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What to Wear: Job Interview

We all know that job searching is brutal these days, and you’ve been sending resume after resume into a black hole of indifferent hiring managers’ circular inboxes. Then, one day, you get a call … with somebody who’s wanting to pre-screen you for an actual interview … you do great and get that appointment to actually come in and meet with somebody … and you suddenly realize that, unlike the rest of the job search process, this probably shouldn’t be done in shorts and a t-shirt … what are you going to wear?

Of course, a lot depends on the job. If you’ve had to go “emergency” and settle for a barista gig at the coffee shop or floor help at the big hardware store just to get benefits, you’ll not be looking at a particularly formal outfit … and there’s a wide spectrum of styles out there expected at companies ranging from very image. If the role you’re interviewing for tends towards business casual, it might be OK to go with a less-formal suit, if you’re looking to join a creative team that’s big into beachwear, it might be OK to go with business casual, but you’ll want to target being a bit more formal than is necessary for the day-to-day, and never less so.casual tech start-ups to mega-suit law and accounting firms.

If you have time (i.e. the phone call wasn’t “can you come in for an interview tomorrow?”), one of the best suggestions out there is to do some research reconnaissance, and swing by the office location (if practical) to eyeball what sort of outfits are going in and out of the building … grab a cup of coffee across the street and watch for a while, and work on figuring out what you have in your closet that would fit in with that crowd (oh, and avoid doing this on Fridays – you don’t want to have your research skewed by possible “casual Friday” relaxation of dress codes!).

Lacking this, take a look at the available material from the company on the web … preferably shots of the actual staff/management (you don’t want to show up looking like you’d just walked out of a stock photo set). This can sometimes be remarkably revealing about what’s “in or out” at a particular company.

While conventional wisdom has it that you should “dress for the job you want – not the job you are applying for”, have some sense of what is expected for the role they’re looking to fill. Coming in over-dressed (a power suit if you’re interviewing for web coding), can be as much of a negative as coming in under-dressed (business casual for a brand manager gig). It’s yet another cruel reality in the job search sphere (already awash in soul-crushing harshness), but most hiring managers work off of “first impressions” and if what walks in the door (you) doesn’t fit the mental image they had for what they were looking to hire that morning, you’re somewhere between a steep uphill climb and seriously out of luck for getting the gig.

So, the best bet for having the best chance in an interview is to research what people in that position tend to wear to work and figure out a way to be “the best representation” of that particular

Again, as you’re going up against the unstated expectations of the hiring manager, doing the little details that you probably wouldn’t for a standard work day is a great way of putting positive cues in
place. Polish the shoes. Make sure the slacks are pressed. Have accessories that are currently fashionable (remarkably, tie width is sometimes noted by interviewers!), and appropriate for work.

Oh, and remember to BREATHE. Interviews are stressful enough, you want to hit that handshake with calm, focus, and confidence.

What Dress Codes to Wear:

Contemporary Business Casual

Business Casual

Smart Casual

What Not to Wear to a Job Interview:

Anything Showing Too Much Skin

No Short Skirts or Dresses

No Cleavage

No Sneakers

No T-Shirts or Anything Too Low Key

No Jeans

 

 

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