Whether you like it or not the world is driven by marketing and when you’re looking for a job you’re marketing yourself. Companies spend millions of dollars on the right look and packaging for their products to ensure their target customers reach in their wallets to purchase them. Let’s do the math; on average a company expects at least 4 years of service from a new hire; let’s say your salary is $60K @ 4 years = $240K plus benefits. When was the last time you asked someone to invest a quarter of a million dollars in you? Whether you’re worth it or not you better look it. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and purchase top dollar designer clothing to make this statement, but you need to take pride in your appearance and follow expected guidelines to increase your odds of getting a job offer. This does mean you might need to make some type of investment in an interviewing wardrobe if you don’t have one; but today there are many inexpensive retailers to assist. If an interviewer can see you take pride in how you present yourself, it will translate that you will take pride in presenting their company. A professional appearance will also communicate to the interviewer that you take them and the interview serious.
Many employers will not admit it, but they place a great deal of importance on the manner in which a candidate dresses for an interview. Remember you need to make a great first impression and a lasting one. In reality, you might not be remembered for how good you looked but you can be negatively remembered for how bad you looked, so destroy this obstacle and dress to get hired.
What if the company has a relaxed dress code?
How employees of the company dress every day for the company has no bearing on how you dress for your interview. Even if the company is business casual or the new Friday casual; it is still highly suggested that you follow expected interview attire.
Do all interviews require the same attire?
There are positions that you can leave out the suit jacket for men and women, but all other suggested guidelines need to be considered. Creative positions such as advertising and design may allow for a more liberal look. You also need to consider the company; if you’re interviewing for a front desk position in hospitality, acceptable interview attire for a position with Motel 8 will differ from the Four Seasons; the same for a cashier at Wal-Mart and one with Nordstrom. Most hourly positions in the service industry you don’t need the suit jacket, but men should never wear less than dress pants/shirts with a tie and dress shoes.
Tips for Men and Women to follow
- Wear your smile, a smile projects positive energy and sets the stage for the interview.
- It’s all about the details of being neat, clean and well groomed and you want the interviewer to be paying attention to what you have to say instead of being distracted by what you’re wearing.
- Fresh breath – brush your teeth and use mouthwash, bad breath can destroy your interview – bring a breath mint or strips and take one before entering the building.
- Skip the perfume, aftershave, and cologne – you never know what scents can remind someone of someone they don’t like or some scents are overpowering for some people and the interviewer can be allergic.
- If you have a lot of piercings leave them home, one nose ring is too many, earrings only is normally a good rule.
- Cover tattoos where possible.
- We suggest getting your clothes ready the night before so on the day of the interview you don’t have to make any nervous decisions.
- All clothing needs to have wrinkles ironed out.
- Check your clothing to ensure there aren’t any stains or tears.
- Use a lint brush on your clothing.
- Ensure your clothing fits correctly nothing too big or too tight.
- If you have dandruff – brush yourself off before entering the building, dandruff on a dark suit can take away from your look.
- Carry a portfolio or briefcase – carry it in your left hand so your right hand can give or welcome a handshake.
- Items not to bring into an interview – Gum – Cell phone – iPod – any type of beverage.
How to Dress for an Interview – Men
- Matching two piece suit – color, navy or dark gray – solid or soft pinstripe – tailored fit including pants length
- Shirt – long sleeve with a collar – color, white or neutrals – soft stripes work well but no loud patterns.
- Tie required – you can add a pop of color but don’t go overboard with a wild pattern or print.
- If your job interview doesn’t require a suit, then it’s suggested you wear dark color slacks (navy, dark gray or black) with your long sleeve shirt and tie.
- Shoes – dark leather or leather looking – clean and polished.
- Socks – dark color dress socks.
- Belt – leather to match the color of your shoes.
- Fingernails – clean and neatly trimmed (manicured if possible)
- Facial hair – neatly and tightly trimmed.
- Hair – neat and professional, make sure the back of your neck is trimmed.
How to Dress for an Interview – Women
- Your overall look should be sharp but not flashy, and elegant but not overly formal.
- Suit – navy, black or dark grey.
- Skirt – should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably, just at or past the knees is appropriate, stay clear of miniskirts (it’s not advised to wear a dress for an interview).
- Coordinated tailored shirt or blouse, should have a collar. Transparent blouses are unacceptable. The color should work well with the suit (white, ivory or light blue work well) and the neckline should be towards the high side; never reveal too much skin
- If your interview is not in an office environment and you are aware it will be informal, a pantsuit with a sweater or blouse is appropriate
- Underwear – a bra is required, use natural skin color, and with a skirt, pantyhose are suggested
- Shoes – closed-toe conservative pump with a mid-level heel (2 1/2″ max), they should complement your outfit but not be the center of attention when the interviewer looks at you.
- Hairstyle – should be conservative, bangs are okay but should not cover your eyebrows. Avoid styles which excessively cover your face and avoid spiked, gelled or unnaturally colored hair. It should not be wild and messy; wearing it up sometimes can give you a more professional look.
- Makeup – be conservative, and it should match your complexion, lipstick should be neutral.
- Nails – trimmed and clean (manicured if possible), keep colors toned down.
- Wear simple jewelry, no bling; pearl earrings and a simple watch works the best
- Avoid bangles, charm bracelets, large hoop or door knocker earrings – anything that will clang or jingle is annoying for the interviewer.
- Don’t over accessorize, you can add a silk scarf to bring in color and personality.