What to Wear to an Interview: 4 Tips to Dress for Success

By Workplace Learning Solutions

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So you've been job searching for a while. Finally,  you get a phone call for an interview. After the excitement wears off, what is the first the thing that pops into your mind?  WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR??? It's a question millions of people agonize over at one point or another while looking for a job.

You may be as prepared and as qualified as they are looking for, but how you dress yourself really says a lot about you to potential employers. It can make a difference in your interview.

The stakes are high. First impressions are created in the first few seconds of your interview. Those impressions are made mostly on body language, and yes, your clothes. Since there is not a specific "interview uniform", it is left to the candidate to know how to present themselves.

Each interviewer has their own idea of what qualifies as appropriate interview attire. Don't worry too much about it. Deciding what to wear isn't as difficult as you might think.

These 4 tips will surely ease your mind about what to wear to your interview.

Deciding What to Wear to an Interview

1. Go Undercover

Have you ever noticed that people who work in the same building often dress in sync? They may not all have on a uniform,  but you don't see anyone standing out like a sore thumb. If you have time before the interview, go check out the environment.

Have a cup of coffee in the morning and do a little people watching. If you are not a morning person, drive by at lunch time and watch people going in and out of the building.

If you are going to go on a secret mission, do not do it on a Friday. Many companies have "Casual Fridays" where the dress code is more relaxed. Still not sure what to wear? Call a local professional association. For example, if you are interviewing for a job in the legal field, you may want to call the local bar or paralegal association.

what to wear
2. Dress One or Two Levels Up

The rule of thumb is that you dress one or two levels higher than the job that you're going for. If you are going for a job as a painter, you wouldn't go in there in overalls with paint splattered all over you. That is how you would probably dress for work, but not for the interview. You still must be able to present yourself in a professional manner. You would go in with an open-collar shirt, clean pants and maybe a jacket."

It is almost always better to be higher than the standard than lower. When you dress a notch or two above the normal attire, you're definitely showing that you care about the job.  It also shows that you know the game.

what to wear

3. Be Cautious

When thinking about what to wear to an interview, remember it is not really about what you wear. It's about not taking yourself out of the race based on how you look. Employers look for any reason to disqualify a candidate. You don't want the reason you did not make it to the next phase to be based on your appearance. Interviewers can decide in 10 seconds that they don't want you. It will take them longer to decide they do want you. By dressing on the conservative side, you won't unintentionally disqualify yourself. But trying to demonstrate how hip you are by following fashion trends could backfire.

There are some very definite interview dress do's and dont's to follow. Make sure you are not ruining your chances of getting the job by wearing the wrong clothes to your interview.

4. Use Good Judgment

A suit is not always an absolute must. You just need to do a little research. Every company and industry  will have its own culture. If you know the environment before you get there then you will know what to wear.

It's also usually fine to inquire about the dress code while setting up the interview. A Brooks Brothers suit or your nice Christian Dior outfit may not be required if you find out the dress code is casual.  A personal sense of style is valuable but make sure you dress to the requirements of your potential employer.

You may actually be the PERFECT person for the job and you may confidently know it. However, neither of these things matter if potential employers cannot actually see proof of that.

Knowing what to wear to the interview shows to the interviewer that you respect the company's culture. It also shows that you have spent time doing your research and that you are committed to making the best impression. Your attention to detail says that you have made every effort for your job interview.

Don't forget about your nails, you accessories and your shoes. If you are still unsure about what to wear to an interview, check out our Pinterest boards Ace the Interview-Get the Job and Interviewing for the Interviewer for great examples of what to wear to an interview.


Related Article:  What Are Behavioral Questions and How Do You Answer Them?



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