Putting together a great resume and strong cover letter is only half of the battle when it comes to acquiring a new job. Those two pieces of paper will get you in the door, but the rest is up to you. If you don't look the part and can't present yourself in a professional fashion than even the best resume in the world can't help you. Remember, perception is reality and if you want your new job to become a reality you need to give off the right impression during your interview.
Every outfit has to start with a strong foundation; and for your job interview you're going to want to wear a suit. It doesn't matter what position you're applying for, or even if the suit is going to be a regular item in your day-to-day work wardrobe; you must present a professional face for your interview and the best way to do this is by wearing a nice suit.
Keep it simple and elegant with your choice in suits. Choose a dark color like navy blue or charcoal and avoid anything too flashy or garish. In a bind a black suit is fine, though this can be too reminiscent of suits worn at funerals so it is not as ideal of a choice as a dark charcoal or navy blue.
Single breasted suits are the most common type of suits worn for a job interview; and with good reason. A double breasted suit can be seen as too formal and not appropriate for most jobs. While you do want to respect the air of formality that is inherent to an interview, you don't want to exude a tone of over formality that may be off-putting to many potential employers. In addition, double-breasted suit jackets have gone out of style and unless you want to dress like the 1980s Wall Street tycoon Gordon Gecko, stick to a single-breasted jacket.
Making sure that your suit is not overly worn, is wrinkle-free, and well tailored is another important step in choosing the right suit. If you have been wearing the same suits for a while you should give them a visual inspection to make sure that they still appear to be in good condition.
This includes checking the trousers for any signs of wear particularly around the inseam and lower hem, as well as checking the jacket for signs of fraying cuffs. Additionally, suits that have been laundered improperly or have been worn for a number of years tend to develop a noticeable shine that is not desirable.
Ensuring a proper fit is just as important as ensuring the good condition of your suit. Pay particular attention to the shoulder area as this helps define the entire fit of the jacket and an ill fitting shoulder sends all measurements off balance. Next, look at the sleeves. About ½ of an inch of dress shirt collar should be showing. Most importantly remember this; when your suit fits well you will feel more comfortable, and the more comfortable you feel in your interview the better you will perform.
Picking the right tie to compliment your suit is essential for creating the right first impression. You do not want to choose a tie that is bold, clashes with your suit color or could be considered cliché and cheesy. For instance; if you are applying for the position of laboratory technician you do not want to wear a tie that is covered in beakers and flasks. You may think it's cute, but your interviewer will not. They are looking to hire a grown-up and showing your individuality during an interview via novelty ties will not land you the position.
Some people say that you do not want to wear a patterned tie during an interview in order to keep things as simple as possible. This is not necessarily the case, and it really all depends on the pattern to be worn. Generally a small pattern is preferable to a larger pattern as a small pattern will blend more evenly into a continuous color tone. Just remember, keep it tasteful and you'll be fine.
In terms of color choice stick to safe colors and keep the bold colors in your closet for after you get the job. Stick to muted complementary colors that match your dark suit or dark jewel tones if you are younger and feel that you can pull off the look. Burgundy Ties and Dark Blue Ties are best.
Choose your accessories wisely. This is not the time or place to go overboard with the accessorizing. Keep it simple with a nice watch and perhaps a nice tie clip and/or set of cuff links - if you're feeling particularly fancy. Do not, however, go overboard such as wearing a silk handkerchief in your pocket. Leave this look until you are the boss. Finally make sure to bring a nice leather note-pad, filled with some clean paper, and a working pen. Choose a simple and elegant pen and stay away from pens covered in advertising. Bringing the famous 4 inch IKEA pencil is out of place.
There is very little to say about what type of shoes to wear; just that they should be dressy and clean. If you've never had your shoes polished there is always a first time for everything, and now is that time. A common mistake is believing that a loafer is appropriate for an interview simply because it resembles a dress shoe. This is not the case, and a loafer is far too casual to be worn to interview. As with the rest of your outfit keep it simple with a pair of black, lace up, ankle high oxfords. If you wear a dark navy suit, then wear dark blue socks, and should you choose to wear a dark gray suit pick either gray or black socks.