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Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Get Dressed for a Job Interview

By Dawn Rosenberg McKay, Guide

A big job interview is coming up and you are feeling very confident. You have anticipated the questions they might ask and have prepared some great answers. Fresh copies of your resume are sitting in your backpack. Wait a minute. Did you say backpack? Are you really going to walk into a job interview carrying a backpack? Next thing you'll say is that you're planning to wear jeans and a t-shirt. Uh-oh. You better ask yourself these questions before you get dressed.

What should I wear?
Generally, it's a good idea to wear a suit for a job interview. Go with something simple, in a neutral tone. The more conservative your field is, the more conservative your suit should be. For example, if you're applying for a job in an investment firm, go with a navy blue or dark gray suit.

What if my interview is for a job in a more casual setting?

It's a good idea to match your interview attire to the prospective job. If you are applying for a job working on a warehouse floor, you will look out of place wearing a formal suit. Keeping that in mind, dress a little better than you would for a day at work and make sure your clothes are neat and clean.

My interview is for a job in an accounting firm. Traditionally this field is conservative, but this particular firm may be a little more casual. How should I dress?
You can't go wrong in a suit, but if you want to give more of an impression of "fitting in" then you need to find out how people actually dress for work at that firm. One way to do this is to observe people arriving for work. Choose any day other than a Friday, which is when some companies allow more casual dress. Again, follow the rule of dressing better for the interview than you would for a typical day at the office.

Do I have to buy a new suit?
As long as your suit is in good condition and not outdated, you don't have to buy a new one. If you do decide to purchase a new suit, buy the best one you can afford and make sure you don't get anything too trendy. You want your investment to last.

What shoes should I wear?
In all instances, wear closed-toe shoes. Sandals are never appropriate for a job interview, unless you are applying for a job as a lifeguard. Black shoes match everything (yes, even your navy blue suit). Stick with a conservative style. Women should not wear very high heels.

Must I buy new shoes?
No. Shoes you've already worn are fine, unless they are in bad condition or out of style. A little shoe polish may be in order here.

What about my nails?
Your nails should be clean. A man's nails should be kept short and a woman's nails shouldn't be excessively long and should be bare or polished in a neutral color.

I love wearing jewelry. Can I wear it for the interview?
Modest jewelry is fine, but don't wear large earrings or a thick chain.

What about makeup? How much is okay?

Don't paint on the makeup. Keep it simple and use neutral colors.

What should I carry with me -- a purse, a briefcase, a backpack?
By all means, leave the backpack at home. You want to look professional, not like you're taking a stroll across campus. A woman can carry a small to medium sized handbag. A man or woman can carry a briefcase if he or she wishes, or a folder or portfolio.
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