First impressions are everything. Humans respond instinctively to visual stimuli and often aren't aware of it. This means that what you wear factors heavily into how a hiring manager evaluates you. The old saying, "less is more" is the best advice you can take when deciding what to wear to an interview. Avoid jewelry except for watches or small earrings. Apply only minimal cosmetics and keep hairstyles as business-oriented as possible. Answer questions intelligently. Act sincerely interested in what the hiring manager is talking about. And above all, look your best.
If you are interviewing for a leadership position in any type of business, always wear business attire. For men, professional attire consists of suit jackets, dress shirt, tie, and slacks. For women, business attire consists of dress slacks or knee-length skirt, and a blouse with or without buttons. Never wear casual clothes to a professional interview, such as t-shirts, jeans or tennis shoes.
Wearing business casual attire is suitable if you are interviewing for a non-managerial position or a position in an informal work environment. For women, business casual clothes include dress slacks, skirt, blouse, or sweater. Jackets and hosiery are optional. Flip-flops should never be worn with business casual clothes. For men, button-down shirts, dress slacks, and dress shoes are acceptable business casual clothes. Ties are optional. Polo shirts, shorts, and jeans are considered business casual attire.
Casual attire consists of clean, nice pants, and shirts that fit well and show you practice good hygiene. For example, casual attire is not that beloved old t-shirt with a few tiny holes that you wear every other day. Nor is casual attire a pair of trendy ripped jeans or concert t-shirts. It is acceptable to wear casual attire to interviews for start-up companies and for informal businesses like fast-food restaurants or convenience stores.
No matter what position you are interviewing for, wear neutral-colored clothes to make a solid impression. Neutral colors are various shades of blacks, blues, grays, and whites. Avoid wearing flashy checkered or polka-dotted clothing. You don't want the interviewer to be distracted by how you are answering questions or handling yourself. Save the bright colors for parties and night-clubbing.
Women are no longer expected to wear skirts or dresses in the workplace. This standard also applies to managerial and non-managerial interviews. If you are wearing a skirt or dress for an interview, make sure it is knee-length and neutral-colored. Dresses should not be low-cut. Sleeveless dresses can be worn during appropriate seasons. Wearing light sweaters over sleeveless dresses is also acceptable.
Although a brand-new pair of jeans or khakis look nice and clean, they are not always acceptable interview attire. For men interviewing for construction, manufacturing, or skilled trade business, wearing new or fairly new jeans that are unwrinkled and free of holes is fine. The main thing to remember about making an indelible impression on hiring managers is to wear clothes that show you understand their company's business culture and goals.
Don't assume a job interviewer won't notice what kind of shoes you are wearing. In most cases, job interviewers are trained to take note of everything a potential employee brings to the interview, including their clothes. When in doubt, wear dress shoes and avoid sneakers or sandals. Women should never wear stiletto heels to any type of job interview. Men and women should not wear loafers, sneakers, sandals, or flip-flops to business professional or business casual interviews.
There's no better way to determine if your interview outfit is a winner than to try on several outfits before going to the interview. Have a friend help you decide if what you plan to wear is acceptable. That orange silk blouse or pair of retro baggy pants that you love to wear may not seem so attractive to a more objective evaluator.
The only thing you should smell like when going to a job interview is clean. Shower and use deodorant only before shaking the interviewer's hand. Don't use perfume or aftershave. It doesn't lend anything to the first impression you give the interviewer. Also, that person who is responsible for hiring you may have asthma or another respiratory problem that is worsened by perfumes.
Listen to your favorite tunes while commuting to your interview, but don't keep listening to music when you enter the building. In other words, ditch the earbuds or headphones and turn off your cellphone. If you seem unfocused or disinterested in the interview while waiting, the hiring manager may simply ask cursory questions just to finish and move on to the next potential employee.