The right clothes to wear on job interviews for men and women

Tailored business options for women.

The right interview outfit can pay dividends well beyond its price. Although no company is likely to base a hiring decision directly on your outfit, decisions are made every day based on the beliefs your appearance causes an interviewer to form about you. Newest research reveals it takes as little as 7 seconds for someone to form a whole laundry list of impressions of you, and you want to be sure they are all positive ones.

Traditional businesswear for men.

Despite what many so-called experts promote, a navy blue suit is not the Magic Bullet. The right wardrobe choices for interviewing are far more nuanced. Here is the real info you need to know to create a winning first impression:

  • DO your homework to understand how the people in this organization dress for work. Is it a traditional suited environment, a free-wheeling casual/creative place or something in between. Ask a friend on the inside, check out the photos on the company web site or in the annual report, or drive to the parking lot at closing time and watch the people coming and going. Be aware that appearance styles within a large organization can vary widely from department to department, and adjust your intelligence gathering accordingly.
  • DRESS toward the top end of the looks your research reveals are appropriate. Dressing too casually can make you appear less serious about your candidacy for the position.
  • DON’T over-dress, though. A formal business suit in a more relaxed company can make you appear desperate and trying too hard, or position you in the dreaded “over-qualified” category.
  • DEFINE Business Casual with an emphasis on business and avoid social-casual attire. Choose instead:
  • Men (Business Casual): Nicer khaki trousers, not top-stitched cotton styles, with a small-patterned long-sleeved shirt or a like-new, traditional color polo shirt and leather loafers.
  • Women (Business Casual): Neutral-colored slim skirt or trousers with a shell and blazer or a twin sweater set, leather flats or low-heel pumps.
  • Distinctive touches can help you be more memorable to an interviewer who has talked to multiple candidates.  LinkedIn Influencer Jeff Haden – in an article about what interviewers want to see from candidates – shares that “the more people we interview for a job, and the more spread out those interviews, the more likely we are to remember certain candidates by impressions rather than by a long list of facts.” A scarf or interesting necklace can do the trick for a woman.  A distinctive fountain pen could be a good choice for a man.  An interesting necktie can also make you stand out from the crowd, but avoid the mistake one client made when he interviewed for an internal promotion wearing a Mickey Mouse tie.
  • DOUBLE-check the details:
  1. Shoes polished, appropriate hosiery or dark socks
  2. Garments clean, crisply pressed, well fitted.
  3. Fingernails groomed
  4. Facial hair – if any – neat and conservatively trimmed.
  5. Necktie ending in line with the belt buckle; no tie clip or tie tack
  6. No visible wear on belt or handbag
  7. Subtle but polished makeup
  8. Neatly trimmed and styled hair; natural-looking color with no visible roots; no hair ornaments
  9. Jewelry limited to watch and wedding ring and/or college ring; tailored earrings for women, nothing glitzy, noisy or dangling.
  10. No cologne or other fragrances
  • DEMONSTRATE your preparation; carry a nice portfolio with personal business cards, resume or other materials and a quality pen for taking notes or completing required paperwork.

Business casual styles for women.
Business casual styles for men.

Go beyond the basics and select wardrobe colors that enhance your message. With a man’s dark suit, an ivory or white shirt connotes authority while a pale blue one sends a more friendly, collaborative message. A small contrasting stripe or tiny plaid shirt gives a slightly more creative impression.

For women, the high-contrast symbolism still applies, but you can have more flexibility in you color combinations. With a navy pantsuit, try a sage green shell. Pair charcoal gray with blush, or dark brown with dusty aqua blue. A knit shell or fine-gauge sweater will look and feel better under a jacket than a cotton button-up shirt. And if you arrive to find yourself over-dressed, that sleeveless shell will let you easily push up the jacket sleeves to relax the look a notch or two.

For both genders, avoid wearing clothes with extreme light/dark contrast – black and white is the classic example – because the intensity of the combination will overpower the color pattern in your face and pull attention to the garments and away from your communications center.

Select accessories that compliment your hair and eyes.

Look for opportunities to repeat the color of your hair and your eyes in your outfit. A man’s necktie or a woman’s scarf provides one great option to work in those colors. By doing so you subtly encourage the interviewer to make eye contact with you more readily and sustain that eye contact longer, creating a positive, friendly emotional connection.

