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One thing that I always struggle with the day of an interview is the age-old question: “What am I going to wear?” I’ve walked into rooms where I’ve been the best dressed and the worst dressed, although I prefer the latter.  Attire is a problem that affects every professional, even people who have been in the workforce for years.  Here are some important things to remember when choosing that perfect interview outfit.

Make an impression.  Your attire shapes the first impression you give to potential employers, so it’s extremely important to make the right impression. I always like to make sure that my outfit accurately represents the professional I am. I want my outfit to say “I’m competent, qualified, and can make a great impact on your company.” The way you dress should represent the way that you feel about your abilities as a professional. Showing up in jeans and an old t-shirt gives a much different impression than dressing in dress pants and a blazer.

Business professional is always the best way to go.  When in doubt, dressing up too much is better than not enough. If you get to the interview and find that most of the employees are wearing jeans and sweaters, it’s very easy to turn your three-piece suit into a more business casual look by removing your jacket. This way you will still have a professional look, but be much more comfortable. Also, make sure your clothes are clean and stain free to avoid any kind of distractions.

It’s okay to wear the same outfit to different interviews.  Honestly, I have a go-to outfit that I wear to some of my interviews. This outfit is one that I know is professional enough to make a great impression, but not too gaudy to deter a potential employer. Having an outfit on-deck also saves time when getting ready for your interview.

Represent you. You want to make sure that your possible contributions to the company are the main focus of the interview, but don’t be afraid to let your apparel represent you. If you feel most confident in a shirt that’s hot pink, play it down by pairing it with black pants and a black blazer. This way you still stay true to your style and wardrobe, but aren’t looking distracting.

Leave time for wardrobe malfunctions. We all have those days where the outfit we tried on just last night does not look as good this morning. I’ve found that giving myself a 10-30-minute window for wardrobe malfunctions helps when those days occur.  This extra time can also be used for unexpected outfit emergencies, like your dog throwing up on your blouse (true story). Should you be one of the lucky ones and nothing bad happens, you still get an additional 10-30 minutes to prepare for your interview.

Overall, choosing the right outfit for an interview is super important, but you shouldn’t stress about it too much.  Wear what makes you feel confident and comfortable.  If you are choosing an outfit that is both appropriate and represents you, you should have no problem landing that internship!

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