Within the first three steps of any job interview, first impressions are made. Controlling those impressions, which can drive career advancement, is often a matter of personal style. Let’s talk about that one question we ask ourselves everyday: What am I going to wear?

This question is never more important than the day of a job interview. Yes, yes, it’s your personality and skills that matter too, but your appearance is what your interviewer will notice first—and it can go a long way in showing that you’re ambitious, knowledgeable, and most importantly, a great fit for the company. And walking into an interview for any job can be intimidating, particularly if it’s a dream job or a company you believe in. 

Arriving at an office, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and–let’s be honest–a little queasy. A million questions go through your mind: What will they ask?  How will I answer? What is the RIGHT answer?  Will I be the right fit? Can I really succeed in this role? Will I like my new boss?

However, there are steps that you can take before you even leave your house that can make those final pre-interview minutes less about stress and more about maximizing your opportunity by being able to control the conversation. Because, let’s be honest. Confidence looks good on anyone.

Here are five ways to prepare to get the job you want.

  1. Do your research. Get to know the company you’re interviewing with.  Not just their products, services and customers but also focus on their leadership.  What is their story?  Who are their leaders?  What do they do?  What did they do prior to that? What articles are they in or have posted on LinkedIn? What causes, if any, do they believe support?  Why do they do what they do?  Consider the culture of the company as well.  What are their values? What is their reputation in the marketplace?
  2. Know Your Story:  Your resume bullet points of your professional goals and achievements are important – that’s how you were able to score the interview in the first place.  But what I have found is that many people have yet to capitalize on another key element as a way to ensure success. In fact, this may be the most essential element toward that coveted offer letter. Figure out who you are, what your personal brand is and what you are as a leadership and team member of a company. And that story must start in the closet.
  3. Style with intention: First impressions, as we know, are critical. What you wear immediately indicates whether you are trustworthy, knowledgeable and competent before you mutter a word.  The most important thing to remember when choosing an outfit is: What story do I want to share today? How can I use my outfit to guide the conversation effectively and successfully?  How can I establish a sense of trust and authenticity with them so that they listen to what I have to say?  What you wear should reflect your own personal story and style, but it should also align to the company’s brand. (Remember, since you’ve done your research, you have now seen images of the leadership team, learned not only the company values and brand but also their own personal stories.) The most important thing to remember when choosing an outfit is: What story do I want to tell today when my interviewer sees me for the first time? How can I establish a sense of trust and authenticity with them so that they listen to what I have to say?
  4. Prepare your own questions – you are interviewing them as well! When you go into an interview, your interview with them is just as consequential as their interview with you. Researching in advance allows you to ask thoughtful questions, create a dialogue with your interviewer, and prove that your interest in the company is authentic. Not only is this information essential in nailing your interview but also a great way for you to stand out amongst the other candidates. After all, you’re deciding if you want to work for them as much as they’re deciding whether they want to hire you – and employers want employees who are excited to come on board. 
  5. Change your mindset. Interviewing can be stressful, nerve-wracking and exhausting. Changing how you think about each meeting and what you say to yourself prior to walking through the front door matters. Instead of walking up to the front desk with the belief of I am here, simply change the order to Here I am.  Believe in yourself.  Own the room. Start the conversation that you want to have. 

Going in for an interview is simply the opportunity to have a conversation to explore whether you and the company are a right fit. Remember that a dream job isn’t just about the job title, the benefits and the product – it’s about immersing yourself in a strong culture that aligns with your values and living it. Good luck!