What should I wear to an interview?
By Patrick Ropella. Posted 01/06/2012
How you dress for a job interview will reveal a whole lot of things about you - possibly even much more than you intend. In fact, your appearance will play a large part in whether you get the job or not. While clothing styles have changed considerably in society, they definitely remain largely unchanged in the business world. Being dressed right for an interview is something that will certainly be expected of you and should not be taken lightly - at least if you are serious about getting the job.
Dressing Right Is All about Image
Creating the right image from the very first impression you give to your interviewer is one way to show that you are top quality - even before you utter a word. Kim Zoller at Image Dynamics says that as much as 55% of what another person thinks of you is based on your appearance.
John Molloy recognized this concept years ago when he wrote his famous book that started the concept, “Dress for Success.” Often called “Power Dressing” now, most businesses today realize that people can dress their way to success.
“Power Dressing” is especially important in a business field where everyone is expected to look sharp because there is regular contact with the public. An interviewer will definitely be looking you over from top to bottom during the process, and will see anything that is not quite right. Even something like how well polished your shoes are will be noted, and a lack of shine could prevent you from getting the job. Many interviewers consider well-shined shoes an indication that an individual pays close attention to detail – and you can be sure that they will be looking for this quality in the interview. Some may even make their decision to hire (or ignore) you based only on your shoes.
Going improperly dressed for an interview is one way to make an image that will be hard to erase later - even if you do get hired. The best way to be prepared is to make sure you follow the guidelines that the company expects of its employees at the level you are applying for - and then dress at least one level higher (two may be better) for the interview. You can check out clothing standards simply by visiting the company you’re going to be interviewing with in the morning when people are coming in to work and see how they are dressed. You can do this on any day but Friday, when companies may be more lax in their standards.
Sharp Dressers Show They Understand Business
Companies - the same as at any time in history - are looking for sharp individuals who realize that their purpose at work is to help build and promote the company and its image. Going to an interview dressed sharply conveys the idea that you are serious about working for them. Some companies have implemented written dress codes today because they feel that, unfortunately, some professionals have never been taught how to dress for success in business. Dressing sharply will tell the employers that you are interviewing with that you understand the needs and demands of business, and that you are ready to work for them.
Taking the time to dress sharply will also help you to be more confident during the interview process. This strong level of confidence will be seen by the interviewer and perceived as a strong point in your favor. They will know that you take pride in yourself and in your work.
Clothing Tips to Ensure You Present Your Best Image
Dressing for success is a necessary key to winning the job - at least in jobs requiring business attire. Here are some tips to enable you to be prepared to give a winning impression during your interview.
For Men and Women
Business colors are standard - solid navy blue, gray, or black. Conservative business suits need to be worn. To be absolutely clear, we are not talking about suits you buy at the Gap or American Eagle, and definitely not high fashion sweat suits. Instead, the goal is to get business suits like those sold at business clothing stores or at the large and better department stores. White shirts or blouses are considered best, but blue is also acceptable. Clothes should be clean and well pressed. Jewelry and scents need to be limited. Shoes should be moderate, black or brown. Hair should look professional and neat. Tattoos should be completely covered. Watches should look professional.
Skirts are much more likely to be accepted than pantsuits, or dresses. Nails should be manicured, with clear or no polish. Make-up should be kept to a minimum. Briefcases are allowable and preferred to purses. Hosiery should be tan or light colored. Ties are optional. One earring per ear is OK, along with one ring per hand. Avoid faux jewelry, and high heels. A great place to shop for woman’s business clothes is on line at Jones of NY (www.JNY.com).
Shirts should be long sleeve. Make sure your shirt fits around the neck - not too tight and not to loose either. The fit of your shirt dramatically effects how comfortable you look and feel. Select your tie with a conservative pattern - no outrageous patterns, colors, sports logo’s or hobby ties. . The Four-in-Hand knot is the all time classic of tie knots (you can see it at: www.tieknot.com/en/four-in-hand.html). Your tie should end in front of your belt buckle.
Socks should be dark. Limited jewelry, no earrings, or body jewelry; one ring per hand, and your watchband should not be fabric. Nails need to be trimmed neatly, and clean. A close shave gives a sharper appearance. A briefcase or portfolio may be carried.
A great place to shop for men’s business clothes is on line at Hart Schaffner Marx (www.hartschaffnermarx.com).
Besides your appearance, remember that everything about you is telling others about you. This includes your body language, too. Be sure to stand straight, greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and look them in the eye as you talk. How well you listen, sit, and respond to questions is all part of the interview process, too. Being on time is very important, no smoking right before or during the interviews, and don’t forget to remove the gum.
Taking a little extra time to ensure you are dressed sharp for your job interview will also help the interviewer to want to talk to you, too. If they like what they see – it may not take much more to persuade them that you are the right person for the job.
Other links for Business Apparel and Accessories:
- Paul Fredrick’s for Men’s clothes, scarves, ties etc…
- Cole Haan Shoes - for men’s and women’s shoes and accessories
- Leather goods (McKinley Leather or Leather Tree)
- Pens (Cross.com)