© Written By Jimmy Sweeney
President of CareerJimmy and Author of the new,
"Job Interview Secrets"
Much more thought goes into how to dress for the job interview than is necessary. People buy new shirts and suits and outfits specifically for interviewing, they stay up late the night before ironing, they even buy books about how to dress for success and so on. All this thought and energy is misguided. The key to looking perfectly appropriate on the job interview day is simple: just dress like the people already working there, only a little bit nicer. If you are applying for a creative ad agency or fashion magazine, and you come in your navy blue power interview suit you would look (and feel) just as conspicuous as if you applied for an investment banking job wearing some outfit straight off the fashion runways.
For most jobs, though, the question of how to dress for the job interview isn't essential. Many jobs today are in an office setting that requires business professional or business casual dress most of the time, with a slight relaxation of standards on Fridays. In these cases, the outfit that will make us look and feel most appropriate should be fairly simple to put together. For men, a simple dark suit with a light dress shirt and a tasteful tie should do the trick. For women, a tasteful dress or pantsuit should be adequate for most jobs. Like the outfits themselves, the accessories you wear should be similarly professional in appearance, a word that typically means understated and unobtrusive.
When you dress for a job interview for most jobs, jewelry should not be extremely noticeable for men or women. For men, it should be more or less non-existent, confined to a single ring and perhaps a tie clip and an attractive wrist watch. Hairstyles should be conservative, clean and simple. Cologne and perfume should be sparingly used, and so should makeup. If these guidelines seem boring and conformist to you, you're exactly right. The point of dressing for job interviews is to appear as neutral and unobtrusive as possible in the initial meeting. That's because groups of people, like those who have been working together for a while, tend to instinctively look for subconscious reasons to reject, not accept, new members. If the potential coworker looks like them physically, that reduces their resistance to that new employee.
Though it might be tempting to dress for your job interview in a way that reflects your "true personality," that can be an extremely risky proposition. If that style of dress doesn't match the office, then you begin your session looking like someone who doesn't know the basic facts of the profession and business. Worse yet, you look like someone who is unwilling to compromise his or her exterior appearance in order to be a part of the team. These are two very difficult factors to overcome in a simple interview, and you are likely to feel very uncomfortable and perform less than your best in the job interview unless you handle them ahead of time.
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