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Golden Guide Career Advice: ‘Dress for Success,’ and Other Interview Prep Tips

Lydia Lazar

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Golden Tip No. 17: Never Wear New Clothes to an Interview

Golden Guide Career Advice is a series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

To project an authentic and natural attitude in an interview setting, you need to relax. Wearing brand-new clothes may be too much of a distraction. You certainly don’t want to look scruffy or unkempt, but wearing some lived-in clothing can help bring out your true personality. Every season, region and workplace has a dress code—make sure that you only deviate from it in tasteful ways that don’t inadvertently cause you to lose status.

The internet is filled with perfectly reasonable advice on interviewing, but remember: Don’t go into an interview feeling unprepared.

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Interview preparation includes:

  • Practice your interview and public-speaking skills. Don’t memorize anything, but practice speaking fluently on the subject of you.
  • Plan your answers to likely questions. Be ready to explain your academic studies, recent work history and your interest in the position.
  • Be your own audience, whether in front of a mirror, with a friend or on your phone’s video playback.
  • Plan your exact outfit and travel route to avoid being late.
  • Read up on the company and its latest initiatives, on the people you will meet and on the general industry trends. Prepare some good questions ahead of time as this can help you project confidence.

Most people aren’t making mistakes about their hair or clothes. Instead, they’re missing opportunities to showcase why they’re the right person for the job.

Why? Because interviews are stressful and we are intimidated into passivity by the combination of simultaneously wanting to impress the interviewer and feeling out of control of the situation.

Intentionally develop a personal approach that will increase your chances of being selected for any job you seek.

Image courtesy of Pexels.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.