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What to wear to an interview you attend is more about feeling and being comfortable yourself, than impressing an employer.
By Ritika Dhawan
While many of us consider a good wardrobe for work important, the need to be well-dressed (and suitably dressed) seems to be particularly strong when it comes to appearing for an interview.
First, does it really matter what you wear to an interview? The answer is Yes, and No.
Yes, to the extent that clothes do send out signals about who we are, and whether we will fit into the culture of the company. More importantly, comfortable clothes in which we know that we look good make us feel more confident.
No, because clothes while important, are only one signal among many, and certainly not as important as your aptitude for and attitude towards the role – which is what interviewers seek to understand.
This article includes a few tips that may help you better decide what to wear to an interview you attend.
‘Well-dressed’ can mean a range of clothes, but ‘suitably dressed’ in an interview situation really refers to understanding your prospective employer. Comb through your network to find a current or former employee you can ask, look up the company’s Facebook page to see if they have posted pictures of employees – that will be your first clue as to how you should dress for the interview.
In a desire to impress, many of us tend to wear something new, especially if the job is a coveted one. Don’t! You don’t want to head out for an interview and find that the tag at the collar scratches your neck uncomfortably, or that the new sari wrinkles after half an hour of waiting in the lobby. If you must have new attire, the large number of sites available for clothes and lingerie online shopping have made it easy enough to order in advance and wear them in. (And yes, this advice applies to lingerie as well – an uncomfortable bra that keeps riding up your back can be distracting at an interview).
We often hear the ‘be yourself’ mantra, but what if you are most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt? That may not work for interviews at companies where formal dressing is the norm. Consider ways in which you can stay yourself, and still be closer to what the situation demands. For instance, you could team a black/dark coloured pair of jeans with a full-sleeved shirt, or wear it with a solid t-shirt and add on a semi-formal blazer. Voila!
Men don’t face this dilemma because work wear for men is by default, Western, but for women in India, this is an additional question to consider. While your potential employer’s dress code matters, ultimately, you need to be comfortable as well.
Most employers today, at least in metros, accept women wearing either Indian or Western clothes to work. Some employers such as the Government, public sector, educational and even a few in the manufacturing sector have outdated policies that restrict women from wearing Western wear. If you are interviewing with one such employer, the safest option would be to stick to Indian wear. However, if you only wear Western clothes to work (as increasingly, many Indian women do), stick to what you find comfortable – perhaps try to find a midway solution such as teaming a slim silhouette kurti with trousers.
On the other hand, if you are most comfortable with Indian clothes, stick to salwar kameez, kurtis or sarees that are not blingy or have too much embroidery or other work done on them.
Putting your best foot forward is easier if it’s a comfortable pair of shoes or sandals! Apart from basics like well-polished shoes and clean sandals, make sure you don’t wear heels that make you totter or a new style that bites into the back of your foot. It doesn’t matter how trendy it is if you can’t walk across the room comfortably to meet your interviewer.
Dressing up for an interview is really not about looking good as much as it is about ‘feeling good about your looks.’ A big part of that is finding a comfortable look that works for you – find out what that is, and stick to it!
Pic credit: Steve (Used under a Creative Commons license)
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