By Madison Krauser
“You can Never be Overdressed or Overeducated.”—Oscar Wilde
You can’t go wrong with business attire, no matter what industry the job interview is for. However, how casual or formal you dress is dependent on multiple factors, including, what industry you are interviewing for and more importantly, your comfort level. If you feel uncomfortable and suffocating in a pantsuit or your heels are too painful to walk in, chances are, you will be more concentrated on your outfit than the actual interview. This may affect your demeanor and possibly lead to an unsuccessful interview. Wear what you feel most comfortable in; what gives you the confidence to succeed, but also what is deemed as appropriate for the industry you are interviewing for. To help you put together your perfect interview outfit, here are a few tips tailored to a teaching job interview.
You landed an interview with the school of your choice, congrats! Now comes the hard part…what to wear? Although teachers tend to dress a bit more casually, it’s essential that you showcase your best look for an interview. Remember, you can never be overdressed or overeducated. Just as important as your credentials, is how you dress for a job interview. According to research by Dr. Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, more that 50 percent of another person’s perception of you is based on how you look. Consequently, dress for success, as the first impression a potential employer makes of you is a crucial one.
The Skirt Suit
To make the best impression and most memorable one, you want to dress both conservatively and professionally, dressier than everyday attire for the position. Rather than dress like a teacher, dress like an administrator. The best interview look is the skirt suit. However, pantsuits are a good choice and a safe one too. The key here is to think in terms of “three pieces,” a tailored skirt and blouse, or slacks and a blouse, worn with a blazer or lightweight sweater. Nevertheless, if you choose a skirt, be sure to wear flesh-toned pantyhose (no runs)! Stockings or pantyhose are flawless and moderate. For a clean appearance, try a white pencil skirt paired with a high-low hem blouse and a tweed blazer, bringing a tailored polish to any look.
Material: The material of your clothing is what makes all the difference in appearing professional. A tight, stretchy skirt that can take you from work to the club in a matter of seconds is not an appropriate look for a job interview.
Fit and Length: Make sure it fits. Whether you choose a skirt suit or pantsuit, make sure that it is tailored, showing attention to detail, but not so form fitting. Dress in a way that flatters your body type: never tight, never loose. Your skirt should fall at or near the knee. Better to be too long than too short.
Tailoring and Cleaning: Just as important as the material and fit of your suit, is the tailoring and cleaning. Be sure to get your suit both tailored and cleaned at least a weak in advance to avoid the hassle of doing so right before the interview. Nothing looks as polished and clean-cut as a well-tailored suit.
Think conservatively, a long sleeve, opaque, solid color blouse or button up shirt. A blouse in a complimentary color such as white, cream or pastel will pair well with the bottoms you selected. Brown is still seen as a “weak” color and is not as dressy. Select a top that allows the interviewer to focus on your fit for the job, not on a slipping bra strap or low-cut neckline. The focus should be on your skills, not your clothing. Take into consideration that you are not only setting an example for the students you teach, you are also the face of the school when you appear on public occasions.
Grooming and Accessories:
If nothing else, invest in a good pair of shoes or a purse. If you can’t afford to, carry a minimalist leather tote, and wear simple heels or loafers for a chic look. Also essential, no nicks and scratches on shoes, bags, or anything else you’re wearing.
Shoes: Your shoe selection for a teaching job interview should be professional and understated, regardless of the current shoe trend. With that being said, a safe choice is a dark colored, mid heel, closed-toe pump. Notably, wear shoes that are comfortable, a new pair might not be broken in and your feet will kill you! If heels are too painful for you to walk in, oxford loafers or ballet flats are an appropriate alternative.
Bag: Carry a leather purse or briefcase with you, but not both. Logo is a no-go. Avoid putting brands on display. A purse covered in logos is not what you want to be seen carrying around. Also, have ready, multiple copies of your resume and cover letter.
Jewelry: Dress up your look with stud earrings or another piece of moderate jewelry. However, keep it simple. Less is more. A pin or a necklace and a watch, no more than one bracelet and one ring per hand. When in doubt, a classic strand of pearls adds sophistication and elegance. You are setting an example for students and represent the school. Thus, if possible, remove all piercings and cover tattoos.
Hair: Make sure your hair is clean and healthy looking. Your hair should be neatly groomed and worn away from the face. Keep your hairstyle simple, you don’t need or want pieces of your hair constantly falling into your eyes while you are interviewing. Stick to a style you are familiar with and won’t need constant attention. More favorably, your hair should be worn down and straightened, or tied back and professional.
Makeup: Keep your makeup to a minimum, sticking to daytime-appropriate looks. Avoid bright colors and heavy application. If you normally don’t wear makeup, today is not the day to experience with it! Stick to neutral eyeshades, soft pink blush to add a bit of color to your cheeks, and a light-colored lipstick. Avoid lip-gloss, as you don’t want your hair catching to your lips.
Nails: Your nails should be short to medium in length. Preferably manicured with light or clear polish.
Perfume: Do not drown yourself in your perfume. Your perfume shouldn’t follow you into a room!
Remember, you are being looked at as someone who sets an example for students and what you wear and how you dress reflects your good judgment. Therefore, the first impression should not be distracting. Dress in a polished, poised, and professional manner.
Good luck on your job interview and go kill it! –The SS Team