A lot has changed in the last 20 years regarding norms on how to dress for an interview. There was a time when it was pretty much standard to dress in a suit. While a business suit has hardly disappeared, there is a growing trend towards more “casual” attire for job interviews. In this post we’ll cover some basic considerations for how to dress for an interview.
1) Know Your Audience – depending on your profession, or the type of company where you are interviewing, who you are trying to make a good impression on can dictate how to dress for an interview. For example, if you are interviewing for a legal position, it’s hard to imagine interviewing in anything but a crisp business suit. Conversely, if you are a software developer interviewing at a tech startup, anything more than a hoodie and jeans might make you look out of place. If you are working through a great recruiter (like me!), he/she will be able to give you instructions on how to dress. If you have a contact at the company, call and ask them what is appropriate. Worst case scenario, call the main number, tell the receptionist you are coming in for an interview, and ask what is considered “proper” interview attire.
2) Better to Overdress – if you still aren’t sure about how to dress for an interview, err on the side of caution. It is better to be over dressed than under dressed. By default, if you aren’t sure, wear a crisp, clean and tidy looking business suit. If you think that casual wear like jeans and button up shirt are OK, but you aren’t sure, wear pressed slacks, a button up shirt and a sport coat. There are exceptions, but generally speaking it is best to be a little over dressed than not.
3) Fashion Tips – I’m hardly a slave to fashion, but when it comes to how to dress for an interview there are some general rules to stick to. First, clean, neat and tidy is best. This means your grooming and coordination of colors/styles should be your best possible effort. Get a haircut and style it neatly. Men should be clean-shaven or neatly trimmed. Women should stick with more conservative hair styles and minimal jewelry. Second, whatever level of interview attire you are selecting, it should be clean and well matched. A suit for men and women should be fresh from the cleaners, well-tailored, and accessories should be matched. Shoes should be freshly polished. If you are wearing something less than a suit, you should make sure that the styles and colors between pants, shirt, jacket, shoes, etc. all “go together”.