Job Interview — What to Wear and What Not to Wear in 2016

We’ve been asked quite a few times recently what the appropriate attire is for a job interview. The “anything goes” fashion rule that applies in some workplaces does not apply for most job interviews!

While suits and ties are no longer expected, conservative dress is still our recommendation. There is never a second chance to make a first impression!  The outfit you select to wear for a job interview is a big part of that first impression so don’t miss the opportunity to make a positive impression.

Prior to an interview, research the company you want to work for. By looking at employees’ photos on the company website, you can often see what dress is appropriate.  If you know employees at the company, ask them about the dress code.  If you are working with a staffing company, ask the Staffing Manager or Consultant who is sending you on the interview what they would recommend you wear.

Our basic guidelines are:

  • Wear a conservative outfit. Be sure the outfit fits—too tight or too short outfits are not a good choice. For women, pants and a conservative blouse are always a safe choice. Suits and dresses (preferably with sleeves) are also appropriate choices. For men, slacks and a dress shirt with or without a tie are safe choices. For most jobs, slacks and sometimes jeans and a polo shirt are appropriate. Tee-shirts with or without messages are not recommended.
  • Wear conservative shoes. For women, either flats or heels are appropriate. For men, casual shoes are fine and in many cases, sports shoes are fine. Flip-flops are not a good choice for anyone!
  • Avoid perfume, cologne and fragrant after-shave lotion. Many people are sensitive to fragrances and a sneezing interviewer does not make for a positive interview.
  • Jewelry and scarves are appropriate and can add a professional touch.
  • Visible tattoos and piercings are sometimes a negative so know the company culture.
  • Unique hair colors and styles may also make a negative impression so, if practical, a conservative color and style is recommended.

Some may feel that it is not fair to be judged by what you wear or how you look. That may be true, but the reality is that you are judged by the first impression you make.  Employers want employees they will be proud to have represent them.  Following these recommendations will help you be the one selected because you will make a positive first impression.  And, don’t forget, to use a firm handshake!

Julia Aguilar


Fond Farewell to Katy

The experiment worked! A year ago, we decided to add an entry level HR position to our recruiting team. We contacted Cal Poly for applications and hired Katy, a rising senior at the time. Our goal was to help prepare Katy for a career in HR whether with us or with another company.

Katy’s aptitude, skills and attitude were superb from the beginning. She quickly became adept at job postings, resume evaluations and phone screens. As the year went by, she learned to help administer employee benefits and worker’s compensation requirements. Her Senior Project was to update our Procedures Manual for the HR Coordinator position. Of course, she received an “A” from her professor and from us!

About six months ago, she and her fiancé made the decision to move to Montana after she graduated from Cal Poly. They did everything right—researched the area, arranged temporary living quarters, and secured jobs. Katy will receive her B.S. in Business Administration with concentrations in Human Resources and Management this weekend. She and Colby leave for Montana on Tuesday. We wish them great happiness and success in Montana. We also want to thank Katy for making our experiment work!

Julia Aguilar