Updated: Nov 21, 2019
We are frequently asked by candidates 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! Of course, “best practice attire” for both interviews and work differs significantly depending on location, industry and position.
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, athletic 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!