While dressing for a teaching interview requires professional business attire, remember, you're also being judged on your practicality and your knowledge of the typical daily responsibilities of a teacher. A hiring manager will attempt to get a feel for your personality and your student-friendly approach based on what you say, what you do and what you wear.
Even though a teaching interview calls for a professional look, it's not quite so formal as to require a three-piece dress suit. Wear slacks and a button-down blouse, dress, skirt and shell with a blazer, a pantsuit or a sweater set. Wear sheer hose and a low heel, closed-toe shoe or loafer. Go easy on the accessories by wearing conservative jewelry pieces and select color accents like a scarf, belt or fitted jacket.
Exceptions to the Rule
If you’re interviewing for a college-level teaching position, a more formal look is required, such as a tailored business suit, dressy blouse and pumps. Similarly, if you're interviewing for a teaching job at a preschool or kindergarten, it's okay to show a little more kid-friendly personality and practicality with your attire. For example, bright colors are appropriate, though you wouldn't wear something like a long, white silk dress, because it's simply not practical for the job. You want the hiring manager to be able to envision you in the classroom.
Personal grooming is just as important to presenting a professional image as the attire you choose. Cover up visible tattoos and remove body piercings, other than earrings. Even if you feel these are completely acceptable forms of personal expression, a conservative environment like a school might not agree. Forgo any wild hairstyles and unusual hair colors, excessive make up or heavy perfume. These can be seen as distractions that are inappropriate for a classroom environment.
What Not to Wear
In addition to dressing for practical purposes, understand that your judgment is being critiqued during the interview process as well. Don't wear tight or revealing clothing, low-cut blouses, short skirts or excessively high heels. Leave patterned hosiery, sequined or sheer fabrics at home, and opt for an overall conservative dress style. You'll likely be expected to enforce dress code standards as a teacher, and the first step toward getting the job is showing that you know how to dress yourself appropriately.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.