Job Interview Dress

How to Dress for a Job Interview

You can only make a first impression once. Before you even say “hello”, the interviewer is going to see you and come to a number of conclusions about your candidacy. If you come improperly dressed to a job interview, you may lose your chances of getting the position even before the first question has been asked.

Minimize Risk

When you dress for a job interview, your attire should always be professional. There will be some work environments that allow for casual dress, and your interviewer may come up to you in ripped jeans and a t-shirt, but you should still be nicely dressed. The cleaner and more presentable you are, the better your first impression will be.

How to Dress – Women

Female attire for a job interview should be a combination of attractive and conservative. It is a good idea not to wear a skirt that is too short or a blouse that is too tight, but dressing in form fitting clothing is still acceptable. The best female attire has the following:

  • Suit Jacket – No bright colors. It is best to stick with dark blue, black or gray.
  • Blouse – Should be a color that matches the suit jacket.
  • Pants or Skirt – If skirt, choose a skirt that is short enough so you can sit easily, but long enough to not be too revealing.
  • Conservative Heels/Boots  – Shoes with heels are good for posture and height, but make sure they are conservative and professional.
  • Pantyhose

How to Dress – Men

Men’s dress code for job interviews is similar to women’s. For most office jobs, it is a good idea to dress in a suit and slacks with a tie and no gaudy apparel (i.e. no sunglasses or large earrings).

  • Suit – Black, Navy or Gray.
  • Slacks of same color.
  • Business Shoes (Clean).
  • Tie – Coordinate color or power tie.
  • Long Sleeve Button Shirt – Usually white. Color coordinated (but not flashy) is acceptable.

Tips for All Applicants

In addition to the above dress code, you should also have an appropriate, professional hairstyle (no hats, no spikes or unusual hairdos). You should also wear minimal jewelry, and the jewelry you do wear should be attractive, and not distracting.

Suit or No Suit – a Debate

Work environments have changed a lot in the past decade. Tech jobs have changed the standard acceptable workplace dress code, and it is more common to see jobs that have no dress code standard at all. If you always dress in a suit, you may show up to an interview vastly overdressed for the position, and some human resource managers suggest that you should skip the suit and simply dress one step above the dress code of the office. So if the workplace dresses in a shirt and jeans, you should dress in a button down and slacks but skip the suit.

It is difficult to know what the office dress code is before you have had a chance to interview with the company. That is why the best advice is to do the following:

  • If you know the office has a casual dress code, it is okay to skip the suit jacket, but it is still a good idea to show up in a nice shirt, tie and slacks. Exclude the tie if you are 100% confident that by dressing down you will be “dressing the part.”
  • If you are applying for management jobs, jobs in sales, or any traditional (not technology related) positions, wearing a suit is still safer.
  • If you show up for an interview and find that you are overdressed, a good rule of thumb is to take off the suit jacket after the introduction.   Ask the interviewer if they have a place you can hang your jacket until the end of the interview. This makes it sound as though you wore the jacket to keep warm, rather than to make a good first impression. Alternatively, you can take off your jacket and hold it over your arm until you sit down, and then place it on your chair.

It is easier to slowly dress down than dress up. If you find that you are still overdressed in a nice shirt and tie, you can slowly start rolling up your sleeves and do other actions that create a more casual look, improving your casual appearance throughout the interview.

Making Your First Impression Count

To represent yourself a model employee, it is important to dress well for the interview. Everything you wear should be clean, wrinkle free, cut for your body type and designed to give you a handsome and professional appearance. Though there may be times where you will need to dress in something slightly more casual than a suit and tie, you should still make sure that whatever you wear is clean, professional, and helps improve your chances of making an acceptable first impression.