Dressing for a Job Interview

How you present yourself during a job interview matters. The way you dress and the accessories you wear will most definitely influence the decision on whether or not you will receive a job offer. Most people form a lasting opinion about you within the first five minutes of meeting you. They will initially take into consideration your personality, how you look, and what you are wearing. You have control of all three of these factors – so make a great first impression by acting your best, looking your best and wearing your best.

What NOT to Wear to an Interview

It is completely acceptable to wear an outfit to a job interview that is appropriate for the industry. For example, a three-piece suit does not necessarily have to be worn to a job interview for a construction job. However, it is essential to follow some simple dressing guidelines for any job, no matter what the industry.

  • Do not wear clothes that are too tight.

  • Do not wear clothes that are inappropriate or revealing.

  • If your pants are too big, wear a belt.

  • Do not wear a baseball cap.

  • Do not wear flip flops.

The Outfit Really Does Make a Difference

When you show up to a job interview looking sloppy, it’s a direct reflection on how much you care about your potential employment opportunity. When you do not put in the effort to look nice for an interview, potential employers will wonder about your work ethic. A rule of thumb is to dress one or two notches above what typical employees of the company where you are interviewing would wear to work on a daily basis. You want to look professional and dressed up for the occasion, but you also do not want to be over dressed and look completely out of place.

If it’s Between You and Someone Else – Will the Better Dressed Person Win?

Let’s say there are two very strong candidates for an office job. Both are equal in every regard with regard to their qualifications, experience, skills and education. They both attend an interview with the same hiring managers, and both respond to the same exact questions with very similar answers. The only noticeable difference between the two is in how they are dressed. One is wearing a shirt, tie, nice slacks, and polished shoes. The other is wearing a button-down shirt that is un-tucked and not buttoned all the way down, jeans, and flip flops. Can you guess who will receive the job offer? Chances are, the individual who is dressed more conservatively and neatly will end up with the job offer.

What to do if you Don’t Feel Comfortable in Formal Interview Clothes?

If you do not feel comfortable wearing a suit and are dreading having to put it on, you might just want to wear it anyway. Dressing nicely and appropriately for an interview shows a certain level of respect for those interviewing you, and it conveys the message that you really want the job. Most jobs do not require workers to wear a suit every day, but some do. If you are applying for a job that will require you to wear a suit for the duration of the interview, but you know you will be able to dress down a bit for the job on a daily basis, it’s better to be a little bit uncomfortable during the interview than to miss out on receiving a job offer.

There is No Need to Spend Hundreds of Dollars on an Interview Outfit

For most job interviews you will simply have to look clean, neat, and well-put together. There is almost never a situation that will require you to spend a large amount of money on an outfit for an interview. However, if you believe that you will be attending several interviews and you do not have an outfit that provides you with the necessary confidence, it is a good idea to invest in something that will represent you well during your interviews. There are many stores that sell suits and other interview-type clothing at reasonable prices.  Also read "Aceing Your Job Interview" for additional tips to help land that job.

Other Tips

Besides your outfit, there are several other ways to ensure you are representing yourself in the best possible light. 

  • Make sure your hair is clean and brushed.

  • Do not wear perfume or cologne to your interview. Many people are allergic to the smell or find it offensive.

  • Do not wear excessive or noisy jewelry.

  • Wear deodorant.

  • Make sure you brushed your teeth and used mouthwash.

  • Do not chew gum or suck on candy either during your interview or while you are waiting to be called into an interview.

Choose an Appropriate Outfit

Regardless of whether you wear a suit or other type of professional outfit for a job interview, it’s is extremely important to wear toned-down colors, clothing items that are clean and unwrinkled, and pieces that match each other. Also, shirts with large logos, slogans, or “sayings” printed on the front can be offensive to others. Your clothes will play an important role in the initial opinion your interviewers form about you. Take some time to pick the best possible outfit for your interview and your will be sure to score some initial points with your interviewers!

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Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.