A few years ago I did a massive career transformation. On the morning of my interview I was literally hauling a sculpture on a garbage dolly to the loading dock at Portage Place mall. After lunch I changed into a shift dress and put on a blazer and went to the interview.

I landed the position as a Consultant. I wore a blazer to the interview because my mother-in-law said it was “that kind of place.” A few days into the job, I was stopped on the street by a photographer and he took this portrait of me.



(photo by David Lipnowski)

Sharp right?

It was the only job I ever landed wearing a blazer. For the first year, I wore a blazer nearly every day, mostly thrifted, but I felt like I was playing dress-up. It wasn’t that I wasn’t an HR professional, it was that I took the cue of what an HR professional is from other people. Once I stopped wearing blazers to work, I came into my own.

Because I sold myself as a blazer, I kept it up longer than I needed to. I don’t regret that role, it is a top role in my career, I learned career development from some of the best practitioners in the field and became friends with talented recruiters. It would have been more amazing if I had had the confidence from the beginning to show that I wasn’t a blazer. For a short, but interesting history of the power suit check out this article.

I have had clients who get stuck on the need to wear a suit to an interview. They get stressed by it, when most places they are applying to wouldn’t expect it. Blazer styles change slightly every year, and you can easily make you look outdated if you wear the wrong one (unless is a cool vintage one, but still not quite the right piece for an interview.)

When deciding what to wear, dress in your professional best and something that shows your personality, but you are comfortable in (not lounge comfortable.)

What should you wear to an interview then?

Wear a blazer if it makes you feel confident and professional and you have a closet full of them
Wear something that makes you feel confident and professional. I like a fitted skirt with a sweater or blouse, or dress pants with a nice sweater
Interesting jewelry — it could start a conversation and can dress up any outfit
Do your research about the dress code at their office and dress one notch above the normal dress code
Shoes matter. For more on that read my article on scuffy shoes and fit
Blue seems safe, avoid brown and orange — for more on that check this article out
Ultimately, whatever you wear you should feel like it is expressing the best professional version of yourself. Oh, and wear a smile.

Do you wear a blazer to a job interview? If you hire people, do you prefer candidates that wear a blazer? Does it depend on the role?

I am all about helping people use their stories to land new jobs, and if they don’t know what kind of job, I help with that too. Sign up for my newsletter here.

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