The first impression you make on a potential employer is the most important one. The first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. That’s why it’s always important to dress professionally for a job interview, even if the work environment is casual.
You’ll want that first impression to be not just a good one, but, a great one. The candidate dressed in a suit and tie is going to make a much better impression than the candidate dressed in scruffy jeans and a t-shirt.
Men’s Interview Attire
- Suit (solid color – navy or dark grey)
- Long sleeve shirt (white or coordinated with the suit)
- Dark socks, conservative leather shoes
- Little or no jewelry
- Neat, professional hairstyle
- Limit the aftershave
- Neatly trimmed nails
- Portfolio or briefcase
Women’s Interview Attire
- Suit (navy, black or dark grey)
- The suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably
- Coordinated blouse
- Conservative shoes
- Limited jewelry (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets)
- No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry
- Professional hairstyle
- Neutral pantyhose
- Light make-up and perfume
- Neatly manicured clean nails
- Portfolio or briefcase
What Not to Bring to the Interview
- Cell phone
- Coffee or soda
- If you have lots of piercings, leave some of your rings at home (earrings only, is a good rule)
- Cover tattoos
Interview Attire Tips
- Before you even think about going on an interview, make sure you have appropriate interview attire and everything fits correctly.
- Get your clothes ready the night before, so you don’t have to spend time getting them ready on the day of the interview.
- If your clothes are dry clean only, take them to the cleaners after an interview, so they are ready for next time.
- Polish your shoes.
- Bring a breath mint and use it before you enter the building.
How to Tie a Tie:
Studies have shown that most interviewers make their decision to hire a candidate within the first two seconds, even before the first question is asked. Given this knowledge, it is crucial that you make a successful first impression. Taking steps to make an impression that projects professionalism, ability, and capability will optimize your chances for success. Prominent nonverbal communications researcher Frank Bernieri believes strongly in “being well dressed and nicely groomed” and says, “You wouldn’t believe the impact of attire on the first impression.”
To get a handle on how to properly dress for a job interview, let’s focus on mastering the professional look of the suit and tie. The key to achieving this professional look is to assemble an outfit that is tasteful, coordinated, and composed appropriately.
The Pratt Knot is a medium-sized, symmetrical knot appropriate for most shirt collars and should be in everyone’s repertoire. Here is how to tie a Pratt Knot.
1. Place the tie around your neck with the inside of your tie, the side with the label, facing OUTWARD, i.e. backward. Place it so the wide end in your right hand and the narrow end in your left hand.
2. Cross wide end under the narrow end and end on the left side.
3. Continue by bring the wide end of the tie up over the narrow end and down through the loop around your neck, remaining on the left side.
4. Next cross the wide end in front of the tie from left to right ending on the right.
5. Now come up through the neck loop and down through the loop made by the previous cross at the front of the tie.
6. Tighten carefully and draw up to collar.
7. The tip of the tie should just cover your belt buckle. If it is too long or too short, reverse these steps to untie the tie and shorten or lengthen it accordingly.
What Not to Wear on an Interview
When you are dressing for a job interview, image really is everything (or most of it). The image you present to a potential employer is the first thing they are going to notice about you – before you even have a chance to say a word or shake a hand.
In order to make a good first impression, you need to dress professionally and separate your social image (if it’s more casual, and it probably is) from your professional presence.
Why it’s always important to dress professionally for a job interview and what to wear.
What Not to Wear on a Job Interview
- Flip-flops or sneakers.
- Underwear (bras, bra straps, briefs, boxers, etc.) that is visible. Don’t wear any underwear that shows – even if your bra straps match your top.
- Skirts that are too short.
- Pants that are too low-rise or too tight.
- Blouses that are too low-cut or too short – don’t show your cleavage or your belly.
- More on underwear and low-rise pants – make sure the top of your thong, if you wear one, doesn’t show above your pants.
Trendy vs. Classic
- A classic interview suit that will last for years is a better investment than the latest trendy attire that will only last a season.
- Your idea of trendy might not match the interviewer’s perspective on what’s fashionable, so err on the side of dressing conservatively when you interview.
- Shop Wisely – Visit outlets, shop sales, shop online, and use coupons to get the most mileage out of your interview budget.
- Plan Ahead – If you have that one classic interview suit in your closet, you’ll be prepared for an unexpected interview, regardless of when it occurs.
Your Professional Presence
- Your Social vs. Your Professional Presence – What you wear off-the-job and socially doesn’t have to be what you wear interviewing or at work. In fact, your professional presence may be very different from personal presence, and that’s fine. They don’t have to mesh – you can have a closet full of fun clothes and a wardrobe of work clothes.
- Perfume and Cologne – Your scent (even if you smell good) can be an issue. I once worked for some who wouldn’t hire anyone he could smell from across the room. Also, scent is one of the strongest senses and your favorite perfume or cologne might be the same scent the interviewer’s ex-girlfriend or ex-husband wore. That subliminal negative impact could squash your chances of getting a job offer. With any type of scent, less, or none, is better.
- Pantyhose – The question of whether women should wear pantyhose on a job interview created a lot of discussion on this site and the answer was overwhelmingly yes.
- Tattoos and Piercings – Depending on where you are interviewing, you may want to consider covering your tattoos and taking out your rings. There are companies that have policies which limit both.
- Starting Your New Job – If you’re not sure what to wear on the job, ask the hiring manager before you start. You can also visit the workplace to see what the people coming in and out of the building are wearing. There is no better way to make a bad impression than to show up for your first day because you’re underdressed or overdressed.
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