If your interview outfit is a level or two dressier than your everyday wear, plan for a practice run in advance of the real event. You want to be sure everything feels comfortable and familiar so your positive body language won’t be interrupted by fiddling with your clothes.

Wear the right outfit on your job interviews ... because you never get a second chance to make a positive impression.

Nancy Nix-Rice
Guest blog post by Nancy Nix-Rice 
Image/Wardrobe Consultant | Color Consultant | Personal Shopper | National Speaker | Author of LOOKING GOOD Every Day

Thank you, Nancy! If you are looking for a wardrobe consultant to "up" your game for interviewing, I highly recommend Nancy. Visit her web site to learn more. -- Kathy

Style idea images shown were selected by Nancy from Polyvore


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8 free job search apps that can help you apply NOW

Which job search apps are right for you?
Searching for a job is time consuming, but using job search apps makes it easier to find and apply for positions on the go. 

Further your career from your iPhone or Android mobile device with these apps by applying to jobs the moment they become available. Doing so can keep you ahead of the competition.


If you're looking for an hourly position in your area, Snagajob is for you. This free app lists both full-time and part-time, hourly-based jobs throughout the U.S. With over 490,000 jobs added in the last month according to the Snagajob website, you have a great chance of finding an hourly position that you will love. Snagajob iPhoneSnagajob Android


The popular professional social media site recently created an app for iOS and Android that provides filtering search tools (similar to the main LinkedIn website) and notifications of jobs that fit your search criteria, says PC World. The LinkedIn app alerts you when a job listing is about to expire and when a recruiter has viewed your application. LinkedIn iPhone | LinkedIn Android


This Monster-affiliated app works directly with Facebook. BeKnown lets you create a professional network separate from your Facebook account, and also allows you to find jobs via the social media site. You can view profiles, exchange messages and discover jobs posted by connections. The company's motto, "You never know who can help you find your next job" is the driving force behind many of the app's features. Keep in mind, this isn't a standalone app so you'll have to access it through Facebook mobile.


Is your daily commute a major stressor in your life? If the main reason for your job search lies in the amount of gas money you're spending every week, then JobCompass is your ticket out the door. This app helps you find jobs within a five-mile radius, says Mashable, and with more than 2 million listings, you're bound to find a job close to home. JobCompass iPhone | JobCompass Android


Imagine a world where you can make money by shopping. Although it might sound too good to be true, Gigwalk is a job searching app that specializes in temporary positions that include anything from going to a retail location and taking pictures of a specific product to inspecting displays or event promotions. So how do you start? The process is simple. All you do is sign up, link your PayPal account and apply for gigs in your area. Then, employers will post jobs that vary in compensation for you to pick up. Gigwalk iPhone | Gigwalk Android


Don't waste your time wandering through a thousand different job search sites. Instead, use an app like JobMo, which grants access to listings from popular job search websites all in one place. Features include maps that list jobs in your area, job-search related discussions, information on companies and salary comparisons, says JobMo iPhoneJobMo Android


Experienced job searchers know that not all available positions are listed on online job boards. LinkUp lets you view open positions on company websites with a simple keyword search. You can save searches and apply to jobs directly on your phone. Furthermore, with LinkUp, you can feel confident that you're applying to legit jobs since they have been posted by the company itself. Additionally, you have a higher chance of landing an interview when you go directly to the source. LinkUp iPhone | LinkUp Android


This app is ideal for avid Twitter users. The TweetMyJobs app pushes jobs from more than 10,000 job channels on Twitter. You can receive job matches directly to your email, text and, of course, your Twitter account. Avoid getting flooded by choosing how frequently they're delivered. Plus, TweetMyJobs can notify you if any of your Facebook friends can introduce you to a hiring company that aligns with your job preferences. TweetMyJobs iPhone | TweetMyJob Android

So, if your career search has hit a stall, try these apps and get your job search moving again. They might just help you ... Get a Job! -- Kathy

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Groundbreaking NEW webinar: What's new with LinkedIn

Some of the new and improved features on LinkedIn are making the world's largest business network even more valuable for job seekers. 

Find out what's new on the site and what the recent changes can mean for your job prospects in this valuable new and free webinar!

