A face-to-face interview is the ultimate goal of any job search. It’s your chance to reinforce the already stellar impressions you’ve made with your cover letter and resume, and a golden opportunity to demonstrate all the ways you’d be perfect for a position.
You’ve got all of two seconds to make a great first impression, so make sure you look your best when a potential employer first lays eyes on you. This is also the last first impression you’ll get to make in this process. And while first impressions can be based on just about anything, the clothes you wear can have a major impact on how you’re perceived.
Do Your Research
Do you know anyone that currently works at the company you’re interviewing with? If so, this person is the best resource you have right now. They can give you the dirt on the overall feel of the company and insight into the personal style of each person you’ll be meeting with. If the company is casual but your interviewer tends to dress more formally, aim for the formal end of the spectrum.
No one to give you the inside track? No worries. Just ask the person you scheduled your interview with.
No one to give you the inside track? No worries. Just ask the person you scheduled your interview with. Whether they’re in HR or are the actual hiring manager, this question never reflects badly on the person asking and will give you all the insight you need.
Take It Back a Notch
So, you’ve done your research and your contact ensures you that this is a jeans and sneakers kind of company. Don’t buy it. Even if it’s a casual environment, you want your first impression to be, at the very minimum, professional and put together. Use what you’ve learned as a baseline and then step it up a notch or two…but that’s it. No one wants to be the guy wearing a three piece suit to an interview at the Brooklyn ad agency, but you also don’t want to be the guy wearing a holey t-shirt and flip flops, even if the person interviewing you is. The goal is to reflect the company’s vibe, but also show that you know this is a formal process.
Spring for Something New
If stone-washed jeans were in the last time you interviewed, it’s time to update your wardrobe. You don’t have to spend a ton of money, but you want to look modern and fresh, not dated. This goes for everything from trendier pieces to classic looks. Cuts and fabrics change, so make sure yours are clean, modern, and up to date. And for more experienced interviewees, this is an easy way to come across as relevant, current, and forward thinking. You don’t have to be overly trendy, but small updates like changing your glasses — a quick trip to Warby Parker can help you update your look in a hurry — or adding a new piece can go a long way to showing you’re still in the know.
A job interview is a formal event and you should dress accordingly. This means wearing situation-appropriate clothing that fits well and accentuates your best features. Yes, the interviewer is going to judge you based on your qualifications, but they’re also going to form subconscious opinions of you based on how you look. You can’t avoid it. Dressing well shows you’re aware of the importance of the event and that you think highly enough of yourself to put in the effort.
Some final advice: when in doubt, err on the conservative side. If it’s been a while since you’ve put on your best suit, take it out and make sure it fits before you secure your first interview. This will give you ample time to get clothing tailored or to go shopping. If everything fits well, take it to the cleaners, even if you don’t have an interview lined up. You might get a call for a next-day interview, and you don’t want to look anything but your best.
You feel confident about your wardrobe, but what about the rest? We’ll give you some key tips and pointers on how to ace the interview.
28 Days to a New Job is a month-long Hired Guns course designed to help you maximize your competitiveness in the current job market. Learn the secrets to getting a job from hiring managers, recruiters, negotiation experts and more. Read our our introductory post here. Or Subscribe Now to receive 28 Days to a New Job as a daily email.