Dressing for success helps cinch a job interview
First impressions are the most important factor when searching for a job.
There are many variables that can influence the outcome of a job interview, not the least of which is an applicant’s appearance. While in a perfect world, other qualities would be more important than what an interviewer sees, first impressions are generally the most remembered. The rules for what one should wear to an interview have changed over time, and high school students seeking work often get mixed messages from the adults who offer advice.
Michigan State University Extension recommends the following when it comes to dressing for an interview:
One rule will certainly never change: Personal hygiene matters most of all. A potential employer will not forget an applicant who appears dirty, messy, or has a strong smell, and it doesn’t matter whether that smell is caused by body odor or by an overzealous application of cologne.
An interviewee must also consider the importance of how he or she dresses. Gone are the days when a business suit was always the best choice. Today, what is considered appropriate will vary by the position, and even by the employer. While a suit would probably be appropriate for an interview at a bank, it might be out of place for an interview in a trendy store. The key is to do your homework and dress appropriately. A quick internet search such as, “What should I wear to an interview at XYZ Company?” will often reveal what large employers expect of applicants. When information is so easily available, an applicant who clearly knows nothing about the company’s standards is not going to be taken seriously.
If you have done your research but are still not sure of what a specific company wants to see in its applicants, a good rule of thumb is to dress at least slightly nicer than you would on the job: Khakis, a polo-shirt and nice shoes, if the job will normally require jeans, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes.
Finally, whatever you choose to wear should be neat and clean—no missing buttons, scuffed shoes or torn clothing (even if you bought it that way). If you don’t like to tuck in your shirt, wear a shirt that is not meant to be tucked in. Of course, under garments should never be visible; remember that “sexy” is not a personality trait most employers value.
Remember: An employer is more likely to hire a candidate who captured attention due to a strong interview, than one who is only remembered for inappropriate clothing choice.