Different organizations vary greatly in their employee dress codes. Some require a suit for men, others require panty hose for women, and some are ok with a t-shirt and flip-flops. So when preparing for a job interview, how do you know what to wear?
The best answer is to ask the hiring manager, HR person, recruiter, or whoever invites you to interview, what the appropriate dress is for their company. If for some reason this is not an option, try looking on the company website for cues as to how the employees dress. When in doubt, it is better to overdress than underdress. Before you even open your mouth, an impression has already begun to form in the employer’s mind based on your appearance, and first impressions stick! A bad choice of clothing, makeup, or hairstyle could distract the employer from your qualifications or make him not take you seriously.
Here are a few tips on how to dress for success:
- Do not dress too casual. Even if the average employee dresses down, avoid shorts, jeans, sneakers, flip-flops, hats, or clothes with text or big logos on them.
- Look clean. Avoid wearing anything stained, tattered, wrinkled, or covered in your pet’s fur.
- Dressing professional helps you act professional.
- Make sure you feel comfortable in your outfit. Don’t wear something itchy, hot, or awkward that would distract you or prevent you from feeling at ease. Don’t wear an outfit that does not fit you, especially if means you’ll need to constantly pull it down or adjust it.
- Avoid perfume and cologne. Your interviewer may be allergic or sensitive to smells. Even if they aren’t, strong scents can be a distraction.
- Stick to dark or neutral solid colors such as black, brown, gray, navy, and white. You can add a pop of pale color in a scarf or tie, but avoid busy patterns and bright and distracting colors that seem too authoritative. That being said, if you are applying for a managerial type position, a pop of one bright color, such as a red tie, might be effective. However, limit it to one.
- Women, look nice but be conservative with the makeup and jewelry. Avoid earrings that will jangle and make noise. Avoid excessively high heels, excessive makeup, and revealing clothing.
- Nails should be tidy. For women who do their nails, a French manicure is classy.
- Women’s hair: you can wear your hair down or in a neat up-do, but keep it out of your face and avoid touching it or playing with it during the interview.
- Men’s hair: keep it neat. Avoid spikes and extreme hairstyles.
Companies often prefer “business casual” dress. What exactly does that mean? For men, business casual means dress slacks, a collared shirt (but avoid polos), dark socks, and dress shoes. A tie is optional. For women, business casual could be a skirt or dress pants, a blouse and/or sweater, possibly a jacket, and hose with closed-toed shoes.
If you show up for an interview overdressed, take off your suit jacket after the introduction, or discreetly roll up your sleeves to show a more casual look. If you show up underdressed, try to compensate by being more formal in your manner of speaking and presenting yourself.
In short, look professional, dress comfortably, and avoid wearing anything distracting. Good luck!
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