Dressing for Interview Success
Remember, it's always better to overdress than underdress!
August 03, 2016
You think it doesn’t matter what you wear to a job interview? You’re wrong.
When you walk up to your interview and shake their hand, they already have an impression of you. You haven’t even said anything yet!
True, there are other factors like timeliness, politeness, etc. But, for the sake of this article, let’s assume you’ve done everything else perfectly.
A great rule of thumb is to dress for the job you want. Ask yourself: would someone in your ideal position wear what you’re donning for the interview?
There are dos and don’ts when it comes to dressing for job interviews. These matter for men and women, alike!
Here are some dos and don’ts to follow when dressing for an interview, as well as a quick list of absolute no-nos.
1. Dress professionally
Think a tailored suit, collared shirt and tie for menswear. A suit with a coordinated blouse and tailored pants or skirt with limited elegant jewelry works well for women. For both men and women, neutral tones are the best for your suit, skirt or trousers– think black, gray and khaki.
Men, button up those shirts! Ties generally never count against someone.
If you’re interviewing at a start-up company, something slightly more casual is acceptable. But, even if your interviewer is wearing jeans, it doesn’t mean you should. In this case, wear something you’d wear meet your significant other’s parents or to a nice dinner.
2. Wear Professional Shoes
Sneakers are for the gym. Flip flops are for the beach. Wear presentable shoes!
3. Bring a Professional Presentation Folder or Briefcase
Nothing says, “I’m prepared an organized,” more than a professional, attractive folder or case stocked with your resume, cover letter and references. It looks a lot more professional than walking in with a pile of unorganized papers.
4. Wear Panty Hose
Bare legs don’t seem so professional, so nylons or tights are preferred. It’s becoming more acceptable to have bare legs, a long at your skirt or dress is an appropriate length (think right above the knee or longer).
5. Power Off Your Electronic Devices
You want the interviewer to know that they have your full attention. Even if you aren’t on it, it’s distracting for a phone to ring or vibrate during the interview. Turn it off so those issues don’t arise.
The only exception here is if you have an iPad or laptop that you need to utilize for presentation purposes during the interview.
6. Brush and Style Your Hair
Showing up with bed head screams, “I forgot about this until the last minute!” This is certainly not the impression you want to give, so make sure your hair looks tidy and presentable.
They say your smile is your best accessory for a reason. If you smile, you seem friendlier and easy to get along with. Plus, nobody wants to hire a grump. Don’t smile constantly – you’re not in a pageant – just a friendly hello, throughout the interview and goodbye works wonders.
8. Dress Classically
When in doubt, stick to classic staples. If you have to debate whether or not the outfit is appropriate, don’t take a gamble.
9. Dress like You Already Work There
People in offices tend to dress similarly. Before you interview, grab a cup of job and sit nearby the building and observe what others are wearing. If it’s super casual, dress up a bit more but, if it seems like everyone is wearing a suit, you can take cues from their looks.
10. Manicure Your Nails
This applies to both men and women. Dirty, unkempt hands show you don’t take pride in your experience and, as an interviewer; they will likely picture you shaking hands with business associates.
Obviously, men just need clean, groomed nails – no polish, etc. Women should choose a neutral color, rather than an obscure trendy color choice. You don’t want something as small as your fingernails to stop you from getting the job, do you?
1. Wear Bold Clothing
You want the interview to see you, not what you’re wearing. Bold colors and flashy apparel distracts the interviewer from what they should be focusing on: you. That goes for bright colors, excessive jewelry, wild shoes and quirky ties.
2. Wear Super Trendy Apparel
It’s an interview, not a runway. No matter how casual the environment, you want to look professional. If you’re in a creative field, you can easily dress stylish yet professionally.
Keep in mind that your idea of trendy or fashionable may not be the same as your interviewer’s, so sticking to the classics is always safer.
3. Wear Wrinkled or Ripped Clothing
You don’t want to give off the impression that you’re messy, frazzled and don’t have it together. Similarly, anything you wear should be clean and certainly not ripped – no matter how stylish you think it looks.
4. Wear Denim or Sweats
Wearing casual wear, like denim or sweats sends the message, “I don’t care,” to your interviewer. Remember, interviews aren’t meant to be a comfortable, casual situation. They are for you to show your professionalism and denim or sweatpants don’t accomplish that.
5. Casual Does Not Mean What You’d Wear on Weekends
If the work environment is casual, guys should wear tailored pants and a button down. Women should wear a nice dress, skirt and blouse or tailored pants and button down.
6. Wear Sunglasses on Your Head
Chances are the office you’re interviewing in isn’t sunny, so skip the shades.
7. Wear White Socks with Dress Shoes
Men are guilty of this more often than women. Invest in a nice pair of dress socks to go with your professional, presentable shoes.
8. Make-up or Perfume Overload
We know you want to be taken seriously, but a face full of makeup is distracting and overdone. Use make-up sparingly to look presentable yet natural.
Similarly, too much perfume or scented lotions can be distracting and overwhelming to an interviewer. If you use perfume, one spritz should do the trick.
Men, go easy on the aftershave!
9. Bring a Beverage
Most likely, the interviewer or receptionist will offer you a beverage anyway. So skip the latte temptation, the less you have to hold the better. The only things you should arrive with are professional documents in a portfolio or briefcase.
10. Chew Gum
We know you want fresh breath, so feel free to chew gum on the way to the interview. Chewing gum looks (and sounds) sloppy, so save your chomping addiction for when you exit.
There are some items that are never appropriate for an interview, no matter what the job type. Stay away from the following items, at all costs!
• Miniskirts or Short Dresses
• Leather Jackets
• Turtlenecks (for men)
• Athletic Socks
• Flip Flops
• Gaudy Jewelry
• Revealing clothing
• Baggy Clothes
• Stained, Soiled or Wrinkled Clothing
• Graphic Tees
• Tattoos and Piercings (This depends on where you’re interviewing)
• Short sleeved shirts with a Tie
• Gym Clothes
• Sky-High Heels
Have you ever made a poor outfit decision for an interview or interviewed someone who made one?