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Friday, July 24, 2009

What to Wear to a Job Interview?

Another important part of the job search process is dressing appropriately for your interview. This is the first time your potential employer will meet you, and the way you dress will influence how they perceive you as a potential employee. It is always better to err on the side of dressing more conservatively for an interview. This typically means a solid color conservative suit (skirts knee-length or longer), moderate shoes (no stilettos or strange colors, I would stick with black or brown depending on the suit color), limited jewelry (especially for men), a conservative tie for men, and a coordinated shirt (white shirts are always good). It’s also important to be well groomed (short clean nails, and a professional hairstyle are important).

Of course this will differ based on the industry in which you work. If you are working with someone in the HR department to set up your interview with the hiring manager and you’re not sure if a full suit would be appropriate for that particular company, it is perfectly acceptable for you to ask them if they think it would be appropriate. When I was setting up the interview for my current job in a beach town in Southern California, the hiring manager told me that he wears shorts and flip flops to work. Up until that point I had been wearing suits and button-down blouses to my interviews. However, he made a point of telling me what a casual atmosphere the office was and I didn’t want to show up dressed in a way that may suggest I wouldn’t fit in with the company. Yet, I didn’t show up in shorts and flip flops either. I wore pants with a ¾ length sleeve shirt (no cleavage ladies), and 2.5 inch black heels.

Also, I was at a job fair yesterday and the number one advice I can give all job seekers is to buy a new suit . Yes, it is expensive but you only need one suit to wear to all of your interviews. Many of the job seekers at the job fair were wearing old, ill-fitting suits, and this does not impress hiring managers. The suit should be black, dark gray, or dark blue (especially for men), without stripes, and it should fit you well. You can check out Men’s Warehouse, outlet stores, or sales racks at department stores to find a good deal. It is definitely worth the expense.

Ultimately, dressing well for an interview will not guarantee you the job, but dressing inappropriately will guarantee you won’t get the job. It is always better to be too conservative versus too casual or flashy. You don’t want a bad outfit or unkempt hair to keep you away from your dream job.


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