If you’re preparing for an in-person interview, some strategies can help you put your best foot forward. We’ve compiled our top five tips for making a positive impression during your next job interview, along with some business-casual outfit ideas.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a job interview is to research the company. Go online and search for reviews from current and previous employees and customers or clients. Reading information from people who’ve had direct experience with the company can let you in on some valuable details. You may discover the overall “vibe” of the business—whether it’s a relaxed environment or formal office atmosphere. Reading reviews also helps you discover what people like best and least about the company.
You might also want to visit the company in person to see how things look. Note how the employees are dressed—are they wearing casual business apparel like women’s polo shirts and khakis, or are they dressed in traditional three-piece suits? Finally, take a few minutes to learn the company’s history or a few notable facts about the brand. If there’s an opening during the interview, mention these things to demonstrate enthusiasm and initiative to your interviewer.
Another way to make sure you’re prepared is to practice answering questions. Recruit a friend or family member to be the interviewer to ask you an array of interview questions. You can find many interview practice questions online. “Why do you want to work here?” and “What’s your biggest strength and weakness?” are two of the most common questions you may encounter when interviewing for jobs.
There’s no way to predict the questions you’ll be asked, so go through a variety of scenarios. Don’t memorize your responses, but have them in mind. You don’t want to sound robotic, or like you’re reciting from memory. Interviewers may look for candidates who can quickly improvise an intelligent response to an unexpected question, which shows critical thinking skills.
It’s important to dress appropriately for a job interview. Before choosing your interview outfit, it’s a good idea to get an idea of the company's dress code. You don’t want to look too casual for a formal office, but you also don’t want to overdress.
There are some outfits that work for almost every office. A women’s white blouse with a navy pencil skirt or slacks can be dressed up or down, and it’s modest yet stylish. Black dress pants or a skirt will also work with almost any women’s blouses, whether you go for a neutral hue or something colorful. Speaking of color, keep vibrant hues limited to one piece. For example, you could wear a neutral outfit and carry a bright handbag or wear brightly colored dress shoes.
If you want to wear a colorful top, choose a classic style such as a cashmere cardigan. Almost any color of cashmere women’s sweater looks elegant with neutral bottoms, whether you prefer charcoal slacks or a camel-hued skirt. Cashmere is super-soft and durable, and it layers well over everything from Supima cotton tees to cotton turtlenecks.
Women’s dresses are also suitable for job interviews. Pair a short-sleeve dress with a blazer or cardigan, then add dress shoes for an interview-ready outfit that’s simple and stylish. Sheath dresses in any style are also a good choice for interviews. You can wear them with tights and heels for a formal look, and they’re easy to accessorize with a strand of pearls or statement brooch.
Once you’ve done your research, practiced your interview questions, and chosen your outfit, it’s time to visualize your success. It’s possible you can raise your confidence level simply by picturing yourself as confident, which can make a good impression on your interviewer. Imagine yourself making eye contact, smiling, and shaking hands with your interviewer. You can even go further and imagine being awarded the job and moving into your new office. There’s no magic involved—just the idea that positive thinking can help you feel more positive and help you present yourself in a confident manner. An optimistic attitude is something many employers value, and it certainly can’t hurt your chances of getting hired.
After your interview, send a thank-you card to your interviewer. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy—a simple white card with handwritten text will suffice. In the card, express your gratitude for the opportunity to interview and reiterate your interest in the position. End with a confident closing, such as “I look forward to speaking with you again soon.”
There’s no formula for a perfect job interview, but preparation can be helpful. Now that you know how to make a positive impact at your next interview, it’s time to put yourself out there and reach for your dreams.