Look Your Best to Impress

Leave a positive first impression with a professional attire and proper grooming.
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore
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Did you know it takes only seven seconds to form an opinion about someone you’ve just met? While it is true that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the truth is that how you present yourself and how you look, especially at the first instance of meeting someone, does matter.

This is especially the case during your job-hunting process. Recruiters will scrutinise you to assess your fit for the job from the get-go, and first impressions count for a lot. Showing up to a job interview dressed in sloppy attire may give recruiters the idea that you are uninterested in the job on offer – some may even think that it’s disrespectful.

A professional and tidy getup, on the other hand, will suggest enthusiasm and show that you've put some thought into presenting yourself appropriately to meet your prospective employers. Not only that, knowing that you look good will give your confidence a boost as you walk into the interview room.

For these reasons, it is important to dress and look your best to create a good first impression. Here are some quick tips to help you achieve that.

Hair

Ladies

If you have a fringe, make sure to style it or pin it up so that your hair does not fall over your face. Having to push your fringe to the back every few seconds during the interview can be distracting for both you and your interviewer.

Girls with frizzy, long hair should keep it tied to maintain a neat image. It is advisable to condition and brush your hair before your interview too.

Gentlemen

Similar to the ladies, if you have a fringe, make sure it does not get in the way of your face and eyes. You should also avoid outrageous hairstyles (e.g. spiking your hair too high up) and dyeing your hair with unconventional colours (e.g. electric pink and pastel green).

Face

Ladies

It’s great to put on some make-up to enhance your looks and confidence, but avoid going overboard. Opt for neutral colours and a natural look. Smokey eyes and bright lips are great for a night out, but for a job interview, it’s best to keep things simple!

Gentlemen

If you’re naturally endowed with generous facial hair, you should make an effort to keep it neat and tidy. A clean-shaven look is often preferred, but if you choose to keep your facial care, make sure that it doesn’t make you look shabby.

For both

Dental hygiene is more important than most people think. You will be speaking for quite a bit with your interviewer so make sure to check your breath.

A confident smile will send positive vibes to everyone in the interview room, and it will help you shake off your nerves as well. Having something stuck in your teeth, on the other hand, can make things awkward and will definitely distract your interviewers – so, don’t forget to check your teeth too.

Top

Ladies

Whether you’re a lady or gentleman, a blazer is always a safe bet when dressing up for a professional occasion. However, do make sure to keep to black, grey or navy-coloured blazers.

What you wear underneath your blazer is important as well. A light-coloured blouse or cotton shirt would be a good pick to complement your dark-coloured blazer. Avoid strapless tops, spaghetti straps and T-shirts as these are inappropriate and too casual for a job interview.

If you are wearing a dress, choose one that looks professional and pair it with a blazer for a classy look. Avoid dresses that reveal too much skin or are too sheer. It’s fine to give your look a splash of colour but try to keep it mild so that your attire doesn’t end up looking gaudy.

Gentlemen

It’s a good idea to invest in a quality two-piece suit that you can wear not just to job interviews but other formal events (e.g. networking events) as well.

To achieve a confident and professional look, your jacket should be form fitting. It should fit you snugly around your shoulder and waist without it being too tight and uncomfortable, or too loose and sloppy. The sleeves of the jacket should be at a comfortable length, extending to just around the wrist or before the knuckles when your arms are relaxed to your sides.

It is also advisable to get a suit in a dark colour, such as charcoal, dark grey or navy. Navy is a top pick among fashion experts, as it is versatile and can be worn for different occasions.

Select a light-coloured dress shirt to wear to complement your suit. Dress shirts made of cotton that are breathable will be a comfortable choice to accommodate Singapore’s climate.

Bottom

Ladies

If you are wearing pants, make sure to choose slacks that match your blazer. Alternatively, you could just get yourself a pantsuit that is pre-designed to be an ideal combination. However, do take note that your slacks should allow you to sit comfortably instead of stretching over your thighs when seated.

If you prefer wearing a skirt, you could either purchase a skirt suit or choose a skirt to match the blazer you’ve picked out. A pencil skirt will give you a classy look, but make sure that it’s not too tight to avoid discomfort. Be sure to also check the hemline of your skirt so that it doesn’t ride up too much when you sit.

Tip: When picking out a skirt to wear for your interview, do a skirt test both sitting down and standing up to make sure that the hem ends comfortably around the knee area and doesn’t go higher than your lower-mid thigh area.

Gentlemen

Your pants should be long enough to cover your ankles when you sit. Make sure to also do a sitting test to check that. They should also complement what you wear on top.

If you opted for a two-piece suit, your dress pants should already be designed to match your suit. However, if you are putting together a blazer and pants combination yourself, make sure that the colours are uniform and the fabric is similar as well.

Others

  • Accessories
    Ladies: Jewelry can accentuate the classy look that you are going for, but putting on too much can have the opposite effect. Keep the accessories simple – don’t wear more than one pair of earrings (dangling and big hooped ones can be distracting) and go for necklaces or bracelets that have minimalist designs instead of statement, chunky ones.

    Gentlemen: If you choose to wear a tie, choose one with a simple design and stick to conventional colours, such as blue, dark green or dark red. Also, the length of your tie should fall right at your belt after tying it on. As for belts, opt for leather ones with simple buckles and to go the extra mile, you can match the colour of the belt to your shoes.
     
  • Shoes and socks
    Ladies
    : Heels will give you that extra height that may give you that additional boost in confidence. However, do make sure it’s a comfortable height for you. Two to three inches of extra height should do the trick. If you prefer wearing flats, select closed toe ones for a more professional look. Regardless of which you choose to wear, make sure to stick to simple designs and colours (e.g. black, blue, nude).

    Gentlemen:  As a rule of thumb, you should always wear dress shoes and dark socks to formal or professional events. A pair of Oxfords (black round-toed dress shoes) is the classic choice for a job interview. Also, don’t forget to polish them before prior to wearing them.