If you work or want to work in a creative field, dressing for an interview can be a bit of a challenge. On one hand, you want to show off your style and creativity. However, you don’t want to look inappropriate or out of place. So, how do you strike this balance?
“It’s important to remember that your outfit is often the first impression an employer will have of you,” says Rif Saleh, a Staffing Manager within The Execu|Search Group’s Fashion & Retail division. “While it should reflect your personal style, you still need to look polished and professional in order to be taken seriously. Rather than it being the focus of the interview, your outfit should complement the reasons why your personality, experience, and technical skills make you a fit for the job.”
To help you put together a professional yet stylish outfit, here are Rif’s rules for success:
- Know your audience: Dress codes vary by company, so do your homework! For example, a start-up might be more laid back, while an established, international brand could be more formal. To learn more about the company culture, check out the organization’s website and social media profiles. While you’re at it, don’t forget to dress for the role! If you can expect to have a lot of interface with executives, for instance, you might want to have a blazer on hand. Alternatively, you might want to opt for a less structured silhouette if you will often be at shoots.
- Keep it simple: At the end of the day, an interview should be about the value you can bring to the organization. As a result, it’s best to avoid any flashy accessories or dizzying patterns that could distract the interviewer from the conversation at hand. “I always advise my candidates to let their personality speak for itself,” says Rif. “You don’t have to hide behind brand names or ostentatious pieces as a means of impressing an employer. Your skills and unique attributes should be enough!”
- Use color strategically: Incorporating a pop of color into your ensemble is a great way to show a bit of creativity. To successfully pull this off without being distracting or unprofessional, stick to polished silhouettes and ensure the color complements the rest of your outfit. If you’d prefer to keep your color scheme more neutral, a tasteful statement piece such as necklace or belt can have a similar effect.
- Be stylish, yet comfortable: When interviewing, one of the most important things you can do is be yourself! “Job seekers sometimes get so caught up in the interview process that they forget to evaluate whether the company culture is the right fit for them,” says Rif. “This is something that is almost impossible to do if you feel like you have to portray yourself as someone else. In some cases, doing so can even hinder your interview performance since you could appear less confident.” As a result, Rif advises her candidates to always choose an outfit they feel comfortable, professional, and stylish in. In the end, this will only bolster your confidence—allowing your personality and skills to shine through!