Congrats! You’ve scored an interview for your dream job. You’re excited and confident that you have all the skills and experience necessary to knock it out of the park. For days now, you’ve been practicing interview questions, and you know you’re going to nail it. But what should you wear? Obviously, it’s critical that you make a great first impression, and your appearance is a big part of that. You want everyone you meet on the big day to see that you’ll fit perfectly into the company culture. Read on for some advice about how to dress the part so you impress your interviewer and land the job.
Know the dress code for the industry and role
It goes without saying that people dress differently depending on the industry they work in and what type of role they have. Lawyers in big firms, for example, tend to dress more formally than, say, construction workers or junior data analysts. A restaurant hostess, meanwhile, would probably choose to wear a very different outfit to work than an elementary school teacher.
So before your interview, research the industry you hope to join and what people who work in it typically wear. Also, keep in mind that senior-level executives usually dress more formally (think suit and tie or blouse and skirt) than those who are lower on the food chain. Do your due diligence beforehand and use all the information you gather to help you decide what to wear.
Wear modern styles to avoid looking outdated
Don’t pull out the same outfit you wore 10 years ago and throw it on for your upcoming interview. The last thing you want to do is appear old-fashioned. While there’s absolutely no need to chase fads (in fact, choosing a classic style is a great idea), you’ll definitely want to show that you’re in touch with modern trends and current events. After all, the interviewer wants to hire someone who is up on the latest tools and technologies. If your clothing doesn’t reflect modern times, they’ll assume your skillset and knowledge don’t either.
On the flip side, be careful not to dress too casually or trendy either. You want to appear professional, even if you’ve only recently graduated college. Avoid nose rings, flip-flops, short shorts, and clubwear.
Pay close attention to the climate and season
You’re bound to feel some nervousness during your interview – this is completely normal! But don’t make the situation worse by wearing clothes that will make you hot so you visibly sweat. Think about the weather as you plan what you’re going to wear. If it’s wintertime in Maine, for example, consider dressing in layers (like a sweater over your dress shirt). If it’s summertime in Florida, wear clothes that are thin and breathable. Your clothing choice should further seal the deal with the interviewer, not make the interview harder or more uncomfortable for you.
Remember that comfort is key
Arguably the most important tip of all, don’t forget to dress comfortably. If you don’t usually wear high heels, for instance, choose flats instead so you don’t end up wobbling around self-consciously. Similarly, if you buy new shoes for the occasion, make sure to break them in beforehand so you don’t have to worry about sore feet during the interview. Finally, don’t wear a suit or clothing that is ill-fitting. Pick an outfit that fits well and feels comfortable so your clothes are the least of your worries.
Examples of exactly what to wear
Now that you know how important it is to research the industry dress code in advance, be modern but not too fresh or casual, take the weather into consideration, and dress comfortably, let’s run through some examples of common interview attire for men and women. See below:
Men – Corporate Role
Avoid jewelry and heavy aftershave. Be sure your hair is combed neatly and fingernails are cut and consider carrying a briefcase or portfolio.
Women – Corporate Role
The jury is out on pantyhose versus bare legs, so choose what you feel is most appropriate. Wear minimal jewelry (nothing flashy) and light perfume. Style your hair nicely and make sure your nails are manicured. Carry a briefcase or portfolio and a professional-looking purse (again, not too flashy).
If the job you’re interviewing for is in a more casual environment, consider wearing business casual (not a suit, but not jeans either – black pants or khakis).
When in doubt, aim for an interview outfit that’s professional, polished, and a good fit for the company culture. Always err on the side of being more formal rather than too casual and stick with neutrals over bright colors. And don’t stress too much! As long as the interviewer sees that you put in the effort to look presentable and pleasing, you’re bound to make a great impression. Good luck!