Picking what to wear to a job interview is a highly debated topic, but I’ll do my best to give you some tips and guidelines that will help you make the right decision.
To start, your first clue is going to be the company “dress code.” If you know how current employees dress, you should be dressed at least one step above that. This is going to vary widely between industries. But really, for almost any interview, just go with a suit.
If you just hate wearing a suit (why would you? Suits are awesome…) then here’s my advice: In a creative studio, the employees might be wearing jeans and a t-shirt. You should wear a dress shirt and possibly a tie. In a traditional office setting where employees wear dress shirts and sometimes ties, you should wear a suit and most likely a tie. If you’re interviewing at a company where everyone wears suits to work, you most definitely need to wear a suit and tie.
But like I said, wearing a full suit and tie is your safest bet. This is going to be the most common interview attire and your go-to if you don’t have any clues. It’s almost always better to be over then under dressed.
The remainder of this post will mostly assume that you’re wearing a suit to your interview.
When dressing for an interview, there are really two camps you can be in. The first is to be very conservative. If this is your choice, your mindset is you want your resumé to do the talking and that’s all. This choice is almost never going to hurt you, and it looks like this:
- Solid charcoal or navy suit
- White or light blue shirt
- Solid or striped silk tie
- Black or possibly brown shoes and belt
- Socks that match your pants
- No accessories (tie bar, pocket square, ect)
Your other option is to add a little bit of personality to your clothes, because after all, your clothes are a part of who you are. That is to say, this is not the time to wear your fashion forward clothing, but you’re not going to blend in with all the other candidates either. Here is what that might look like, but only choose one or two of the extras:
- Still a solid charcoal or navy suit
- Possibly patterned shirt (gingham or striped)
- Possibly a wool tie
- Brown shoes
- Tie bar
- Maybe pocket square if everything else is subdued
But I want to stress this again, do not over do it! I personally go for a tie bar. I just don’t think a suit looks right without one. But if I’m doing that, I’m not wearing a patterned shirt and crazy tie. It’s just too much.
You’re there to get a job based on your credentials, not put on a fashion show. You can do that after you get the job. I wear a couple of accessories because I’m not that buttoned up conservative looking suit. I wear pocket squares and wool knit ties on a daily basis, but I know when to leave the extras at home. When in doubt, ask yourself, “Could this hurt my chances?” and if the answer is yes, leave it out.
Last, carry a padfolio with the appropriate documents in it (multiple copies of your resume, examples of your work, paper for notes, a list of things your want to make sure you ask, ect).
“According to Kim Zoller at Image Dynamics, 55% of another person’s perception of you is based on how you look.” – Alison Doyle