What to Wear for Your Interview: Dress for the Job You Want: 7/7/15

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Generally speaking, how you dress for a job interview won’t get you the job.

But it can easily jeopardize your chances.

Clothes don’t make the man or woman, but in the first moments of a first meeting with a hiring manager, they speak for you before you can speak for yourself. What they say may prove indelible.

At the end of the interview cycle, when the interviewer is reviewing stacks of resumes and notes, you want the interviewer to remember what you said, not what you were wearing.

Your clothing selection is a visual description of your taste and style. It’s 100 percent you, for better or worse. Like a resume, phone call, cover letter or thank-you note, your wardrobe is your calling card.

How you dress should enhance your overall presentation, adding subtle emphasis to desirable qualities like strong self-esteem, organization, and responsibility. People who dress well generally look and feel more professional and confident.

If I’m doing an interview dressed in a suit and tie, I expect the candidate to be similarly dressed. Of course, that doesn’t always happen.

I’ve had young people come to meet with me wearing T-shirts and jeans, acting as if I should be impressed. Yet, by under dressing for our meeting, they display a lack of respect for me and the moment.

If you don’t know the dress code for an interview, simply call the company and ask. Once you know the dress code, show up for the interview one step dressier than expected.

It’s a sign of respect and visually you look like you belong at that company in a leadership role.

If your wardrobe is limited, here’s a handy tip: Wear the same outfit or two for your first interviews at different companies. Remember, Company B doesn’t know you wore the same suit to Company A.

Let’s review the basics:

Men: Always wear a clean, freshly pressed shirt with a suit. Ties are optional. If you opt for a tie, use good judgment: You don’t want to be remembered as the guy with the really strange tie. And don’t try to impress me with your hip wardrobe. Leave your after-hours attire at home.
Women: Conservative dress is essential. This is absolutely not the time to show cleavage or be provocative. You risk making the interviewer uncomfortable and it suggests poor judgment.

By the way, I also feel this way in the every-day workplace. Cleavage is inappropriate and degrades women as professionals. I also think in these days of concern about sexual harassment, it sends the wrong message. I don’t know what the male version of showing cleavage is, but whatever it is, don’t do it.

As for shoes, women or men, you can’t go wrong with black, leather and polished. Make sure your shoes aren’t at the end of their days. Be conservative. That advice applies equally to women: Leave the stiletto heels at home.

Accessories should be minimal. Wear a wristwatch. It shows you value time. Don’t wear an oversize, three-pound diver’s watch or something with Mickey Mouse on the face. Wear minimal jewelry that is subtle and stylish.

Presumably, you’ll be coming to your interview with a purse, briefcase or business portfolio, which includes extra copies of your resume and other materials that might be appropriate.

Leave everything else in your car – including your cell phone. You won’t need to call anyone during your interview. Save that for afterward.

Categories: Job Tips with Phil Blair