You know that it’s important to make a good first impression at a job interview and that your choice of interview attire is a big part of that. But dressing for job interviews is a lot more complicated than it used to be.
For example, let’s say you’re going to an interview at a company where no one ever wears a suit – not even the CEO. Should you still dress formally for the occasion, or will you look out of place? And if you do decide to go for a more casual look, how can you make sure that you still appear professional and respectful?
When in Doubt, Dress Up a Little
Dress codes vary. For example, a tech start-up in Silicon Valley might frown on someone who dresses too formally, while a Fortune 50 company on Madison Avenue might frown on someone who dresses too casually. It’s important to get a sense of the corporate culture before you head into the interview, to make sure that your attire is appropriate
However, regardless of what everyone else at the company is wearing, it’s essential to take particular care with your appearance during a job interview. The candidate dressed in a suit and tie, or dress and heels, will usually make a much better impression than the candidate dressed in jeans and sneakers.Learn more about what to wear for a corporate position and what to wear for a more laid-back casual position. In both cases, being well-groomed with clean, untattered clothes is always required.
How to Dress for a Corporate Interview
If you’re going on a job interview at a company in a traditional industry, such as finance, banking, or insurance, you should opt for more formal corporate attire. In general, this means a suit and tie for men and a pantsuit or skirt and blouse for women.
Men’s Interview Attire
The best interview outfits for men in the corporate world tend to be conservative. Men should always default to wearing a suit. All clothes should fit well and be free of stains.
Here are a few guidelines for men who are interviewing in corporate roles:
Suit in a solid color such as navy, black, or dark gray
Long-sleeved shirt that is white or color coordinated with the suit
Dark socks and conservative leather shoes
Little or no jewelry
Neat, professional hairstyle
Limited amount of aftershave
Neatly trimmed nails
Portfolio or briefcase
Women’s Interview Attire
In general, interview fashion for women in corporate jobs is more complicated and varied than it is for men. The increased options make assembling an interview outfit a bit more challenging for women than for men. For instance, if you’re wearing a dress or skirt, you need to decide if you should wear pantyhose or if bare legs are acceptable.
Women also need to consider interview accessories and choose an appropriate purse. The best interview bags are ones that are professional and large enough to fit a resume but aren’t flashy.
Here are the fundamental building blocks of what women should wear to a professional interview:
Suit in navy, black, or dark gray
Suit skirt just below or above the knee
No very large dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets
No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry
Light makeup and a limited amount of perfume
Clean, neatly manicured nails
Portfolio or briefcase
Tips for Making the Best Interview Impression
Take some time to prepare your interview outfit to be sure you’re ready to make the best impression.
- Well in advance of your interview, make sure you have appropriate interview attire, and everything fits correctly.
- Get your clothes ready the night before, so you don’t have to spend time getting them ready the day of the interview.
- If your clothes are dry clean only, take them to the cleaners right after an interview, so you’re prepared for the next interview.
- Be sure to polish your shoes the night before.