How to Dress for a Job Interview

Everything communicates something to somebody.

I received this advice from a good friend of mine. Whether we intend to or not, we are always communicating. Everything we say and everything we do tells somebody something about us.

This includes our attire.

In a job interview, you only have one shot at making a great first impression. Unfortunately, many interviewees hurt their chances of obtaining a job because of their attire. They just did not dress appropriately.

If you have an upcoming interview, you should be asking, “What should I wear?”

Here are a few suggestions to insure that your clothes do not reduce your chance of getting that next job:

  1. Research the company’s culture. Fortunately, you can learn a lot about an organization through a few simple web searches. Are they more or less formal? What attire do the employees typically wear? Study the organization’s typical dress and choose your attire accordingly.
  2. Dress one or two steps up. Once you have determined the typical dress of employees at the organization, dress one or two steps up. For example, if most employees only wear a button up shirt and pants, add a jacket. If most employees where a jacket, you may want to wear a suit and tie. Remember, it is always better to overdress for an interview than underdress.
  3. Don’t overdo the individuality. It is okay, and sometimes beneficial, to express your individual style. But don’t go overboard. Remember, you are trying to demonstrate that you would be a good fit for the organization, not a risk.
  4. Make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free. Consider taking your interview clothes to a cleaner prior to the interview. At a minimum, wash and iron your clothes.
  5. Jeans and sandals will rarely help you. There are some clothing options that will hurt your job prospects far more often than help. Even in a casual organizational culture, jeans and sandals rarely increase your chances of getting a job. They are best avoided.
  6. Don’t wear cologne or perfume. Scent preference is highly individualized. While you may love the cologne or perfume you just purchased, your interviewer may hate it. And you never know how strong of a scent is too strong for them. So don’t give your interviewer a headache. Avoid strong scents.
  7. Do wear deodorant. Yes, this is getting a little personal, but anyone can get nervous in an interview. Unfortunately, your nervousness can lead to excessive sweating. Body odor and underarm sweating usually don’t help you put your best foot forward in an interview. So make this a non-issue by using deodorant.

Don’t let your interview attire hurt your job prospects. Make sure your clothes communicate your job-readiness to the interviewer.

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