You get exactly one chance to make a good impression at a job interview. Though they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, your “cover” is all your interviewer has to go by. Whether fair or unfair, you’ll be unemployed if you don’t make a good first impression. As more and more successful businesses adopt casual dress codes, it’s increasingly difficult to know how you should dress for an interview. If you follow these tips, however, you’ll be able to look your best and be ready for any situation.
Dressing right for an interview
1. Neat and tidy wins the day
No one – and I mean no one – will choose a sloppy, disorganized candidate over one who is well put together. Even if you’re applying for the type of job where you’ll get your hands dirty, you need to show you are organized and orderly when it counts. Whether your future job will require a business suit or a jumpsuit, your clothes must be clean, ironed and stain free.
2. Dress to impress (yourself)
If you’re not comfortable in your clothes, you’ll feel unnatural and stiff during the interview. Since feeling out of place can cause you to give a bad first impression – just as bad as underdressing, perhaps – you can try to reach a compromise that fits your personal style. Even so, be sure to avoid any extremes that go beyond what will be demanded by your future employer.
3. Research the dress code
If you’ve done any research about the company where you’re interviewing (and you should), you’ll have a better idea of how their current employees dress. Once you know what their dress code is, you’ll have a target to aim for.
4. When in doubt, go formal
Once you know what target you’re aiming for, it never hurts to aim high. After all, your interviewer expects you to put your best foot forward, so they’ll assume you don’t take the position seriously if you dress down. In contrast, business attire is always appropriate for an interview since it shows respect for your future employer and your commitment to their reputation.
5. Keep accessories to a minimum
There’s nothing wrong with showing a bit of your own personality. In fact, your interviewer might appreciate it if they can learn something about your character from the way you dress. Flashy or attention-grabbing accessories, however, are likely to make a bad impression, as are any actions that show you aren’t taking the interview seriously. Make sure your phone is on silent so it doesn’t interrupt your conversation, and leave your coffee mug in the car. Are you a gum chewer? Your interviewer might be put off by your loud lip-smacking, let alone the view down your wide open mouth! In general, if your clothes or mannerisms become a distraction, you’re entering dangerous territory.
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