Dressing for a Successful Job Interview
The way you present yourself at a job interview is a pivotal aspect that can make or break your chances of getting hired. Dressing to impress is highly valuable, and the expectations of dress for different industries and job opportunities vary.
For example, if you are a male interviewing for a job in finance, you should wear a suit and tie. For a non-supervisory retail position, chino pants and a tucked-in button-down shirt will be sufficient.
From your feet to your hair, interviewers will consider how you look when you make your first impression. It is recommended to have a neat hairstyle, though how that is defined is subjective.
A great way to figure out what to wear is to look online and see how people dress at the organization you are interviewing with. Sports coats and ties are standard for interviews, but no longer the standard dress code for many workplaces. See that your colors of pants, belt, shirt, tie, and coat go together.
“Non-professional” jobs, which often relate to entry-level retail or industrial jobs, usually do not have the same dress expectations as “corporate” jobs. You should still wear nice pants, a tucked-in button-down shirt with a belt, and nice shoes, but a tie and sports coat are likely unnecessary.
Some workplaces prefer women to wear clothes such as dresses, while others prefer women to wear suits. A light fragrance is beneficial.
For an interview, it is recommended for women to wear a suit with a blouse and either pants or a long skirt. It is also recommended to wear a light amount of makeup. Jewelry is not a requirement, but if you choose to wear jewelry, make sure that it matches your outfit.
Dress to impress! If you are not sure of the organization’s standards or expectations, it is always safer to overdress than to underdress.
Hair and Tattoos
Employers cannot discriminate against employees or candidates based on how they look, but it unfortunately still occurs. In recent years, numerous employers have gotten into legal trouble over rejecting candidates who have certain hairstyles or firing employees who do because such natural hairstyles are not in accord with their dress code. The same thing has happened with beards, which is part of some people’s religious observances.
Though many organizations are becoming more inclusive and non-judgmental, you may want to wear clothes that cover tattoos, if possible.
Regardless of what you choose to wear, ensure that your clothes look and smell clean and are wrinkle and lint-free. Consider combing your hair or trimming your beard based on your hairstyle. Make sure to shower the day of your interview and apply deodorant. Depending on the workplace, perfume or cologne may be beneficial, but make sure you don’t put off an overpowering scent.
Different colors have cultural associations to keep in mind. Just as pink is associated with girls and light blue with boys, colors have associations in the workplace. Blue signifies trust, orange represents creativity, and red can be associated with passion, romantic attraction, and even aggression. Dark blue is the most recommended color to wear for a job interview. If you pay attention to politicians’ outfits, you will notice that many of them wear blue more than any other color.
Solid colored clothing is recommended rather than patterns such as plaid, though subtle patterns can look good. Also, more neutral colors such as gray, white, brown, and navy blue put out a more calm vibe. It can be beneficial, especially for women, to have a splash of bright color somewhere on your outfit. If you wear black, make sure your entire outfit is not black.
Prepare Your Outfit in Advance
Select your outfit at least the day before the interview. Make sure to try it on to see how it looks and fits. Getting a second opinion can help. If you do well in an interview, you may be asked to come in for a second interview, so be sure to have a second, separate outfit.
Dress clothes can be expensive, but there are many bargain clothing stores and even thrift stores where you can find professional clothing at low prices. There are even nonprofits that help people find employment who give out professional clothing for free. For example, Dress for Success gives two free outfits to women who come for assistance if they get invited to a job interview.
What Else to Bring (or not Bring)
It is highly recommended not to bring food, a drink, or gum to a job interview. Many employers offer water to candidates at the start of an interview. If you eat or drink before an interview, be careful not to spill on your clothes, make sure to clean your teeth afterward, and consume a breath mint before arriving.
Resume and Cover Letter
Bring multiple paper copies of your resume and cover letter to an interview. Business notebooks often go for over fifty dollars. Still, a simple solid black or dark blue binder or folder will be sufficient for most jobs. If they refuse to hire you because you brought a binder instead of a business notebook, they may not be the greatest place to work. If you want to show examples of your best work to the interviewer, bringing printed copies or digital ones on a tablet can be a great way to impress.
Make a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer and bring a notebook with a pen or pencil to write down any important information. When interviewers are finished with their questions and ask you if you have questions for them, saying you don’t have any will not be a good look. Tailor your questions to not only ask about the position but also ask about the interviewer and their experience working for the organization. People love to feel appreciated. In addition, sometimes you will be interviewed by multiple people. In this case, make sure to provide equal attention and eye-contact to each person.
Last but not least, plan to arrive at least fifteen minutes early. Traffic or other unforeseen circumstances could lengthen your travel time, and being late to an interview will severely damage your chances of receiving a job offer.