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You’re hired! Wearing the right interview attire.

October 17, 2012

Years ago, I worked in a family-owned store selling furniture and home décor. One day, two young high school girls walked through the door inquiring about a job. They were dressed in t-shirts and jeans. I explained that we were not hiring, but that they should consider wearing a more professional outfit. They rolled their eyes and left. I thought to myself, “They are only hindering their chances of landing a job.”

How you dress can say so much about you. It can also say more than you want to say. Your clothing may tell a potential employer that you value their time, that your intentions flow from a serious mind, and that you possess intelligence. On the other hand, your wrinkled shirt may be conveying incompetence, your unpolished shoes may say you crank out shoddy work, and your t-shirt (hopefully this is not you) just expresses that you want to flip burgers or empty waste baskets (no disrespect to those professions).

Without question, wear a suit. Just as you would not bring a knife to a gun fight, never wear anything less than a suit to an interview. The other candidates will be wearing suits and the last thing you want is to stand out in the wrong way. I don’t care if you decide to interview for a job cleaning a movie theatre or that job flipping burgers. Wear a suit and you will make a better impression.

Consider a few rules:

1. Wear a dark suit (charcoal grey, navy blue, or black) – this will say that you take the interview and the job seriously. Darker colors portray serious thought, professionalism, and/or consideration – think church, court, or a wedding.

2. Don’t be flashy – no wild colored ties or shirts. A simple crisp white dress shirt will be best, but light blue will also work. I am amazed at how almost every man looks good in a perfectly white dress shirt. White conveys honesty, trustworthiness and integrity.

3. Make sure your shoes are polished or new. Nothing will tell your potential employer that you miss the details more quickly than scuffed and unkempt shoes.

4. Depending on the type of interview, choose the right tie. Red and yellow convey power. Blue conveys dependability and a collected disposition. The tie should not distract the interviewer – so, no novelty ties (i.e. American flag, Christmas, and God-forbid the Simpsons).

5. Get a haircut. A well-cut head of hair will only solidify your image. In addition, shave your face (or trim your mustache or beard), trim your nose hairs, pluck your ear hairs, and separate your eye brows (if needed).

6. Make sure your breath smells fresh. Brush and floss thoroughly, then put some peppermint oil on your tongue.

When you walk into the meeting, give a firm handshake, look them in the eyes, and smile. Before you leave, ask for the job and thank them for the opportunity. Best wishes!

For more on dressing to impress in the workplace, read my article Hindering your career with poor fashion.

© Copyright 2012 Fashion for the average man.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2012 9:37 pm

    Advice doesn’t get much more sensible than this– well said, sir! : )

  2. October 23, 2012 7:46 pm

    I’m not looking for a job, but what are your thoughts on attire for creatives? I find that there is more scope to dress unusually or fashionably. A suit in a design studio probably wouldn’t go down well.

    • October 24, 2012 12:43 pm

      You must ask yourself some questions and plan accordingly. What do you want to accomplish? Will you be presenting a product to someone? Such as your artwork? Or an advertising package? If so, who is your target audience? If you just want to look good at work, you need to gauge the environment. What type of creative environment is it? Creative settings can vary so much, it makes it difficult for me to picture a good look.

  3. eatwilmington permalink
    November 4, 2012 12:52 pm

    Jeremy, I always enjoy reading you book excerpts. In this highly competitive employment market it is more important than ever to make that first impression a good one! A note about the young ladies in t-shirts: as a retail store manager, I see this often. I have people approach me hot and sweaty just off the jogging trail looking for work. What I finally figured out is that they don’t really want a job, they want to check the block on their public assistance or unemployment paperwork that asks if they have been looking for work so that they can keep getting the free money. A sad testimony to our present times!

  4. March 29, 2013 12:30 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! In this climate everyone needs to do everything they can to make a lasting good impression and your clothes speak volumes. Very wise words x

  5. March 29, 2014 3:24 am

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    matter. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This web
    site is something that is required on the internet, someone
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