We’ve all heard you should “dress for success” but when it comes to job interviews, it’s tricky to know how to dress. A rule of thumb is to dress just a bit more conservatively than people dress where you are interviewing. For example:
- Casual work environment (jeans): khaki pants and polo shirt for men, slacks and blouse or sweater for women.
- Business casual work environment: slacks and button down shirt for men, slacks or skirt, blouse and jacket for women.
- Formal work environment (suits): a suit and tie for men, a skirt and jacket for women.
If you are not sure about the dress, ask the person setting up the interview, “How do people dress there?” It’s a good idea to drive by the place the day before to check out directions, traffic and parking. This could be a good time to observe the dress of people who work there.
More important than what you wear is how you wear it. Some basic rules:
A good fit. Nothing looks worse than bad fit, especially too small.
Keep it clean. Keep extra clothes in your car. If you are wearing something you have not worn in awhile, get it out and make sure it’s clean.
Details, details. Don’t distract from your qualifications with a missing button or a wrinkled shirt.
Comfort. If your outfit does not make you feel good and comfortable, that may show in the interview. If you never wear heels, do not throw on a pair on your way out the door to an interview.
Cover up! Nothing should show that is non-professional. Enough said.
Avoid the awkward. A recent college grad was savvy enough to buy a pair of dress shoes for interviewing but neglected to get dark colored dress socks to go with them. Nothing shouts “first job” like interviewing in white athletic socks!
It’s the little things. Groomed nails, polished shoes and a belt if the outfit requires one will all make you look more professional and pulled together.
The good news is you do not need a huge wardrobe for interviewing. A few simple, classic pieces should do the trick. And, the even better news is that while looking your best for an interview is important, qualifications and confidence are the two things interviewers notice most.