Interviews can be the most nerve racking part of the hiring process as a candidate. Meeting face to face with the hiring manager is the test that will show if you are truly qualified. Obviously, you don’t want anything to detract you from looking like the best possible candidate. While most candidates are well prepared, some fail to think of the most obvious influencing factor: clothes. How you dress is always the first impression you make. Thus, it’s incredibly important you get it right.
To start, we’ll go over a few key basic points before moving on to more complex matters. Obviously make sure you have showered and used deodorant. Fingernails should also be cleaned and trimmed, and women should avoid colors that are too flashy. Both men and women should have well groomed hair. For men, it’s a good idea to get a haircut a few days before the interview. Shorter more conservative haircuts tend to do better. Also make sure you are clean shaven. However if you have a beard or mustache, make sure it is well groomed and trimmed. Any visible piercings should be removed, and men shouldn’t wear earrings. Lastly, make sure everything looks fresh. Your shirt, jacket, skirt, and all other accessories should be recently cleaned and ironed.
Both men and women should wear minimal to no perfume or cologne. A strong scent could put off an interviewer, or even worse: induce an allergy. Playing it safe with scents makes sense. Don’t indulge any nervous habits in the interview either. Avoid biting your nails or tapping your pen. Also, leave your gum, cigarettes, and toothpicks at home. Smelling like smoke or chewing gum can come off as unprofessional. One thing you certainly should bring is a briefcase or a portfolio. Make sure you have someplace to take notes on the position. This will illustrate your genuine interest in the position and the notes will be a good resource to review after you leave.
Dress to Impress
The biggest challenge with figuring out what to wear is knowing what is expected. A general rule of thumb commonly used is to dress a level higher than the position you are interviewing for. This is a good practice since it’s much better to be overdressed than under-dressed. Outside of guess work, if you have a contact within the company, you have a great way to find out about the company culture. Ask your contact what general work attire is expected, and gauge your dress accordingly.
Generally, you should lean towards the more conservative side. In regards to style and dress, focus on earthy colors. It’s okay to consider a bright accessory like a tie, but don’t go overboard. If you dress too flashy you risk your skills and qualifications being overshadowed by your fashion sense. It can be good to make a statement, but not when it overrides your qualified candidacy.
No matter how you dress, it is typically not what you will have to wear everyday. Going out of your way to make sure your interview outfit is just right is a smart move. Within reason, you should spend a little extra to make sure you look your best. Also, make sure your new outfit fits you well. Something too big makes you look like an unqualified child in his father’s suit, whereas clothing too tight could make the interview uncomfortable and look awkward on you. If you can’t have the suit tailored at least spend your time getting a close to custom look.
There is plenty more we could discuss with interview attire, since there are so many different situations. Expectations across different companies can be incredibly diverse, so it’s important to view interviews in this light on a case by case basis. With this advice, we hope to bring you one step closer to looking your best for your next job interview.