Tagged: Interview attire

Business Casual? What To Wear

Business casual is a puzzle that confronts each of us from time to time.  We worry most when dressing for an interview but the question also arises with regard to restaurants, networking events, parties, business meetings, or sales calls.

Know before you go.  Call and ask.  The reservationist at the hot new restaurant will tell you what most patrons wear and if there are specific requirements like a collared shirt or jacket.   Interview?  Call your contacts  or the secretary of the interviewer and ask.  If there is any doubt, look at the social media of the company, restaurant, your contacts there and any publicity shots.  Here are a few cues….

There is a rule of thumb that states that when making an impression you should be slightly more polished than, say,  an interviewer.  Show respect for the person, her job, the opportunity.  Dress for the position you want, not the one you have.

Is it OK to wear denim?  Yes, if its dark washed and paired with a blouse, shirt, sweater or other nice top and covered with a jacket, nice jewelry, and good shoes for women.  Men also wear denim pants with a button-down shirt, shirt and sweater combo, or perhaps a sport coat; include a nice watch and appropriate shoes.

Khaki and soft cotton are also good fabrics for trousers, dresses or skirts.  Linen is OK, too, although it wrinkles quickly.  Add a blazer and you will be good to go.  Under a jacket or dressy sweater, silk or up-scale T shirts pass muster; a crisp white cotton T from a  designer or JCrew is acceptable unless this is a first impression situation, (please, no Hanes underwear out of the  bag).

Give sneakers a rest and in a business setting leave sandals at home.  I’m not in favor of open toe  (or back) shoes for women unless they’ve had a pedicure the day before.  Its too easy to shove calloused feet with dry skin or chipped polish into sandals or backless shoes, a sight that says you are lazy and unaware.

Shoes should be appropriate for the outfit, clean, polished, and free of mud or street debris.

Update on footwear: an interviewer was asked what makes a LAST impression on interviewers.  The backs of the candidate’s shoes!  Polish out scuffs. Check for worn down soles/heels and sinking sox!

No matter what you wear, it must be clean, ironed, and fit properly.  No loose threads, missing buttons, uneven hems, lining extending out of jacket sleeves.  If you are layering, be certain that the top layer is big enough to cover what’s underneath without turning you into a sausage.

How do you build a wardrobe?  Set a budget and shop sales.  Begin before you are ready to network or job hunt.  Begin with a few pieces that can be worn in different ways with various other pieces.  A blazer, a couple of tops and bottoms that coordinate is a good place to start your casual wardrobe.  You might choose  a color pallet at the beginning and build around that.  Navy is good and coordinates with khaki, red, green, white, cream, yellow and light blue.  Consider pieces that can carry you through 3 seasons: fall, winter spring or spring, summer, fall.  Add one or two pieces each season.  Buy what you can afford; shop sales to stretch your dollars.  Avoid trendy pieces and impulse buying.

Accessories no longer need to match.  A smallish hand bag and a portfolio in which to carry your resume, business cards or other papers is just right.  Add a couple of statement pieces of jewelry, a pocket square, professional looking watch, clean well fitting glasses, to complete your look.

Below are two articles from The Muse on business casual for interviews.  Knowing how to dress before you leave high school will add confidence and polish to your college and internship interviews.

Want to talk about how to carry off the suggestions above?  I have great ideas that will help you pull together you own style.  stephanie@accessguidance.com      610-212-6679.



Ace Your Interview By Being Memorable

If you’re prepping for a college interview, you want to distinguish yourself from the thousand of other applicants.

When the interview is for a job,  you want to show that you are The One they have been waiting for.

Here are a few tips on making yourself memorable.



You don’t have to be the most qualified: Its better to be the most prepared. Research the college, google the admissions rep you’ll be talking to, make a list of a few things about yourself you want to bring up (especially details not on your college application), have questions ready.

Job hunters’ talking points will be different from college applicants, but it is the same procedure.

Make the interview a conversation, not an interrogation.  You’ve created a list of questions, yes?  Insert them into your answer like this.   “Over the last 2 years I’ve lead my team to become the group with the quickest turn around due to good communications and mutual support.   How are teams in this company formed?”   College questions could sound this way: ” I love playing soccer although I’m not the star of the varsity squad. I’d like to learn to play lacrosse; how can I do that at XYZ University?”

Many career coaches recommend finding something to “brand” yourself.  Women, wear a distinctive piece of jewelry; guys, wear a distinctive tie; carry a nice briefcase or portfolio, handbag or other accessory.  Perhaps you have a favorite color, say turquoise.  Choose an understated accessory in that color and wear it proudly. Wear your Mickey Mouse watch or other piece that has a story attached to get the conversation rolling.

All interviewees need to dress appropriately.  No skin tight or very short skirts.  Ladies, please wear 2-3 inch heels, no higher: you won’t make a good impression falling on your face on the uneven floor boards in old buildings.  Guys, wear a sport jacket and collared shirt or shirt and tie.

Put together a statement highlighting the ways you meet or exceed the requirements of the role.  It will be an elevator pitch for this role at this company, not the more generalized one you use when introducing yourself to others.  You can include it in the resume (perhaps revised resume) that you hand carry to the job interview, email it before or during a phone interview, or include it in your thank you note.

College bound students should summarize their connections to this college with the number of times visited, ways in which they “follow” the college or additional connections.  Then include specific examples of what makes the college special to them.  Show your fit with the college through how much you know about it.  Including this statement in your thank you note is a good way to illustrate your commitment.

Last, and perhaps most important, is the hand written thank you note.  Delivery by snail mail, your note will be a reminder a few days after the interview of who you are.  Mentioning your fit with college or company brings to mind your stand out qualities.

Its not too early to practice interview skills when applying to college and its not too late to prepare for your job or internship interviews if you are beyond college applications.  The time is always just right if you’re ready to begin.

I’m happy to help you practice for interviews.  Thorough preparation adds to your confidence and assurance translates into competence.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679