Dressing Appropriately for Job Interviews
My friend recently asked me, “What should I wear to a job interview?”
After we chatted for a few minutes, I realized something.
While there are millions of jobs at all kinds of different companies, there are really only five main factors that you need to keep in consideration when you are deciding what to wear for job interviews of any kind.
Five- Step Guide
Deciding What to Wear to Your Job Interview
1. Do research if necessary, but let your knowledge of the company’s dress code and culture determine the tone of your outfit.
For instance, you would probably not wear a coat and tie to interview for a position at a fitness studio. However, you would wear something along those lines if you were interviewing for a position with a financial firm. Understand the job that you are applying for, the company that you are applying to be a part of, and the way that the current employees in roles similar to the one you are applying for dress and conduct themselves. If you are unsure, then check the company’s website. Taking the time to do your research on this will narrow down your outfit choices significantly, and ensure that you are wearing clothes that appropriately fit the tone of the company. Ideally, you want your clothes to signify that you understand and can fit in with the company culture.
2. Err on the side of conservative.
The interview is about your potential future employer determining if you are a good fit for the role the company is trying to fill. Do not distract from your credentials, qualifications, resume, or great personality by wearing excessively tight or revealing, excessively baggy, wrinkly, or stained clothes. Polished and simple is the way to go. This is not the time to be controversial (unless being controversial is a part of the job description for the position that you are applying for). It is also probably not the time to whip out your biggest jewelry or most unique outfit choices– again, the exception being if doing so is actually in line with the company vibe. Forgive me for being obvious here, but for the sake of being thorough: remember that no matter what the case may be, you and your clothes absolutely all need to be clean.
3. Choose clothing that you feel comfortable and confident wearing.
Dressing for a job interview is also not the time to wear the pants that are just a little too tight when you sit down, nor is it the time to wear the blazer that you thought you loved but actually is itchy beyond belief. Wear something that you are physically comfortable in that also fits in a way that helps you feel confident in yourself from the moment that you enter the room to the moment that you walk out the door. Set yourself up to feel good physically during the interview by making sure that you like what you are wearing, and that the outfit does not cause any discomfort that might distract you during the interview (my point with the pants that are too tight: you need to be able to breathe). If you are interviewing on a warm day, bring a sweater in case the interview room is air conditioned and you get cold. If you are interviewing on a cold day, wear layers in case the interview room is heated and you get hot.
4. Plan ahead.
Make absolute sure that you know what outfit you are going to wear prior to the interview so that you can make sure that nothing needs to be dry-cleaned, that nothing has buttons missing or other alternations that need to be addressed, etc. Give yourself time to solve any problems with your outfit a few days prior to the interview so you can save yourself stress and give yourself your best shot.
5. Have a backup outfit if necessary.
If you are going to be out of your house all day and then go to your interview before returning home, make sure that you bring an extra outfit with you in your car or bag in the event that the unexpected happens. You never know if someone might bump into you and spill their coffee all over your shirt before your interview, for instance. If the interview is important to you, make sure you are prepared. If the interview is after a long day out of the house, perhaps you could wear something different during the day and then change into the outfit you want to wear to the interview. That way, you might also feel a little fresher. If you sweat a lot during the day, you might consider bringing deodorant and cologne/perfume with you so that you can ensure you smell good prior to going into your interview. Editor’s Note (03/16/2017): One of our readers recently commented with an insightful point– be wary of perfume and cologne, and perhaps skip it all together. She reminded us that you never know if your interviewer might be allergic to perfume, or if the scent that you love might be one that they hate. To avoid unintentionally leaving a negative impression, leave the perfume and cologne at home.
Now go get ’em, tiger!
Do you agree with the above guidelines? Have dressed for an interview using the principles mentioned here before and then scored the job? Tell us about it below, and then the next time somebody asks you, “what should I wear to a job interview,” send them here!
Have other tips and suggestions to follow when deciding what to wear for job interviews? Comment, comment, comment!
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Lauren King Savage and Your Friends at Twenties + Adulting
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