Jobs are tough to come by no matter who you are, so why let your wardrobe keep you from getting hired? People will spend hours and days agonizing over how they will answer difficult interview questions, but they often forget that how you look plays a vital role in getting hired. I’m not saying getting a job is a beauty contest, but the manner in which you present yourself can speak volumes on who you are and how you will represent the hiring company in the years to come. You should treat dressing for your interview differently than how you treat dressing for a family reunion or formal gathering. It’s not just about dressing nice, it’s about dressing to fit the company’s atmosphere. A solid, go-to suit
is a great start, but remember that no two companies are alike and may not all be a “suit-up” kind of atmosphere. Just as you will prepare for each interview in a unique way, you must
also prepare what you are wearing just the same. Following are some tips on how to dress for your job interview.
Do Your Research: As you prepare for your upcoming interview you will undoubtedly research the hiring company thoroughly. While conducting your research, make sure you get a good grasp on the company’s culture. What’s the work environment? How do their employees dress? How does the boss dress? These are all important questions to ask yourself before deciding on exactly what it is you should wear to the interview. Getting the answers to these questions can be tough, but if you have any contacts with the company already it’s a good start to ask them. If you don’t have a personal contact but have been speaking with the interviewer, don’t be afraid to ask them about the culture and hint to what people will wear. This may seem awkward at first, but it shows that you eager to learn more about their company and what their work environment is. Understanding the company’s culture is the first step, but what now? Following are some tips and guidance to what you should wear for you interview depending on the company’s culture.
Business: If you are applying to a company that is business-centric, stick with the suit. The business suit is a staple to any wardrobe and when properly fitted is hard to beat in the “lookin’ good” category. The key to that statement is the properly fitted part. Don’t borrow your dads suit; it will make you look like you don’t know how to dress yourself and will come off as childish (something companies do not want to hire). Make sure you wear the full suit with a tie, belt, and dark business shoes. If you are fresh out of college and purchasing your first and only suit, stick with black since it can be worn for any interview.
Business-Casual:If your research shows that the company you are interviewing for is more on the casual end of the spectrum, a traditional suit might not always be your best bet. However, it is better to be safe than sorry so a well-fitted suit won’t work against you. If you want to try and match the company atmosphere more, especially for companies that are highly creative, try toning down your wardrobe while maintaining the aura that you mean business. A nice pair of khakis with a dress shirt (tucked in!) is a great choice. Make sure you where a dark belt and business shoes as well to keep you on the business side of things. Ties are not a must, but if you feel you are under-dressed go ahead and wear one. The key for the business casual wardrobe is to not dress down too much. No matter the company, you want to show that you are a professional and that you are ready to work. This means no jeans!
Casual:In this job market you must be ready for anything. If you get a call one day to meet for lunch or coffee with a prospective job interview, you have to be ready to adjust your wardrobe on the fly for this unique situation. These situations may not be formal, but they still require a degree of wardrobe preparation. Showing up in a suit when the interviewer wears more casual attire might seem awkward and will only make things uncomfortable for you. However, showing up in a t shirt and shorts when your interviewer is a bit more business can be much worse. If you are not certain as to what your interviewer will wear, the general rule is to play it safe and dress up. It’s better to overdo than under, so your best bet will be to dress business causal. No one will blame you for trying to dress nice, and you will look good doing it.
In the end, the most important rule to live by is to play it safe. No one will blame you for wearing a suit to an interview no matter what the company atmosphere may be. In this tough economy, hiring managers know that you want to look your absolute best. If you dress nice and feel confident it will carry through into your interview. If you are lucky enough to get a second interview and feel you overdressed for the first, then you can tone it down a bit if you like. Just remember, you got the second interview in your suit so you can’t go wrong sticking with what works.