Hire me attire: how to dress for a job interview
Picture this: it’s the night before a career and internship fair or job interview and you are faced with the challenge of putting together an outfit for the big day to come. Your clothing might be a surprisingly influential factor during an interview.
That doesn’t mean you should go out and buy a fancy new suit right away. In fact, that’s one of the worst things you can do, and let me tell you why.
You need to feel comfortable enough in your own skin to where you can answer some uncomfortable interview questions like the dreaded “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”
So let’s tackle some of the anxiety and ambivalence surrounding the idea of interview attire. Much of that comes from a variety of factors such as weather, geographic location and varying degrees of professionalism expected within each field.
The spectrum ranges from business professional (where a suit and dress shoes are expected) to casual, with business casual resting enigmatically in the middle.
Business casual is perhaps one of the most difficult styles to grapple with because there is so much room for interpretation.
If you are truly baffled by all of this, Forbes magazine suggests calling the human resources department of the company you are applying to in order to get a feel for what might be deemed suitable.
Serena Wiese is a senior technical recruiter for a medical technology company based in the Silicon Valley. She has pragmatic advice for candidates applying in the fields of engineering, marketing, legal and finance.
“You should be connecting with your recruiter at every stage in the game. I take care of my candidates and let them know what appropriate interview dress is,” Wiese said.
Wiese also suggested avoiding the following at all costs: sneakers, jeans, perfume or cologne and over-the-top makeup like false eyelashes.
“Less is more,” Wiese said.
You will do better in your interview if you feel like yourself without much unnecessary embellishment.
An interview is a chance for an employer to get to know you and see if you would be a good fit for the company. So show them why you would be a good fit before you even speak.
You have very little time to manage others’ impressions of you. So everything about you must say “I’m the one you should hire” from your handshake to your shoes.
However, a word of caution from the senior technical recruiter: “You’re not going there to be something you’re not,” Wiese said.
So don’t go out and purchase a brand new entire outfit. It may not seem like the real you that employers are trying to get to know.
Pull pieces from your own closet and supplement a modestly patterned blouse or dress shirt you already own with some new slacks or a formal skirt (with a hemline no more than two inches above the knee) and you’ll be in good shape.
If you are a good candidate you will have done your research, and part of that research is finding out exactly how to dress to make a good impression with a company.
So call human resources, talk to other members of the company on Linkedin and maybe even consult with a personal stylist in a department store.
You’ll find that having the right “hire me attire” can make a world of difference.
ALLISON REISS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graphic by CA Aggie Graphic Design Team.