Do you know that most people develop a lasting impression of you and what you’re like based on the first few seconds of meeting you? That’s way before you’ve said anything important…you’ve barely said “hello.” Some of that impression is based off your body language and handshake, true, but the rest is based off how you look—what you’re wearing.
Your interviewer is even more focused on you than most people. They’re really looking for clues to base their hiring decision on. So, when you really want that job, it’s important to keep ‘professional’ at the top of your mind when dressing for the interview. A good rule of thumb is to dress one step above what you would be expected to wear on the job. In other words, dress for success.
For men, this means wearing a full suit rather than coordinates. A full suit shows respect and attention to detail. The suit should be dark in color over a white shirt. The tie should be conservative. At the first meeting, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Besides color, women need to also consider whether a skirt suit or a pants suit is more appropriate. While most hiring managers prefer women in a skirt suit, they tend not to penalize women for wearing a pants suit. It’s important for both men and women to remember that the suit should be professional and comfortable.
Comfortable, in this case, is not synonymous with “comfy” which implies sloppy. Since what you wear reflects your attitude, “comfy” clothing will reflect a relaxed attitude that could hurt your chance of getting the job. What comfortable should mean: clothes that fit; that allow you to move easily and not feel restricted. You do not want to adjust your clothing during an interview.
Your interview outfit doesn’t end with the suit. Coordinating shoes are also important. Women should wear low heels with closed toes and sensible hose and men should wear clean, black leather shoes with black socks. Never wear tennis, or sports shoes. Hiring managers also notice if your shoes are clean and well-cared for.
As for accessories, you want to keep your look conservative: men- a muted tie is a ‘must’ and a watch is appropriate, but remove earrings and facial piercings. If you are emotionally attached to your beard, keep it closely trimmed and neat. If, however, you have had several interviews but haven’t been offered a job, you might want to consider a clean-shaven look and see if that makes a difference.
Women, be sure your jewelry is not too flashy: earring posts or simple hoop earrings are fine, but be careful of other facial piercings that could be distracting and get in the way of landing the job. Speaking of distractions…absolutely NEVER show any cleavage.
When deciding on what to wear to your interview, remember to leave off wearing cologne or perfume. “Clean” is the only smell that should emanate from you during an interview.
Being ultra-prepared (good resume, 30-60-90-day plan and brag book) and appropriately dressed for the interview means the hiring manager can concentrate on your skills and abilities, and you’ll have an excellent chance of landing that DREAM position. Your appearance says it all.