Job interviews are stressful enough, without excess worry that your outfit may not be up to par. Contrary to popular belief, there isn't a single outfit that's perfect for every interview. No two interviews are the same, and your interview attire must adapt to every interview. To successfully dress appropriately for each interview, you need to consider the particular interview stage, the company, and your potential role, each and every time.
Interview Stage: First impressions are everything. When possible, wear your best outfit to the first interview, second best to the second, and so forth. Consider how your attire was received the first time and dress accordingly after that. No matter how many adjustments you make, or how ‘cool and laid back’ the company seems don’t cave in and go ultra-casual in the final stages. It's when your interviewers are making judgement calls on your value to the enterprise, especially in the monetary sense.
Company: Many companies today try to be hip and radical on the outside, yet on the inside they are still traditional in nature. Do your research on the company's values and let that influence your look. Explore the company About Us page, blog, and social media accounts to get a sense of how conservative a business it is. Consider the voice and verbiage used. Reference office photos to give you cues. Also explore online resources such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor, and consult any friends you have at the company. You will quickly determine if the company is super conservative, casual, or creative.
Potential Role: Above all else, you’ll stand out as a candidate most if you dress for the position, rather than just the company. The end goal is to land a job in a position that allows you to use your skills best, and you should dress accordingly to role and management level. Company culture aside, in general, creative outfits will only work in creative job interviews - think graphic artist, designer, and related fields. Next, consider the position level. Casual interview attire is ideal in junior to mid-level positions, but anything higher and you should opt for conservative interview attire (particularly if you're after senior management or an executive role).
Additionally, are some unspoken interview dress code rules and tricks for men to keep in mind:
- Avoid dark shirts and brown or khaki suits.
- Keep both flashy jewelry and facial hair to a minimum.
- Match your socks to the color of your pants.
- Unless designed otherwise, the tip of your tie should end at the middle of your belt buckle.
- The color of your belt and shoes should match or compliment each other.
- Wear your nicest wrist watch and leave the rubber band watches and activity trackers at home.
- Ditch the bow ties and suspenders. They’re best for weddings and can come off as snobbish.
- Where possible, incorporate lines and stripes - They subconsciously show power.
The goal of your interview is an invite to the next stage - next interview round, offer, what have you, but it’s also to make your best impression. Keep in mind that during any interview, the interviewers are evaluating you just as much as you are also evaluating the company and role. Remember, the interview process is the one time you have the most power to influence your potential job title, salary, and reputation. Therefore, as cliche as it sounds, you absolutely must dress for success.