A job interview can be a great opportunity to highlight your experiences and skills to a potential employer. There are many components that go into preparing for a job interview—your choice of clothing is probably the last thing on your mind. However, the way you dress can make an impression on the interviewer and influence their perception of you. Appearing put together and well-dressed demonstrates your professionalism and respect for the opportunity, whereas appearing sloppy and unkempt can reflect poorly on you and make you seem indifferent about it. Another reason to dress for success is that it also boosts your confidence; if you are not dressed appropriately for the occasion, you could feel as if you are not putting your best self forward, which can cause you to be nervous or unprepared. Thus, it is important to ensure that you have an appropriate outfit for job interviews that you feel comfortable and confident in.
Tips on Dressing for an Interview
- Ask about the dress code: It’s best to err on the side of caution and dress more professionally when dressing for a job interview, but if you’re unsure, it doesn’t hurt to ask about the dress code. This would also help give you a sense of the company culture and understand their expectations for dress and appearance.
- Wear clothes that fit: Clothes that are ill-fitting will draw more attention to your appearance and make you seem less put-together. Try on your clothes beforehand to check that they fit well and that you look clean and presentable. To avoid looking sloppy and rushed, iron your clothes to remove any wrinkles and use a lint roller to get rid of any small particles.
- Keep accessories minimal: Pieces that are overly flashy can be distracting and take away from what you have to say. Keep your accessories simple, as that will complement your appearance; you want the overall focus to be on your experiences, and not your appearance.
- Focus on grooming: Grooming refers to taking care of one’s hair, skin, and nails. Your hair should be brushed and ideally kept away from your face. Your nails should be either clean and trimmed or manicured in a natural manner. A well-groomed appearance reflects positively on you, as it demonstrates that you take this opportunity seriously and want to put your best foot forward.
It is worth mentioning that these are just a few tips on how you should dress for an interview that would work for most companies. Each company may have their own guidelines for how employees and potential employees should present themselves, so follow these tips as they apply to you and your situation. Dress in what makes you feel confident, as clothes can be an extension of our personality and self-esteem.
Types of Business Attire
Not all business environments are created equal. Depending on factors like industry, event, and company culture, the dress code can differ. Here are the 5 different types of business attire and a few examples of each:
- Business Formal: Business formal attire is the most formal of the 5 types. It is similar to business professional, but is usually reserved for formal settings like award ceremonies or black-tie dinners.
- Examples of business formal attire: Neutral and dark colored clothing, business suits, simple ties, button-down dress shirts, leather shoes, closed-toe shoes with a modest heel, professional dress that is knee-length or lower, hosiery
- Business Professional: Business professional attire is most often seen in traditional industries like finance, law, and government and/or in situations that are client-facing. It is usually the standard for any job interview as well. It is more formal than business casual, but less so than business professional.
- Examples of business professional attire: Business suits with a blazer and matching pants/knee-length skirt, collared long-sleeve dress shirts, simple tie, slacks, dress shoes, closed-toe shoes, blouses that are not sleeveless, hosiery
- Business Casual: Business casual attire integrates formal office wear with the more casual daily wear, while still remaining professional. Whereas business professional dress codes would require a blazer or matching jacket, business casual dress codes would allow dress shirts or blouses to be worn without one. Different industries have their own definitions for what business casual entails.
- Examples of business casual attire: Button-down shirts, sweaters, blouses, polo shirts, cardigans, closed-toed shoes, slacks, khakis, chinos, knee-length skirts, dark unripped jeans
- Smart Casual: Smart casual attire is one of the more uncommon dress codes. It is a more elevated casual look, blending elements of casual clothing—such as comfort and color—with more professional dress. It is typically seen in more relaxed settings, like social work events.
- Examples of smart casual attire: Blouses of different prints and/or fabrics, optional blazer, polos, button-down shirts, chinos, dress pants, unripped jeans, flats
- Casual: Casual attire refers to informal clothing that is mostly worn in settings other than professional ones. More and more companies—especially those in the tech sector—have been leaning into a casual dress code. In more traditional industries, the occasional “Casual Friday” may happen, but casual wear is not appropriate in the office.
- Examples of casual attire: T-shirt, jeans, sneakers, casual dresses, shorts, tank tops, leggings
How Student Hires Can Help
Student Hires aims to educate students in areas related to career development. We provide one-of-a-kind programs for students to explore different careers and gain relevant experience before transitioning into entry-level roles. Our workforce development programs prepare students for future careers in a variety of Career Technical Education sectors.
Job Fair Blog Series
Leading up to the job fair, we will be publishing a new article each week in our Job Fair Blog Series. Below are the articles:
- 5 Tips for Crafting the Perfect Resume
- Elevator Pitches: Everything Students Should Know
- Dress for Success: 4 Tips On How to Dress for a Job Interview
- Networking 101: Tips on How to Build Your Professional Network
- The Power of LinkedIn: 6 Tips on Building a Good LinkedIn Profile
- Ace Any Job Interview With These 6 Tips
- 5 Important Things To Do After a Job Fair
Dressing for success is one of the first steps in building your professional image and making a good impression on potential employers. Clothing can speak volumes about the type of person you are—whether you are meticulous or careless, organized or unorganized—and your level of interest in the position. As such, always remember to dress for success!