College to Career: Key Pieces You Need for Your Professional Interview

BY: THOMAS ROJAS & ULYLISA MALDONADO 

Most of us know how to create outfits based on individual versatility from day to night. It is simple to change one or two pieces from what you’re already wearing to fit your next activity. However, can it be just as simple to transition your wardrobe from a starving student to professional employee? It can be with the following tips!

MEN

Hair

When it comes to hairstyles, it is important to consider the shape of your head and look at different hairstyles that go with your appearance. It doesn’t hurt to experiment with different styles -- practice makes perfect. Next are hair products. Yes, many don’t like adding goo in their hair because of possible discomfort, but there is many options! Some are unaware of the different possibilities in hair products, such as hair gel, wax, mousse, spray, pomade, matte products and creams. It is important to find a product that works best with your hair type because each product affects hair differently.

Top

The suit you wear on your interview is going to include an undershirt, dress shirt, tie, suit jacket, pants and shoes. The undershirt is the basic layer when wearing a suit, but it is the most under-thought piece. It is best to go with a white T-shirt as your undershirt and important to note that the undershirt is close to your figure and tucked instead of being loose on your body. 

Shirts

Time for shirts! What I mean by “shirt” is a button-up collared piece. Not your favorite T-shirt with the lame pun that you threw on 10 minutes before class. When wearing a suit to an interview, the ideal colors are white or light blue. These colors are safety colors because they match with almost any professional solid-colored suit.

Tie

The tie is essential to a suit. It is important to know the right pattern for the shirt. We will focus on one type for now since there are endless tie designs. If you are wearing a solid-colored shirt, the safest tie design to go with is a solid-colored tie or a patterned tie. Most importantly get a tie size that fits you. Choose wisely! If your tie is too wide, it may not complement your figure.

Suit jacket

When shopping for a suit, knowing what color to wear for the occasion is definitely important to keep in mind. The best colors for job interviews are navy, dark navy and grey. Black is always a good color to have in your wardrobe, but for an interview, it can make you look overdressed. Let’s save black for the formal dinners and funerals. When you start your suit search, it is important to understand how the suit coat is supposed to fit, especially around the chest and shoulder area. Lastly, let’s talk about your suit length and sleeve. A suit jacket’s length to your arm should have the jacket bottom line up with the thumb and knuckle. Keeping with the topic of arms, the jacket sleeve MUST sit slightly above the sleeve of your shirt. To finish off, if you get a suit that fits right, but the sleeves don’t fit correctly, go to a tailor you trust.  

Pants

Pants are actually quite simple compared to the jacket. Suits come with matching colored pants, so you will only have to worry about getting a size that fits your waist correctly. You will have to take suit pants to be tailored because they are meant to fit just slightly at the dress shoe. The way most suit pants are sold is “extra long” so they can be tailored for your fit correctly. Don’t worry, it won’t break your bank to have these alterations made!

Shoes

When it comes to men’s dress shoes, there are endless options -- Oxfords, derby, loafers, monk straps, cap toes, dress boots, wingtips and formal pumps. First, when searching for a dress shoe, it is important to keep in mind the color of the suit that you are wearing. To be safe, the color that matches with most formal suits is brown. Now, which shoe type? For the sake of keeping it simple, let’s go with trusty Oxfords as an example. When you pick out an Oxford, you can choose to go brogue or non-brogue. The choice is up to your personal preference. Before you put on your new suit with your dress shoes, don’t forget dress socks. Dress socks are a necessity because as you sit, suit pants rise and the ankle is exposed. Many don’t know, but the shoe color must match the colored leather belt that you wear with the suit.  Keep this in mind as you shop.

Accessories

Accessories are not just for girls! Tie clips, pocket squares and watches are just some details to help you stand out in your professional wear. Keep in mind tie clips should fit straight, stretching across three-fourths of your tie. Pocket squares are not always everyone’s preference, but it’s up to you to decide. A little leather on your wrist to match your shoes will go a long way.

 

WOMEN

Hair/Face

It is important not to look like you just rolled out of bed when preparing for any interview. According to Women for Hire, an online-recruiting website, it is best to keep your hair clean, cut and styled. Avoid a hairstyle that is too structured, as “anything that translates into approachable without trying too hard will get your foot in the door,” said Abraham Sprinkle, makeup artist and hair stylist, in an interview with fashion magazine InStyle. Makeup should be in natural hues and nothing over-the-top dramatic.

Top

Remember the group presentation last semester that required you to dress up? You can definitely use that same collared shirt and pair it with a statement necklace that is not overwhelming to give it new life. If you have more tank tops than long sleeves, pair one with a light cardigan or casual blazer. A cover-up is a MUST if you will be wearing a spaghetti-strap tank. But please no crop tops or cleavage-baring blouses!

Bottom

Pencil skirts are safe options that most college women already possess. Tailored dress pants are also a great option and can be purchased at a decent price in many fashion stores. Do you want to use that pretty dress you wore for brunch with the girls? Depending on what job position you are interviewing for, you can get away with putting a simple blazer over it and adding appropriate heels to the ensemble to outfit.

Shoes

Complete your interview look with a clean pair of heels, dressy flats or booties. Avoid shoes that are dirty or scuffed up. Sandals or other open-toed styles are not ideal for professional interviews, even if you are dying to show off your fresh pedicure.


Example of a possible woman's outfit. 

Example of a possible woman's outfit. 

Example of a possible man's outfit. 

Example of a possible man's outfit. 

Overview

Well, ladies and gentlemen, you have the look down. Now, for the last and most important part -- YOU. If you are going into an interview, you are likely nervous, but what is most important is confidence. Take a moment before you go out the door and look at yourself in the mirror in your fresh new outfit. Once you get to this point, you will be confident and ready to take on the road ahead of you. You are no longer dresses as just a college kid; you are now a professional.