What Shoes Should You Wear To Your Next Job Interview? Tips From An Image Expert

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There is a lot of fuss made about what to wear for the interview.

The suiting is very important, but it will lose its winning effect if you don’t pair it with the right shoes.

I have met with more than a few candidates in my day who were either tipping over as a result of sky-high heels or had their black gym shoes double as dress shoes.

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Even worse were the candidates who wore shoes so tattered and stained it signalled to me that they were not truly invested in the meeting.

Getting the footwear right is crucial to pulling off a professional and put-together look. It’s all in the details!

General guidelines

Footwear for both men and women should be in proportion to their frame. Those with a smaller or petite frame should not wear a shoe that is heavy soled or too thick as it will draw the attention to the feet. Conversely, those with a larger frame should keep their footwear in proportion to their size – a shoe that is more delicate will throw off the balance.

Shoes, regardless if they are leather or non-leather, should always be sprayed with protector and kept clean and polished. Grass or salt stains and other debris on shoes is unacceptable and unprofessional. You will also burn through those shoes quickly if you don’t give them some TLC. Save your money and invest in the right shoe care.

If they are shoes that you would otherwise wear to the golf course, to the grocery store or the club on Saturday night, then it is possible they are not suited for an office environment.

As it turns out, you can judge a man by his shoes

Laces are generally what separate a ‘dressy’ shoe from a more casual shoe as far as men’s footwear goes.

Laces are the way to go for a business dress look.  Laces give you more options to dress up or dress down, whereas a plain loafer style suggests business casual.

My recommendation to all of my male clients is that they should invest in one solid black OR brown leather (or non-leather equivalent) shoe – brown shoes are a great alternative to black and they go wonderfully with either navy or grey suiting.

A true dress shoe generally always has a leather sole versus rubber. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Leather, while much more durable, will need some added TLC from your cobbler over the years, and some leather soles can be uncomfortable at first.

However, investing in a more expensive leather-soled shoe will give you comfort and durability over the years. Rubber-soled shoes, while less expensive and generally more comfortable, once worn are done and there is little you can do to extend their life.

Invest in a shoe tree – they will keep the shape, absorb any moisture and keep your feet smelling better!

People will notice your socks, so don’t try to have your gym sock double as your work sock.  Stick to the basics and ensure your socks complement your pant colour.

Ladies, save your stilettos for the weekend

The biggest mistake I see with woman and footwear is the length of the heel. Women looking for a professional look should limit their heel length to no more than three inches – more than this and you start getting into ‘party’ shoes, but a heel is required to ensure the look is business dress.

For those women who have a hard time wearing heels for whatever reason can look into alternatives such as ‘kitten heels’ that add minimal height and are business appropriate.

I always advise my female clients to have one good pair of black heels in the two to three inch range as they will work in a variety of settings.

For those women who have a hard time wearing heels for whatever reason can look into alternatives such as ‘kitten heels’ that add minimal height and are business appropriate.

The morning and evening commute can wreak havoc on women’s heels – instead of reaching for your sneakers, try a ballet flat in a neutral colour.

Open toed shoes can be office appropriate, but you will need to check to see what it is acceptable in your organization. However open toed shoes are NEVER appropriate for the interview.

Photo credit: Free High Heel Shoes Save The Next Dance for Me Creative Commons by D. Sharon Pruitt on Flickr
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About the author

Erin Miller is a Toronto-based image expert and HR/talent thought leader. She works with clients and candidates ranging from new graduates to C-level suite executives on all aspects of appearance, behaviour and communication. Her background in talent acquisition opened her eyes to the power image plays in an individual's success and she works to help people harness that power to their best personal advantage. You can follow Erin and her image and career related advice on Facebook, Twitter or her site www.erinmillerimage.com.