Dressing for a job interview can be intimidating and confusing. Of course, you’re much more than what you wear, but what you wear can be a sign of how well you understand an industry. And as the term “culture fit” becomes more common during job interviews, it’s becoming increasingly more important to convince your prospective employer that you are a great fit for the company itself, as well as the role.
Of course, before going into your job interview, it’s important to do your research on the company. Doing this will have more benefits than simply picking out your outfit for the big day, but it should help you do that, too. Do a search on the company website to see if you can find a picture with a few of the company’s employees and see what they’re wearing. Of course, you’re not going to wear what you might on a normal day of work, but you’ll get a sense for how casual or formal the company is.
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The last thing you want is to show up to your job interview and feel as though you need to fidget with your outfit the entire time. During your interview, you’ll need your mind to be focused on your conversation, not your appearance. Make sure your outfit, while classy, still feels comfortable to wear. If you feel uncomfortable in your clothes, it could show in other areas as well. Trying having a try-on test a couple days before your interview. Walk, sit, and stand in your outfit to make sure everything stays where it should and fits well.
Better to be overdressed than underdressed
Being either overdressed or underdressed could tell a hiring manager that you don’t have a deep understanding of the company you’re applying for. But, if we were to choose between the looks “I probably won’t take this job seriously” or “I eat ambition for breakfast,” we’d go with the second. Besides, everyone knows job interviews are important, so dressing like you believe that only makes sense and will tell your interviewers you’re taking the job seriously.
Let’s take a look at some job interview outfits that work great for various roles and industries.
With most corporate job interviews, the rule of thumb for picking your outfit will be to keep it understated and conservative. For men, this will probably mean going with a blue, black, or grey suit and for women, sticking with a pantsuit, pencil skirt, or conservative dress. While adding a pop of color or an accessory to show your personal style is probably fine, just make sure your overall look says you’re professional and you mean business. See what we did there?
Whether you’re going after a job as a designer, writer, illustrator, or any other role that may be classified as “creative,” you may find you have a little more freedom when it comes to your wardrobe choices. In this case, adding a color or two or a fun pattern could be a fun way to show off your personality. Always remember to keep it professional and don’t let your outfit take the attention away from how great a candidate you are.
Interviewing for an education role may also give you a little wiggle room in your wardrobe. You really can’t go wrong while making your outfit professional with a touch of prep. Think, J. Crew, Gap, Banana Republic. For women, a pencil skirt, dress, or slacks are fine. Pair that with a sweater or blouse. Patterns and pops of color are ok as long as they don’t distract attention away from you. For men, slacks and a dress shirt or sweater over a dress shirt would be appropriate to wear to an education interview. Depending on the school you’re interviewing for, a tie and jacket may be better suited. A good blazer is an awesome wardrobe staple that can help even the oldest of t-shirt look more put together. Just remember to keep it professional (ie. no shorts or tennis shoes), yet comfortable.
Tech and Startup
While tech companies and startups are known to have a more casual environment, for your job interview at one, you should aim to take it up a notch. Dress pants, khakis, or a skirt paired with a button-down, blouse, or sweater should be perfectly appropriate for your tech or startup interview. Again, you may want to spend time stalking researching the company first. Dresses and suit coats could also be appropriate but so might a nice pair of jeans. Notice what the company’s employees wear to work and then plan your interview outfit by taking what you see up a level. Typically, however, you’ll be able to leave your suit at home.
Tell us what your go-to job interview outfit is! Do you typically wear the same blazer to every interview or do you like to mix it up and add a pop of color to your outfit? Let us know in the comments below and share with a friend who needs some subtle wardrobe help.