It is important to remember that the way you dress to a job interview plays an important role in first impressions with your employer and interviewer. What you wear and how you present yourself during an interview can be just as important as what you have written in your resume. Although there are many other factors that would be judged upon for your interview e.g. interpersonal skills, articulation, body language, responses, etc. the way you dress is also a supporting factor in making your first impression.
Dressing appropriately would not only reflect how you are as a person, but it also compliments the interviewer. Whether the job that you applied for is formal or casual, it is recommended to wear more formally for the interview unless you are told otherwise. This way, it shows and gives respect towards the people that you will meet during your job interview.
One thing that you should do is a little background check on the industry and company culture you’re applying for to know what is appropriate dress wear. This would help in order for you not to underdress or overdress yourself for the interview. These are a few pointers in how to dress for certain industries1:
- Technology Applying for a job in a technical position would not require you to wear a full suit. Something smart and semi-casual would be accepted in this industry.
- Finance Dressing neatly and in full business attire would be expected for an interview in finance.
- Government An interview for a government job would require you to reserve yourself from anything flashy. Dress professionally and choose an attire that could show that you are responsible and trustworthy. For women, it is important to be conservative with jewellery, makeup and have a simple hairstyle.
- Human Resources An HR job would require you to dress professionally that would show authority. An outfit that could reflect that you are responsible and dependable.
- Sales The typical attire for a sales interview would be a suit, however you may be able to play more with designs and colours but stay sharp. The product or service that you’ll be representing could also influence and determine the typical dress attire for the job.
- Automotive An automotive job is one of the more casual jobs in which a suit would not be required. However, make the effort to dress neatly and if you’re being interviewed for a higher level position, dress up more.
- Hospitality In the hospitality industry, it is important to make a great first impression as your image in this industry is considered critical. For some positions, a suit would be the most appropriate, however it is not required.
- Trades The appropriate attire for a trades job interview would be to stay business casual. Wear an outfit that would look neat and sharp.
Common Attire Tip
The most common advice in dressing for a job interview is to dress smart and appropriately. There is a guideline for both men and women on interview attire that may help you decide if you are still unsure2:
- Suit A safe choice would be to wear a simple suit. A suit would be accepted at almost any job interview unless the work environment is more casual. If the job doesn’t require you to wear a suit, wearing something less formal but still business appropriate would be appropriate.
- Conservative Colours / Patterns Colours that would be appropriate would include navy, dark grey, and black. There are also other colours that are accepted, however avoid colours that are too bright or extreme. Another thing to avoid would be loud patterns and prints.
- Conservative Jewellery / Accessories Avoid using too much jewellery that could divert attention. Wear something simple and keep it to a minimum. If the industry is more casual, there will be more flexibility on what you can wear.
What Not To Wear
These are a few dress code tips that you should definitely avoid before going to an interview. Before your interview, be sure that you have checked these dress codes and avoided them3.
- Ill-Fitting Clothes Avoid wearing clothes that no longer fit you. Wear something that would suit you and fit your body instead of something that it too tight, too loose, or too short. Not only will it be uncomfortable, it will also show that it is uncomfortable and become a distraction.
- Overly Casual Clothes If the job you applied for has a laid-back work environment, there is still a limit in how casual your clothes should be. There is also the tip to dress one level up for an interview to show that you are serious and can be responsible before wearing something more casual for the actual job.
- Anything Distracting Avoid wearing something that is too extreme and distracting such as bright colours, heavy makeup etc. It would not only be in the way of your interview, but it could also make a bad first impression. Remember that the focus of the job interview is the interview itself and not the clothes you wear.
- Excessive Accessories Avoid wearing too much accessories or jewellery that are too flashy, big or make noises. Accessories can also be considered a distraction.
- Ignoring Suggestions It’s always a good idea to ask the dress code and what is expected of you for the job interview. However, if you wear something that is different than what was suggested, it shows that you aren’t serious and also leaves a bad impression that could cost you the position.
Sometimes what is appropriate for some industries may not be appropriate for others and would leave different impressions depending on what you decide to wear. If you are still unsure, do not be afraid to ask before the interview just in case. You only have one chance to give a first impression, and it would be unfortunate if you made a bad impression due to missing the dress code for a job interview.
1 Vogt, P. Dressing for the Interview by Industry, http://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/dressing-for-interview-by-industry
2 Virgina Tech, Interview appearance and attire, http://www.career.vt.edu/interviewing/interviewappearance.html
3 Conlan, C. The 6 Worst Things to Wear to a Job Interview, http://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/worst-things-to-wear-to-job-interview