Think you know what to wear to a job interview? Maybe your standard interview attire is part of the reason you’re still trying to land a position.
There are a lot of ways to tank a job interview. Lack of chemistry with the interviewer, lackluster responses or a simple lack of qualifications can create a negative impression with an employer. But can your outfit be the only thing that stands between you and a job offer?
Under the right conditions – yes it can. Although most interviewers are willing to overlook minor fashion snafus (i.e. the wrong tie or a hemline that is an inch higher than the norm), gross miscalculations can instantly disqualify you as a candidate – especially if the employer is a stickler for conservative on-the-job attire.
Now that casual dress codes have invaded the workplace, it can be difficult to decide what to wear to an interview. The truth is that traditional interview outfits may not apply for certain sectors or employers. As a rule, dress in a manner that is consistent with your industry, erring on the side of conservative and classy versus flashy and cutting edge.
Interview Attire for Women
- Suits vs. Separates
For a conservative employer, suits are the hands-down wardrobe choice for interviews. If the employer or industry is known for being a little more casual, separates are fine – as long as they are professional, neat and include a jacket.
- Skirts vs. Pants
Women have the added decision of skirt or slacks. Although the trend clearly falls on the side of pants, the right skirt suit communicates the kind of formal professionalism that is a hit in the financial industry and other traditional-leaning employment sectors.
- Colors & Accessories
Neutral, conservative colors are safe unless you are applying for a position in the fashion or creative industries. Likewise, restrict the accessories to a few, classic pieces that complement the rest of your wardrobe.
It goes without saying that your hair should be neatly groomed. Most experts also recommend securing your hair in a manner that keeps it in place and allows the interviewer to see your facial expressions.
Interview Attire for Men
When it comes to interview attire, a suit is a man’s best friend. For conservative employers, a suit can be worn with a white shirt and a tie; for slightly more casual employers, it can be dressed down by leaving the tie at home and possibly wearing a modestly colored, button-down shirt. But in the suit category, stick with dark solids, i.e. navy or charcoal gray.
Most interview scenarios require not only a tie, but a conservatively colored tie. Unless you are absolutely sure that a bright, flashy tie is the right choice, choose a tie that subtly accents your suit.
Some experts recommend going formal with laced, cap toe shoes, while others suggest it’s fine to wear a sharp loafer. We’ll leave this one up to you, but either way, polished black shoes and dark socks are a must.