These Job-Interview Essentials Will Give You The Confidence To Land The Gig

Going to that first job interview can be a rollercoaster of emotions — excitement, insecurity, pride, anticipation — and outfitting yourself to meet with a potential employer is a task that will add to this pileup of feels. Obviously, your stellar resume, on-point qualifications, and sparkling wit will win over your prospective new boss, but so much happens in those first few seconds when you and the interviewer lay eyes on each other, so it’s crucial to pay attention to your 'fit, in addition how you might fit at the company. “It’s your first impression,” says Jessica Peters of The Muse, an online destination for job seekers, “so you can never overdress.” Solid advice — but how to apply it?

If there’s a shopping conundrum, we’re here to help you solve it. Luckily we have many resources right here on our website, plus an exhaustive guide to the myriad office dress codes that you may encounter in 2019. But the job-interview shopping list is an especially tricky one — what you wear on day -1 of work is different from what you’ll wear on day 365. With the help of our recent research and insight from career platforms like The Muse and Fairygodboss, we put together a no-fail shopping list that will give you the peace of mind, so that you can focus on proving yourself to the person sitting on the other side of the desk, and not nervously tugging on your button-down.

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A Professional Layering Piece

“A good fall back is layers,” says The Muse’s Peters. “There’s a three-piece rule I learned — you should always bring, or have available, a third piece in which you can dress up your outfit, or scale back to be more casual based on the interview environment you're entering. Think about a blazer, a dressy coat, or a statement necklace.”

& Other Stories Belted Trench Coat, $149, available at & Other Stories


Good, Solid Shoes

“A person's shoes can say a lot,” says Peters. “Make sure to be wearing a pair that are clean, comfortable, relatively nice, and appropriate for your outfit.”

Sole Society Mavis Loafer Pump with Padded Footbed, $67.99, available at Zappos


Unassuming Classics = White Shirt + Tailored Jacket

“What you say will matter far more than what you wear, so the most important thing is to wear something that won’t distract the interviewer from focusing on you. You should be more memorable than the clothes you wear,” says Georgene Huang, CEO and Co-founder of women’s career hub Fairygodboss.

H&M Double-Breasted Jacket, $49.99, available at H&M

H&M Linen Shirt, $24.99, available at H&M


A Polished Carryall

Almost every interview is punctuated by the “I brought a copy of resume!” moment, and you don’t want to ruin your carefully-composed look by pulling your CV out of a dingy free-with-subscription New Yorker tote bag. You don’t have to break the bank on a tote that looks streamlined and professional, and with a cute one like this mustard bucket bag, you may find yourself carrying it on the weekends, too.

Charles & Keith Asymmetrical Bucket Bag, $69, available at Charles & Keith


An Elevated Version Of The Office Dress Code

“Before an interview, I either will ask my recruiter directly or find office pictures to get a sense of what the day-to-day wear looks like,” says Peters. “If it’s a casual work environment, I'll step up my interview outfit by wearing black pants and a blazer, and will dress the outfit up with either a lipstick or some jewelry.”

M.M.LaFleur The Tinsley Trouser, $225, available at MM.LaFleur

M.M.LaFleur The Roxane Blazer, $295, available at MM.LaFleur


Jewelry That Shows A Touch Of Personality — When It’s Appropriate

“If you’re interviewing with a more creative company, a colorful, statement piece may be acceptable,” says Huang, “but do some research before you walk into the interview wearing a rhinestone peacock necklace.”

Leigh Miller Gold Double Drop Earrings, $112, available at SSENSE


The Little Black Dress — Again

“When in doubt, wear black,” says Huang. “Research has shown that 70% of hired candidates wore black to their interviews. It’s a safe, professional color that looks flattering on every body type and keeps the recruiter focused on what you’re saying rather than what you’re wearing.”

A New Day 3/4 Sleeve Crewneck Knit Dress, $24.98, available at Target


A Manicure

This might seem extraneous — especially if you’re the low-maintenance type — but we fully believe in the put-together power of uniformly colored nails. You don’t even have to have them painted — just performing a small act of self care and maintenance will do a lot to calm your nerves before the big meeting.

J. Hannah Nectar Nail Polish, $19, available at J. Hannah


A Simple Palette

“To play it safe, avoid bright colors on your first meeting,” says Huang. “Studies show that bright colors like orange are more likely to be associated with someone who is unprofessional, so stick to neutrals when it comes to your clothing, accessories, and nail color.”

Mango Structured Cotton Blazer, $69.99, available at Mango

Mango Straight Suit Trousers, $49.99, available at Mango


Under-the-Rader Accessories

We’ve already read that a statement piece can fly for a creative-office interview, but if you’d rather not take any risks, opt for minimal jewelry. We endorse wear something that feels — or is — sentimental, to give you that extra bit of confidence.

Catbird Baby Cygnet Ring, Yellow Gold, $128, available at Catbird


The Sideye-Free Blouse

“An appropriate blouse should not show cleavage or shoulders,” says Peters. We love the luxe simplicity of Everlane’s silk version, which comes in a plethora of colors.

Everlane The Clean Silk Relaxed Shirt, $98, available at Everlane


Commuting Shoes

Maybe you’re walking into a meeting with a finance or consulting recruiter, and you’re dressed to the nines in a three-piece suit wearing professionally streamlined high heels. If you’re smart, you’ve stashed those pumps in your polished carryall (see slide no. 4) and hoofed it to the gleaming office building in easy to slide in and out of flats. You don’t want to show up to the interview having hobbled seven blocks from the subway, nor do you want to ruin your fancy shoes with any kind of unknown urban detritus.

Coconuts by Matisse Xander Mule, $44.96, available at Nordstrom


Say Yes To Being Overdressed

“Overdress,” says Huang. “Although many offices have embraced a business casual dress code, you don’t have the job yet, so you should dress a bit more professional than the average employee. You don’t have to wear a full suit or blazer, but a t-shirt and jeans aren’t acceptable just yet.”

Lark & Ro Stretch Long Sleeve Dress with Fit and Flare Skirt, $41.65, available at Amazon


Matching Underwear

OK, hear us out — we’ve heard many women say that they feel more confident when they’re wearing bra and undies that match, even when there’s zero chance they’ll be seen. We’re down with any kind of confidence-booster, visible or not.

Wacoal Convertible Bra: Sizes 32B – 40G, $52, available at Bare Necessities

Wacoal Halo Lace Brief, $15, available at Bare Necessities

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