How to Dress For the Interview

If you have the questions nailed for the interview, more power to you. But the right response won’t do you any good if you aren’t properly dressed. In fact, research has indicated that people form a first impression in about 30 seconds, and once that first impression is formed, it’s very hard to break. So making a good first impression when you walk in that door is of critical importance.

Here’s the rule-of-thumb for how to dress for an interview: find out how people dress on-the-job and dress just a cut above. If it’s casual, wear a nice pair of slacks and a knit shirt (for men and women) or blouse (for women). If it’s formal, break out that suit. And make sure everything is clean and pressed. (Am I beginning to sound like your mother?)

But how, you ask, do you know how people dress for this employer? Easy: ASK! Call someone you know who works there, check out the photographs on their Website, or call the company’s switchboard operator or HR assistant. Better yet, call and ask to speak with the administrative assistant in the department where you’ll be interviewing and ask her or him. For larger corporations, dress codes can vary from department to department, so it helps to narrow it down. I recommend you be succinct: “Can you tell me what mode of dress is common in the XYZ department?” If, by chance, they ask why you’re inquiring, simply say, “I have an interview and want to make sure I’m dressed appropriately.” Nobody will think less of you for it; in fact, it might even win you some points!

If you are over-dressed, people will fear you won’t fit in with a casual work environment; if you are under-dressed, you may come across as unprofessional. So make the calls, do the research, and dress accordingly.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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