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How to Dress for a Job Interview

Category : Job Search

Overview

When interviewing for a job, it is always important to dress your best. The first thing an interviewer will notice will be how you look and what you’re wearing. You want to give a great first impression. In today’s competitive job market, this has become especially important. From a survey done by ClassesandCareers.com on 2000 bosses, 65% said clothes could be the deciding factor between two similar candidates. You need to show that it is you who deserves to be there.

So, what is appropriate to wear to a job interview? Proper dress for an interview may differ by industry. Some companies are more casual than others. If you know someone who works in the company you are applying to, you can ask them about the culture or typical dress code. You can also call the human resources department to ask what they would recommend. The important thing is to dress professionally. This can either be wearing business attire or smart casual attire. You don’t always have to wear a suit, but if you are unsure about how to dress for an interview, keep in mind that it is better to be overdressed.

Business Attire

Men

  • Conservative suit in a solid color
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Conservative tie
  • Solid-colored belt
  • Dark socks high enough to cover the ankles
  • Conservative leather shoes
  • Tasteful silver or gold watch
  • Neat hairstyle
  • Trimmed nails
  • Light cologne or aftershave
  • Portfolio or briefcase

Women

  • Conservative suit in a solid color
  • Coordinated blouse
  • Suit skirt long enough to sit down comfortably
  • Tan or neutral pantyhose
  • Closed shoes with reasonably-high heels
  • Limited jewelry
  • Neat hairstyle
  • Neatly manicured nails
  • Light make-up and perfume
  • Portfolio or briefcase

Smart Casual Business Attire

Some workplaces or jobs are less formal, so you may opt for a dress code that is less formal as well. However, it is still important to dress neatly and professionally.

Men

  • Neatly pressed cotton, gabardine, or khaki pants
  • Pressed, long-sleeved cotton button-down shirts, polo shirts or knit shirt with a collar
  • Sweaters
  • Leather shoes
  • Solid-colored belt
  • Tie if desired

Women

  • Neatly pressed cotton, corduroy, twill, or khaki pants or skirt
  • Sweaters, cardigans, polo or knit shirts
  • Closed shoes with reasonably-high heels
  • One-colored purse

Colors to Wear

Wearing the right colors is an important thing to consider but is often overlooked. The right colors can help show your professionalism and boost your confidence. It can also give the interviewer an idea of your personality.

Choose solid colors and neutrals instead of bright patterns. This helps ensure that your clothes will not distract. You want to be remembered for your qualifications and skills, not for the bright clothes you wore. Solid black, navy, brown or dark gray are the best colors for a job interview. Suits and dresses in these colors look professional without being distracting. White is also perfect for a button-down shirt or blouse. If you want to add a pop of color, choose pale or pastel colors. Small patters are fine, but the rule is to select one that is small enough to look solid from across a room.

Doing a bit of research on the work environment of the company you’re applying to can help you decide. You want to wear colors that show you will fit in the company culture. If the workplace is more conservative and formal, you should stick to neutral, solid colors. In workplaces that are more casual, you can opt to add soft colors that convey a bit of your personality without being overwhelming. However, if you are in doubt, the safest choice would still be to dress conservatively with neutral, solid colors.

Interview Attire Tips

  • Dress a step up to the job you are applying for.
  • Get your outfit ready the night before so you’re not in a rush. Make sure everything is appropriate and fits well.
  • For women, remember that pantyhose can rip easily. Bring an extra pair just in case.
  • Make sure you walk into the interview with fresh breath. Use a breath mint before entering the building, and do not chew gum during an interview.
  • No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry.
  • Wear something that’s comfortable but still professional and presentable.
  • Avoid wearing jeans, even if you’re dressing for a casual workplace.
  • Wear shoes that are polished and clean, and make sure they match with the rest of your outfit.
  • Cover your tattoos.
  • If you have many piercings, avoid using all your rings. For women, wear a pair of earrings only.

Remember that appearances do matter in an interview. Be professional and be smart. Prospective employers need to see that you’d be a great addition to their company, and an important influence of their decision to hire you will be the first impression you make.



Image: Flicker-Alex France