People told me at various points in my life that I must wear a suit whenever I interview for a job. No exceptions. But, as I got older, I realized that there were exceptions. On one hand, that realization was a relief since I don’t feel particularly comfortable in suits. On the other hand, it left significant room for error.
I know many of you likely face the same struggle. You don’t want to show up overdressed or — especially — underdressed. To learn some best practices, I turned to Stitch Fix, the well-known San Francisco-based personal styling service.
“What you wear and how you look will convey to the recruiter or interviewer your level of interest and sincerity about the prospective job while also helping you feel more confident,” said Layne Cross, who is Stitch Fix’s NorCal styling supervisor.
Do your research
As we’ve discussed in the past editions of this newsletter, you need to do research on a company before sitting down for an interview. Cross told me by email that research should also extend to the company’s culture and dress code.
“These insights can provide a good baseline when it comes to what you choose to wear for your
Interview,” she said. “Look to see if the company has an Instagram account or a Glassdoor page with pictures, these will also help you with your search.”
Cross said it’s recommended that you aim to dress slightly above the company’s baseline dress code, but you should still stay within the bounds of what you’d expect to see in the office environment. Dressing appropriately can highlight that you understand the company and industry.
Aim for confidence
If you’re like me, you may have some favorite clothes that you turn to whenever you have an event or special occasion. I know some people have go-to interview outfits, for example. Cross said those can be great outfits and tools during interviews if it gives you an extra boost of confidence.
“Confidence has a lot to do with how you show up in an interview,” she said. “If you have a specific button-down shirt, blouse or dress that you tend to reach for on interview day because it gives you an extra boost of confidence—then go for it! That being said, be sure this go-to outfit or clothing item feels right and appropriate for the prospective job and company.”
Also, having a go-to outfit doesn’t mean you should turn to the comfortable clothes you’d use to lounge around the house on weekends.
“Definitely leave your favorite sneakers or hoodie at home when you head to an interview,” said Cross. “Comfort is key on the weekend but showing up to an interview with your best foot forward (sans sneakers) means finding a balance between interview-appropriate clothes that make you feel both confident and comfortable.”
Worry about the weather?
One of my biggest concerns about dressing for important occasions is the weather. As a New Yorker, it means I’ll either need to squeeze into an overcrowded and overheated subway car during the summer. Of, during the winter, I’ll need to wear several layers to just get to the train station.
Despite those extremes, Cross said it shouldn’t make too much of a difference to the look of your outfit.
“What you will want to take into consideration when dressing for an interview are color and fabrication,” she said. “In the summer months adding a blouse in a pop of color like cobalt or fuschia can be a fun option, but be sure to avoid that 100% wool sweater you love. No matter the time of year, it’s always important to remain polished - no straps should be showing and nothing should be too sheer.”
Similarly, Cross said it shouldn’t matter whether the interview is in person or over video. You should still dress to impress. “The most important thing to do is wear your confidence and looking the part - even if it can’t be seen - is helpful in projecting confidence. I would suggest dressing for a video interview just like you would for an in-person interview.”
The bottom line
Ultimately, you should pick an outfit that makes you feel confident and polished, Cross added. “Don’t overlook the details,” she said. “Everything is important - from making sure your shoes are free of scuffs to bringing a structured bag that can house a fresh copy of your resume. Even the smallest things can have a big impact.”
“Being well-groomed and in wrinkle-free clothes is always in style, no matter what the job maybe.”
What are your rules for dressing for a job interview?
@Emploi @Andrew Seaman
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