How to Dress for Job Interview Success

Photo by  Félix Prado  on  Unsplash

Congrats, you’re going for the interview! Now that you’ve made the connection, it’s important to dress right to make the best impression. I’m sure you’re wondering how do you dress for a job interview these days? An interview ensemble should be clean, professional, and put-together, and also communicate confidence, a good work ethic, and even a little bit of personality. However, there are many with so many differences in industries, companies, and individual roles; it can be challenging to advise a client on what to wear.

How to Dress for Job Interview Success

While I believe there isn’t one right answer when it comes to interview attire, the following job interview dress tips are what I give to my clients when selecting an outfit for their job interview. And, above all, you must feel comfortable in order to convey confidence.

Do some research.

First, think about what would be “appropriate dress for this job interview” in the context of this role, at this particular organization. Consider what the people wear at the company at you’re interviewing for, and make it a touch more professional. The days of wearing a suit to an interview are over, so look into the company culture to understand how to dress for how to dress for a job interview. If the office is super casual and everyone is wearing jeans, wearing business formal could signal you haven’t done your research and aren’t culture fit. However, upgrading your light wash jeans and sneakers to black jeans and flats or loafers could do the trick. On the other hand, if you don’t think you’d feel out of place in a suit, that’s probably enough of an answer.

Don't wear anything that would distract you or the person interviewing you.

The focus of your interview should be on the content of your answers, not your clothing. Avoid anything distracting to an interviewer such as clothing that is too tight, clothing you'd need to adjust constantly, an article that is visibly dirty or wrinkled, strong perfume or cologne, or something that would be seen as a “shiny object.” Shiny objects naturally attract attention because of superficial characteristics and could be anything from very colorful shoes, a shirt with words or messages on it, or very large jewelry. Similar items include accessories that make noise, such as a bunch of bracelets.

All of these things could create distractions from the dialogue. Your goal is to give clear and concise answers and ensure your interviewer is focused on what you are saying. An in-person interview communicates your personality, your skills, and your unique qualifications for a position—eliminate anything that would potentially distract from this message. That’s not to say that your attire should not convey your personality and attitude. But remember, your clothing should put you in the spotlight rather than the opposite.

Don't try anything new with your appearance for your interview.

Some people fixate on looking perfect and this aspiration can lead them astray. I'd rather have a client show some grey hairs than try coloring their hair the day before, especially if they've never done it before. If the person usually wears makeup, I recommend that they stick their usual look and not add anything significant. Also, an interview is not the time to try out new shoes.

While you may need to buy a new outfit or dress more formally than you're used to, try wearing your interview outfit for 20-30 minutes a few days prior. This is to minimize the things you're experiencing for the first time during an interview, and even prepare for them. If your shirt is itchy, know to wear something under it. If a tag is poking, cut it out. You're already meeting new people who will be asking you questions and using them to evaluate you—you don't also want feel uncomfortable.

Don’t let your tech do the talking.

The worst thing someone could bring to an interview is a phone (or similar device) that has not been silenced. There is nothing more embarrassing, distracting, and outright rude than a phone going off, whether the volume is up or on vibrate. Take the time to totally silence it, whether that means putting it on “airplane mode,” “do not disturb,” or totally shutting it off.

However, with smart watches and other wearable devices you need to be equally careful. I would recommend fully removing the smart watch and opting for something else, but if you need to wear this, know how to silence this too. Also avoid fitness bracelets that light up with motion. If you need to use your computer during your interview, shut off any desktop notifications you have. You don’t want little on-screen popups notifying you of unread emails. Finally, once you arrive at your interview, take your headphones out and stash them away.

So how do I dress professionally for a job interview?

Like I said, there isn’t an easy answer to this question. Don’t be afraid to ask your contact or recruiter for tips. Do your research. At the end of the day, you want an outfit that’s speaks dressed to impress job interview. What is that? That’s job interview attire that is equally professional and comfortable, and makes you feel absolutely great.

P.S. If you’re preparing for interviews, you might also be interested in my recent post on using emotional intelligence for interview success!