It's the era for working women! Other than World War II, men have always made up the larger demographic in the workforce in the United States. But according to Bloomberg, 86% of job growth in the last two years can be credited to women who have joined the workforce. It's good news for women's progression as jobs enable independence and more representation across industries. Of course, more women looking for jobs also means that the pool of competition for the same jobs is also bigger.

So what can you do to increase your chances of getting hired? Most of us have heard about the importance of writing the perfect resume and learning how to spin some summer job into actual valuable experience for potential employers but often, the preparation stops at that. What's often overlooked is what comes after the resume: the interview. Even the perfect resume and all the experience in the world won't matter if you don’t also bring you’re A game to the interview. And while you might not know exactly what's going to happen during the interview, there are ways you can prepare so that you can impress your potential future employers.

The number one way to prepare is by doing your research on the company you're applying to. Researching will give you so much information that can help you not only ace the interview but also determine if the position and the company are actually right for you.

First impressions are super important and in this case, the very first impression you make will be made through your outfit choice. One of the first things to find out ahead of time is what kind of environment you'll be working in. Is it highly professional or more laid back? Like the saying goes, dress for the job you want. If you're applying for a highly professional corporate job, then a more traditional work outfit is your best bet. Of course, not all jobs subscribe to the highly clean-cut and professional aesthetic anymore and might actually opt for a much more casual look. You want them to be able to easily envision you as part of the company so dressing in a way that will match their environment can go a long way. While the dress code is highly dependent on the job you're applying for, these are some basic guidelines that you can and should follow, no matter what the position is:

 

Look put together.

Even when you've found that the environment calls for more casual wear, that's not a go-ahead to show up looking like you just rolled out of bed. Iron out wrinkly clothes, don't wear old, scraggly pieces, make sure the clothes aren't dirty or stained. It should be obvious that you actually put effort into putting your outfit together and getting ready.

 

Don't be too revealing or fashion forward.

Just because something is cute, doesn't mean it belongs in the office. Unless you're applying for a job in the fashion industry, overly trendy and/or revealing clothes might signal to the interviewer that you're not professional or mature enough for the position. Always err on the side of traditional and conservative when in doubt.

 

Better to show up overly dressed than under-dressed.

Through research, you're very likely to figure out exactly what you should and shouldn't wear for that particular position. But on the off chance that you can't find any information on that, it's a good idea to show up more formal than not. After all, looking too put together for a position is better than looking like you just couldn't get your life together enough to look presentable.

 

 

Those fashion choices do not only apply to your actual clothes but also your hair and makeup. Again, it all really depends on the position you're applying to but the safer choice is to go with a more minimal, but clean-cut look. Makeup wise, don't go overboard. A full beat is beautiful but unless you're applying for something in the beauty industry, too much makeup can be distracting for the interviewer. Instead, go for the no makeup-makeup look. As far as hair goes, there are also some basic guidelines that you should take note of:

 

Dry your hair.

Never ever show up to an interview with wet hair or wet product. This make it seem like you ran out of time to dry your hair and poor time management skills are not looked at favorably in any job.

 

Keep your hair out of your face.

When you're interviewing, you want to be able to focus on the conversation between yourself and the person asking questions. Especially if you're a nervous fiddler, the last thing you need is to have hair falling in your face every few seconds. This is distracting not only to you but can also be distracting to the interviewer.

 

Go with tried-and-true.

Your job interview is the absolute last occasion where you want to experiment with a new hairstyling method or hairdo. For example, a wash n go is not a bad hairstyle if you know how to do it right. But if you still haven't perfected the style, then you're just going to look messy and not put together. Go with a hairdo that you know how to do and don't struggle to attain.

 

 

Okay! So now you know the perfect look that's going to make the best impression but now you actually have to back it up with a killer interview. How can you do that? Again, research research research! Research the company, research your potential boss, and research the interviewer if they're a different person from your boss. You'd be surprised what you can find out that you can use to your advantage. Like they say, knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have on the position and company, the more likely you'll be able to impress them. After you've done the research, you can complete these next basic steps to help you prepare for the interview.

 

Do some self-reflecting.

While you can't know what exactly they're going to ask you, the point of the interview is to get to know you and your experience. Do some personal inventory and figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Think of stories and examples of things that will help play up your strengths and ways to spin your weaknesses. Since they want to know about you, these things will probably come up one way or another so it's best to have those stories and examples in the back of your mind so you can use them when the moment comes.

 

Practice interviewing.

Practice makes perfect! Enlist the help of friends and family to do a mock interview with you. If you're in school, look into their career centers which often have career counselors who specialize in this. A mock interview will help you get a better idea of what to expect with the added bonus that the interviewer can actually give you feedback on what you did well and what you can improve on.

 

Have questions for the interviewer.

Though it might not seem like it, the interview is not actually only meant for the interviewer. This is your chance to get to know more about the position and company that you couldn't find through your research. On top of that, having questions ready for your potential employer will show them that you took the time to research and are serious about the job. Of course, this is NOT the time to ask about how much you're going to get paid. That question should be saved for when they've actually extended an offer.

 

Show up early.

Nothing is more unprofessional and more rude than showing up late. Being late signals that you don't care about the interviewer's time and/or that you just really can't get your life together enough to be on time. The rule of thumb here: if you're on time, you're already late. Plan to show up at least 20 to 30 minutes before your interview time and remember to always add more time to account for traffic, for find a parking spot, and for walking into the actual office/building.

 

We know, this is probably a lot of knowledge to take in at one time. But if you start preparing with enough time, this shouldn't feel too overwhelming. In the end, what you get out depends on what you put in to it. Put in the work to prep for the interview and you're more likely to get…well, work.