dress for success: job interview style tips

It is not always clear what to wear to a job interview. Depending on the type of job you are interviewing for, there might be very different expectations in place for what you should come dressed in. Your job interview outfit may be dictated by the field in which your potential employer operates in, or by guidelines that they have set out ahead of time.

In many instances however, little-if-any information is provided in advanced as to what your job interview outfit should be, and there is an implicit expectation that you will know what to wear. “Underdressing,” or wearing clothes that are too casual for the work environment, is a common concern, but wearing a tailored suit when you don’t have to can also be a cause of concern. Make the right impression with your interview by wearing the right clothes, and dress for success.

dress for success job interview style tips

know your employer and industry

Above everything else, know what your employer is like and what industry they operate in. Your job interview outfit should reflect the type of work you’re interviewing for. If applying for an office position, a suit and tie is a good idea. If you are interviewing for a position in industry, retail or service, it is still highly recommend that you retain some formality in your job interview outfit. Even with jobs that will require you to literally “get your hands dirty,” wearing your coveralls and work boots to the interview will probably give off a negative impression.

avoid underdressing for business casual

Many offices operate with a “business casual” dress code, and specific guidelines can vary heavily from company to company. If you are interviewing with a company that you have been told has a business casual dress code, your job interview outfit should err on the side of “business” rather than “casual.” Avoid graphic t-shirts, jeans, sneakers, and the like. In warmer weather, the temptation to wear polo shirts and shorts may arise, but these should be avoided. With business-casual interviews, stick with a button-up shirt, dress pants, and dress shoes.  If you insist on wearing a t-shirt, ensure that there are no graphics or patterns on it, and that you are wearing a sweater overtop of it.

if unsure, don’t be afraid to ask

Ultimately if the company you are interviewing with has not provided any guidelines for how you should dress, and it isn’t immediately obvious what you should wear, consider asking them what their expectations are. Doing so will get you the answer you need, in addition to demonstrating a degree of respect and interest in the company. If it is not immediately clear what to wear to a job interview, asking ahead of time for clarification is a good way to get the answer you need.

dress simply

It may be tempting to wear the most flamboyant or distinctive clothing that you have in order to make a lasting impression. Put simply, this is an ill-advised tactic, and you’re better off aiming to be remembered for the good impression that you left, rather than the garish clothes that you wore. Wearing darker shades instead of brighter hues is a good idea; blacks, whites, greys, navy blues and similar colors tend to go well together. Furthermore, make sure that your clothes fit you. Wearing flattering fitting clothes that are neither too loose nor too tight is ideal. Sometimes the key to dressing for success is keeping your outfit as simple as possible.

In closing, dressing for a job interview should not be a cause of major stress. Researching or checking in with your employer to see what their dress expectations are, making a button-down shirt and dress pants your “minimum,” and otherwise keeping your outfit simple and with muted colors are all good ways to ensure that your outfit will meet, if not, exceed expectations. Hopefully, this will help you stop stressing over your job interview outfit, and focus more on preparing for the interview itself. 

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