|  November 11, 2012

The rules of dressing for an interview

We’ve already established how to dress for an interview based on different dress codes.  If you’ve read that post you know I strongly believe in mirroring your interview outfit to the culture and environment of the company versus just going with a plain black suit.

The goal is to look like you already work there.

In addition to all that, I wanted to share some basic rules of interview attire – the dos and don’ts – that apply across all industries.


  • Choose an outfit that matches the company culture/environment – When selecting your outfit, try to gather as much information as possible about the company atmosphere and dress accordingly.  If you are interviewing at Facebook, there will be many more hoodies than suits.  That doesn’t mean you should be wearing a hoodie, but a casual environment calls for a more casual interview outfit.  When it doubt, always “over-dress”.
  • Have a great tailor, and use them – No matter how nice of an outfit you have on, you won’t come across as put together if it doesn’t fit you.  For both guys and girls, pants can’t drag on the ground, sleeves cant be too long, and blazers shouldn’t be too baggy or tight.
  • Iron, dry clean, wash etc. – This one’s obvious but make sure your interview outfit is clean and unwrinkled.  The absolute worst is when people come in looking disheveled and smelling like they’ve worn the same suit 100 times.
  • Wear things that you’re comfortable in – You know what they say – confidence is more important than appearance.  Always wear an outfit to an interview that you feel amazing in.  It absolutely will impact your interview.

DON’T – in addition to the opposite of everything above…

  • Wear strong perfume or cologne – This can be extremely distracting and have a very negative impact because of that.  If you’re going to wear a scent make sure it is very light and barely noticeable.
  • Wear anything too reveling, tight, or sheer – I’ve definitely seen this mistake happen more than a few times.  Though certain things may be “on trend” such as a sheer blouse that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for an interview.  Same thing with anything too tight, short, or sheer.  Look in the mirror and say to yourself “would I wear this out on the weekend?” – if the answer is yes, probably don’t wear it to an interview.
  • Have messy hair (that includes facial hair) – Messy hair and facial hair can also be distracting and may come across as unprofessional.  For guys, always safe to be clean shaven or well groomed.  For the gals, if your hair can get unruly, wear it in a bun or ponytail.  You also don’t want to be touching it or playing with it during the interview so sometimes wearing it back it the easiest.
  • Over-accessorize – Other than in creative environments, it’s smart to stay away from accessories that are too “loud”.  Also keep in mind, if you wear an obviously expensive accessory (watch, belt, handbag) that may also say something about you to your interviewer.  This is not to say don’t do it, but know it does make a certain impression. Use your best judgment depending on your environment.

If you go by only one rule, keep your interview look simple and polished and you can’t go wrong!

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