Job Interviews For Dummies
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The interpretation of business casual for job interviews varies too widely for universally accepted conventions. How should you dress when business casual is the rule? Mainstream opinion nixes casual clothing you might wear to a picnic or ball game, such as sweatsuits, spandex, shorts, T-shirts with slogans or commercial logos, bared midriffs, halter tops, and tank tops.

For women, the following business casual checklist applies:

  • Clothing: Guidelines here are looser than for conservative dress.

    Sticking with the following points is a safe bet:

    • A casual jacket or blazer with well-pressed trousers or a skirt is a top option.

    • A jacketed tailored dress is a fine choice.

    • Tailored knit sweaters and sweater sets are appropriate.

    • A knee-length, or longer, skirt with a blouse works well for support jobs.

    • Pastel overload (pink, baby blue) is fine in a nursery but not in your outfit.

    • Provocative clothing (see-through tops, uncovered cleavage, second-skin pants, festive shimmering-fabric, super-short skirts) isn’t your best option.

  • Shoes: Shoes should look business-like and be dark colored — no strappy shoes, sandals, or mile-high stilettos.

  • Stockings: You can skip them for a business casual look.

  • Make-up: Avoid wearing heavy makeup — on you or your collar line.

  • Accessories: Leave flashy or distracting jewelry — dangly earnings, clunky bracelets, giant, spiky rings that bruise fingers when shaking hands — at home in your jewelry box. If you wear it, make sure your nail polish is fresh, unchipped, and in a classic color.

For men, a business casual checklist includes the following:

  • Clothing: Don a sport jacket or blazer, especially navy blue, black or gray, with color-coordinated long trousers or pressed khakis. Shirts must have collars, be long-sleeved and tucked into pants; button-down shirts are good but not mandatory.

  • Shoes: Choose dress shoes and matching belt; loafers are acceptable.

  • Socks: Wear dark socks that are mid-calf length.

  • Ties: Choose simple (not too busy) ties for job interviews unless you know from your research that a tie isn’t part of the uniform where you’re interviewing.

  • Accessories: Limit jewelry to a conservative wristwatch. Removing earrings is safest but check for the company culture.

Any interviewee, male or female, is better off steering clear of the following:

  • Dark tinted glasses; sunglasses atop your head or front of collar

  • Electronic devices (even on vibrate mode — the buzzing sound is annoying)

  • Joke or fad watches

Advance research is the only way to be on sure footing. You’re gambling if you assume that you know what business casual means in your interview setting — or even whether you should dress in business casual. When in doubt, scout it out.

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