Make the most of LinkedIn
Topics will include:

  • Why people with a premium job seeker account have an amazingly unfair advantage over free account holders and what you can do to compete even if you have a free account.
  • Learning about an inexpensive alternative to standard premium accounts that LinkedIn keeps totally under wraps.
  • How to reach out to people you don't know on LinkedIn using the Open Profile feature and much, much more.

  • You can make the most of LinkedIn's new tools ... learn how in this new and groundbreaking presentation!

    Wednesday, Sept. 3
    2 pm Central

    Can't attend? Register anyway! We'll send you the slides and recording free of charge.  


    Also register for these upcoming free webinars by Kathy Bernard:

    Learn how to go around the system to reach the hiring manager!

    Salary Negotiating to Land a Job - Wednesday, Sept. 23
    Get the job that you want at the pay that you deserve!

    Exactly what to say and do to get recruiters to help you land a job!

    Use the power of the world's largest network to reach and impress hiring companies!

    Landing a Great Job after 40 - Wednesday, Oct. 22
    You're not finished at 40, 50, 60, or beyond. Learn 40 action steps to dramatically improve your job chances!

    Networking Your Way into a Job - Wednesday, Oct. 29
    Make networking work for you regardless of your fears!

    Can't attend live? No worries! Simply sign up for any or all of the sessions and will send you the recording and slides.


    Learn about services ... LinkedIn profile optimization, resumes, interview preparation, and more!

    How to find a great place to work

    landing a job that you like

    There are 168 hours in a week. If you average 8 hours of sleep a night, that equals 112 hours you are awake. If you work a full 40 hour work week then you are looking at least 35 percent of your week spent at your workplace. With so much time spent on our jobs, carefully consider where you choose to work. 

    Here are characteristics to watch for in a company before you join their team:

    1) Employees stick around

    One of the signs to watch out for is the turnover rate. A high turnover rate signals that people become unhappy and leave or the company hires and fires at will. A company that is constantly changing personnel may signal financial instability or a lack or organization within the structure of the company. Conversely, a company with a low turnover rate shows that management is investing in its employees and is treating them fairly.

    The SAS Institute is a leader in business analytic software and was named the 2nd best place to work for by Fortune Magazine. The company boasts a turnover rate of only 3.6 percent, demonstrating it has a strong, positive culture that helps retain talent. It probably helps that the SAS campus comes with a state-of-the-art recreation facility.

    Take-away Tip: Ask the recruiter about the turnover rate at the hiring company. Also ask why the position that you are interviewing for is open. If you learn that the company has a big turnover problem or that multiple people have tried and failed at the position you're being considered for, run for the hills!  

    2) Working for a purpose

    Another attribute of a solid employer is that employees clearly understand what they are working towards. Ask yourself: "Is the company making the world a better place?" Knowing you are working for a company that is positively impacting the world will motivate you and make the day-to-day grind easier.

    The leader in identity theft protection, Lifelock, makes sure its employees understand that they are coming to work every day to protect customers from identity theft. Not only are employees provided with a clear direction but they are also making the world safer from identity thieves.

    Take-away Tip: Before you accept the job, ask yourself if you respect the company and believe in it's products or services. If you have doubts about the company's ethics or about the quality of what they offer, run!

    3) A Culture of Fun

    Many companies get so caught up in the details of their work they forget about building an employee-friendly culture. A workplace where gossip runs rampant or there is low morale are tell-tale signs of poor company culture. Choose to be in a place where the next day was better than the last and where there is a sense of camaraderie and pride.

    An article by Agency Post has examples of good company culture. Advertising agency Grupo Gallegos in Huntington Beach, California, houses a full-size basketball court and batting cage, as well as a room to store surfboards since the beach is only a few feet away. Saatchi LA, another ad agency in Southern California, offers a $200 credit for a gym membership and $2,000 tuition credit to those who wish to continue their learning.

    Take-away Tip: Consider whether the company culture is a good fit for you and whether the company treats its employees well. If you have a strong suspicion that you will be miserable, don't take the job. Instead, redouble your efforts to find a job where you can thrive.  

    The Bottom Line: When deciding on your next position, pick a place where employees stick around, where you can make a difference and where you can be part of a culture of fun. Doing so will help ensure that you will land a job that you will actually enjoy.  

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