Tips to Dress the Part for the Interview

By Brooke Chaplan
Online Career Tips Contributor

If you have an upcoming job interview, one of your main concerns should be what to wear. Your appearance is the first thing your prospective employer will notice about you, so you want to strike just the right note. Here are some tips for both men and women to help you dress the part for this important event.

Why Dressing Appropriately Is Vital

Unless you are applying for a job in the fashion or entertainment industries, your potential employers aren’t just judging your appearance to see if you have a sense of style. They are looking to see that you convey the right image for both client interaction and corporate culture.


If you are seeking work in a more conservative industry, such as finance or law, you will be expected to dress accordingly, as this shows respect and trustworthiness for the customers. Conversely, if you want a job in a more casual setting, extreme overdressing for the interview can be the kiss of death, because it will be assumed you won’t fit in, or consider this job merely a stepping stone on the way to something more prestigious. Overdressing can also signal that you have a distorted sense of what the job is all about.

[Related:5 Job Interview Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make]

How to Determine the Dress Code in Advance

If you have never been to the prospective workplace before your interview, you need to do a little recon to figure out what to wear. Here are some possible ways to get the information you need:

  • Ask your recruiter or temp agency, if the interview was arranged by a third party.
  • Ask a friend or parent’s friend, who works in the industry about that company.
  • Check out the company’s website or social media pages for photos that lend a clue about dress.
  • Look on the Internet to see if there are any chat forums where you could ask about the dress code.
  • Call the company’s HR department.
  • Camp out by the workplace entrance at rush hour or lunchtime to see what people are wearing.

When it doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and overdress for your interview. You can always remove a jacket or tie to make your look appear less formal.

Tips for Female Candidates

Ladies, you have the luxury of wearing either pants or a skirt to interviews today. If a suit is too formal for the workplace, try matching a pair of pressed pants or a skirt with a blouse or dressy sweater. A simple dress with a scarf is also a nice look for almost any industry.

You should probably wear hose with a dress or skirt, unless you are absolutely certain they’re not necessary. You can always ditch the stockings once you get the job and find it’s less conservative.

Make sure your shoes are workplace appropriate and polished. Keep your purse size to a minimum, and if possible, use just a briefcase, so you have less to worry about carrying. Keep hair and makeup simple and demure, and avoid any loud manicures.

Advice for Male Applicants

Gentlemen, you should avoid blue jeans and tennis shoes at job interviews, unless you’re interviewing for a job where these would be appropriate. Even then, a pair of khakis at the interview might be a good choice.

Depending on the workplace, you need to decide whether or not to wear a tie and/or jacket. If a suit is too formal, trousers and a sport coat might be better, or a dress shirt with a V-neck sweater or vest. Stay away from t-shirts and polos, and be sure to wear an undershirt. If you don’t like the bulkiness of old-fashioned men’s undershirts, try one of the newer fitted brands, like from UnderFit, which move with you and don’t show at the neckline.

Just like the ladies, you should wear freshly polished shoes. Make sure your fingernails and facial hair are clean and neatly trimmed as well.

No matter what, you should do a dry run of your interview outfit a few days before to make sure everything looks perfect. If you need to clean, press, or purchase anything, you’ll have a few days to get it done. With your wardrobe under control, you can focus on making the rest of the interview a slam dunk.

About the Author: Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.”

This article at Onlinecareertips.com and was republished with permission.

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