What to Wear to an Interview for College Women
When it comes to dressing up, college kids tend to get a bad rap. When most people think of the stereotypical "college student," a particular image comes to mind: coffee in-hand, iPhone earbuds plugged in, and pajamas thrown on to make it to that 8 a.m. class.
While this certainly isn't true of every college student, it is true that a job interview—even if it's a position just steps from the dormitory—requires a certain level of professionalism. Sure, in most cases you don't need to go out and buy a formal suit and briefcase, but, it is important to look nice and make a good impression on your interviewer.
If you aren't sure what to wear, this guide will provide inspiration for college job interview outfits for women. Here's what to wear for a college job interview for women.
Wear a Dressy Blouse
If you need to run to a campus job interview with your backpack, a dressy top balances out your appearance. A blouse or nice sweater is a good choice for most interviews for campus jobs. It's not overly dressy, but not too casual, either. Make sure your top is stain-free and without wrinkles, and pair it with khakis, dark wash jeans, or a skirt. A nice pair of shoes will complete the look.
Top Interview Tip: Research the company, organization, student association, or campus office, so you know what to expect before you go into the interview.
Choose Campus Casual Attire
For an on-campus job, like one in a campus café, you can probably get away with a more casual look, such as an outfit you might wear to class. You can usually get away with what you wear to class as long as you add a tailored touch, like a cardigan over your cotton shirt.
Although a t-shirt on its own is probably too relaxed, you can dress it up with a pair of (unripped) dark wash jeans and a cardigan, or a scarf.
Top Interview Tip: See if you can convince your roommate to help you practice for your interview by going through sample interview questions and answers.
When You Need a Formal Outfit
You made it to college, so obviously, you have a pretty good head on your shoulders. If the position you are interviewing for strikes you as something that would call for a dressier outfit, you're probably right.
What type of position might that be? Perhaps an internship at a finance company or an executive assistantship in the Dean's Office would require a more formal look, like the one shown here.
Top Interview Tip: Still unsure how to dress for success? Check out the differences between business vs. business casual, and if you have to wear a formal outfit, make sure you've taken the time to dry clean or iron your clothes as necessary.
Show Your Personality
Don't be afraid to show your personality to your interviewer. One way to do this is through your dress, but if you're going to choose a "statement" piece, do so with tact. For example, if you're going to wear a bright top, keep your pants or skirt more muted and avoid too many accessories.
Although it's okay to express your style, you want the attention to be on you, not on your fashion sense.
Top Interview Tip: It's not just what you wear or what you say that matters in an interview; you can use nonverbal communication to impress your interviewer, too.
Wear Casual Clothes for a Casual Job
You might be pleased (or maybe, disappointed) to learn that you don't have to go shopping for your interview attire! If you're interviewing for something like a peer tutoring position or library attendant, a relaxed look will likely be fine.
Top Interview Tip: Do your homework before the interview and review the list of most common job interview mistakes to improve your interview technique.
When to Wear Business Casual
Some types of jobs require a business casual look. In this case, think back to your college admissions interview—a similar type of outfit will work for most entry-level jobs you would apply for now that you're in university. Need to add a dressy touch to your outfit? A scarf or a string of pearls always good options.
Top Interview Tip: Review the guide to business casual interview attire for further inspiration.
Off-Campus Job Interview Attire
Certain types of companies require different styles of dress, and if you're interviewing for a job or internship with an organization that's not affiliated with your college, you'll have to do some research to get a sense of the company culture and how you should dress to match it.
For example, an interview at a startup company requires a different type of dress—"startup casual"—than what you'd wear to a job interview at an established corporation. Adjust your look based on the company you're interviewing with. You might have to wear a different outfit for interviews with different organizations or offices on campus.
Top Interview Tips: Unconventional companies sometimes employ unconventional interview techniques, like a group interview, so read up before the big day.
Business Casual and Business Formal Attire
When you're on the fence with what to wear, it's better to look too dressed up than to look sloppy—to an extent. A business casual look is almost always a good choice unless you know for sure the position you're applying for requires a formal business look.
Still unsure? When scheduling your interview, it's acceptable to inquire about the office dress code, which should give you a good sense of what to wear.
Top Interview Tip: At the end of an interview, a majority of interviewers will ask you something along the lines of, "So, do you have any questions for me?" You don't want to appear disinterested or bored by having nothing to say, so make sure you have a few questions on hand to demonstrate your enthusiasm.
Accessories Matter Too
Remember, though, that it's not just your clothes that count. There are some other factors to keep in mind, too. For example, you'll want to keep your perfume to a minimum, wear natural makeup, and tone down your accessories.
Top Interview Tip: Hungry for more interview tips? Check out our readers' input on how they've aced interviews, and how you can too.
Fashion Tips for College Job Interviews
Because on-campus jobs tend to be more relaxed than a post-graduate position, you have the freedom to express your personality and have a little more fun with your interview look. But, it's important to remember that you need to look polished and professional at all times.
Be tactful with the style "risk" you take. A bright-colored pair of pants, for example, paired with a simple top and nice ballet flats are acceptable. However, being "daring" in other ways—like with a low-cut top, short skirt, or overbearing accessories—won't work so well in your favor. Overall, you want to make sure your outfit emphasizes your maturity and intellect.
Top Interview Tip: After you've made a good first impression by dressing well, sending a post-interview thank you note is a great way to make a good last impression, too.