What to Wear to an Interview

Deciding what to wear to an interview isn’t as simple as it used to be.   With the advent of “business casual”, what to wear to an interview has gotten a bit more complicated.

1) Dress a notch above.   In general, you want to dress a little bit nicer than the way you would be required to dress if you get the job.   So, if you’re applying for a position that requires you to get dirty and wear a uniform, you don’t need to dress in a suit.   Slacks and a sweater or perhaps a blazer would be fine.   Similarly, if you’ll be wearing a suit everyday, wear a good suit and shirt.   First impressions count.

2) Look the part.   If you’re interviewing for a position at a bank, visible tattoos and lots of piercings are probably not a good idea.   On the other hand, if you’re interviewing for a job in a tattoo parlor, tattoos are probably required!   If you are interviewing for a position in a creative workplace, you probably have a bit more room to show some flair and dressing too conservatively could hurt your chances.   Dress to fit in to the workplace, but avoid extremes.   Ladies, no low cut dresses.   Men, avoid loud ties.

3) If in doubt, go conservative.   If you’re not sure what the dress code is like at the workplace, there are a number of things you can do.  Ask someone who works there or who used to work there (look on LinkedIn to see if you have someone in your network).   Look at their website to see what type of public image the company displays.   If they show pictures of guys in suits and white shirts, it’s probably a conservative workplace.    If you live near the company, you can go to their parking lot around closing time and see what people are wearing.

4) Use common sense about accessories.   I once didn’t hire someone because of her earrings.   Before you get angry at me, I was hiring someone to watch my young school-age children.   She showed up with earrings in the shape of the word “SEXY” in large letters.  If she had been the absolute best candidate, could I have overlooked the earrings?  Perhaps.  But, to me, it told me that she didn’t have a lot of common sense.  Think about your audience when dressing for your interview.

5)  Be well groomed.   Above all, you need to be well groomed.   Make sure your clothes fit well and that they’re clean and pressed.   Polish your shoes, make sure your nails and hair are clean and nicely styled.    Avoid heavy perfume or aftershave.   If you smoke, make sure your clothes don’t smell like it.   Employers don’t like hiring smokers and they’ll be able to tell if you had a cigarette right before your interview.

When you’re interviewing for a job, employers are looking for people who will represent their company well and who will fit into the company culture.   Keep that in mind and make sure that what you wear doesn’t make you stand out for the wrong reasons.

Happy hunting!

This entry was posted on Friday, October 21st, 2011 at 1:52 pm and is filed under Interview Preparation, Job Search, LinkedIn. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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