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How to look, dress, and feel your best at an interview: Tips for Teens

Last updated August 23, 2022

First impressions matter! While the most important thing about any job interview is communicating why you would be a great employee at a company or organization, being prepared and appropriately dressed is also important. Professionalism is a key skill to prepare for a job or internship interview and can oftentimes set you apart from other candidates. Before you head out to your next interview, take a couple of minutes to review these simple tips on how to look, dress, and feel your best at your next job interview!

Professionalism Redefined

It’s important to recognize that professionalism and “looking professional” was built on white, male-dominant standards. Research shows that conventional professionalism can lead to Black and Brown employees not feeling like they belong in the workplace - and can lead to real consequences like being passed over for a job offer, promotion, or raise.

While we recognize these standards are detrimental to showing your authentic self in the workplace, we also recognize that we’re unable to shift this common perspective on our own. We want to give you these tips to help you set you up for success in our current world, with the hope that "professionalism" is redefined in the future.

From the neck up

  • Make sure your hair is neatly styled, this includes facial hair.
  • Depending on the job, keep your makeup minimal.

Attire

  • If it’s available, research the company’s dress code. Some companies publish their dress code on their website or have photos of employees that you can pull inspiration from. When in doubt, always play it safe and wear business casual attire.
  • Business casual is typically a clean and simple professional look. Including a combination of these items in your interview look will leave a lasting impression.
    • Button up shirt
    • Blouse
    • Slacks
    • Dress or Skirt, knee length preferably
    • Closed toe shoes/flats
    • Heels, make sure they are comfortable and that you can walk with confidence
    • Things to avoid are jeans, t-shirt, shorts, spaghetti straps, flip flops, or hoodies.
  • Keep it simple, wear two accessories or less (rings, necklaces, watches, earrings, bracelets, etc.) to keep distractions at a minimum. For example, if you tend to talk with your hands, make sure you’re not wearing a bracelet or watch that makes any noise.
  • If you’re having trouble finding business casual clothes on a budget, here are some affordable options below. Remember you don’t have to change your entire wardrobe, as long as you have 1-2 key pieces in rotation:
    • Wal Mart
    • Kohls
    • Forever 21
    • Old Navy
    • Your local thrift or consignment stores (Savers, Goodwill, etc.),
    • Search online for programs local to you that offer professional clothing for free.

Hygiene

  • Make sure you’ve showered and put on deodorant.
  • Brush your teeth, and avoid eating things with strong or lasting odors.
  • Avoid any activities or environments in which strong odors will linger or stick to your clothing.
  • If your interview is after you’ve eaten breakfast or lunch, take a breath mint two minutes before you go in.
  • Don’t overdo the perfumes, scented lotions, or colognes. Many workplaces (hospitals, daycares, etc.) have a no fragrances policy, so if you’re able to avoid using any type of scented items, that is ideal.

If you look good, then you feel good! Text ‘JOBS’ to 33-55-77 for more information on how to put your best professional foot forward.

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