Find key dressing for success free expert style tips, strategies, and resources for men and women jobseekers.
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
It’s probably one of the most overused phrases in job-hunting, but also one of the most underutilized by jobseekers: dress for success. In job-hunting, first impressions are critical. Remember, you are marketing a product — yourself — to a potential employer, and the first thing the employer sees when greeting you is your attire; thus, you must make every effort to have the proper dress for the type of job you are seeking. Will dressing properly get you the job? Of course not, but it will give you a competitive edge and a positive first impression.
Should you be judged by what you wear? Perhaps not, but the reality is, of course, that you are judged. Throughout the entire job-seeking process employers use short-cuts — heuristics or rules of thumb — to save time. With cover letters, it’s the opening paragraph and a quick scan of your qualifications. With resumes, it is a quick scan of your accomplishments. With the job interview, it’s how you’re dressed that sets the tone of the interview.
How should you dress? Dressing conservatively is always the safest route, but you should also ask questions about the dress code so that you fit in with the organization when you arrive for your interview. If you over dress (which is rare but can happen) or under dress (the more likely scenario), you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
How do you find out what is the proper dress for a given job/company/industry? You can call the Human Resources office where you are interviewing and simply ask. Or, you could visit the company’s office to retrieve an application or other company information and observe the attire current employees are wearing — though make sure you are not there on a “casual day” and misinterpret the dress code.
Finally, do you need to run out and spend a lot of money on clothes for interviewing? No, but you should make sure you have at least two professional interview outfits. You’ll need more than that if you get the job but depending on your current financial situation, two is enough to get through the interview process. You can buy more once you have the job or have more financial resources.
How should you dress? Dressing conservatively is always the safest route, but you should also ask questions about the dress code so that you fit in with the organization when you arrive for your interview. If you over dress or under dress, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
Expert Tips for Looking the Part at a Job Interview
Attention to details is crucial, so here are some tips for both men and women. Make sure you have:
- clean and polished conservative dress shoes
- well-groomed hairstyle
- cleaned and trimmed fingernails
- minimal cologne or perfume
- no visible body piercing beyond conservative ear piercings for women
- well-brushed teeth and fresh breath
- no gum, candy, or other objects in your mouth
- minimal jewelry
- no body odor
Finally, check your attire in the restroom just before your interview for a final check of your appearance — to make sure your tie is straight, your hair is combed, and you look your best.
For more tips on dressing for an interview:
Clothes might make the man – or woman – but your attire alone won’t get you the job you want. Check out LiveCareer’s other resources for jobseekers: