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How to Dress for a Job Interview: Interview Attire Guide

Your wardrobe can be your passport for success. What you wear to a new job interview can be of great impact and open doors for you. - Walter Mercado

They say never judge a book by its cover, so is the attire really that important for an interview?

Before we go ahead and answer this, let us play out some situations for you.

Situation #1: Imagine a scene where you turn up for an interview, and the whole panel is looking sharp in suits and ties while you are standing in your sneakers, jeans, and tee. Don't you feel like the odd man out? Scratching the surface, isn't there a massive disconnect in outlook between you and the panel? Will they think you are a good fit for the team at first glance?

Situation #2: You have got strong opinions on everything, from clothes to careers. Your sartorial choices are something you will not have anyone dictate to you. But the company you are going to interview at demands a particular dressing style. Will you conform to the standard or not? Or, will you insist on being individualistic instead of being a team guy? The dress code does unite people, after all. 

Situation #3: You do not care an iota about how you dress. Do not judge a book by its cover is your mantra. Why should the company care how you look when technical expertise is what matters in the end? You do not want to be a dandy. You want to be a solutions guy. But in a world where just about everyone is as qualified and skilled as you, don't you think the panel might lean towards the smarter-looking copy of the same book? After all, in his jacket and shirt, George put in some effort to look presentable and professional. Doesn't that say something about him? 

Situation #4: Who is a better brand ambassador for the company? Someone who is always slovenly turned out, or is it somebody with crisp, fresh attire? Which of the two communicates, albeit subtly, the nature of the business the company conducts?

Now, do you understand how crucial dress is to a company's brand, outlook, and team spirit? It reflects what the company as a whole stands for, what parts the individuals play in that role, and how, through dress, they reflect company attitudes and outlook. 

Also, the first impression anyone has of you depends a lot on your outfit of choice. Clothes are the new window into your soul. So, if you are on the bandwagon where you believe dressing for an interview does not matter, you might want to rethink that seriously. 

Here is a short brief of what's in store for you in this article.

- The basics of what to wear to an interview

- Types of interview attire

- Strategies for Figuring Out How People Dress for Their Jobs 

- Interview Outfits 

- Final Step: Do a dress rehearsal

The basics of what to wear to an interview

You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it. —Edith Head

If only this statement was true! But it could prove to be the clincher if you are against the competition of equal weights. 

When it comes to how to dress for an interview, here are some rules of thumb to follow. 

  • Comfort is the key. You do not want to be tugging at a loose skirt, or pushing away ruffles, or worrying about that hole in your sock. Comfort does not mean that comfortable baggy cardigan, however, or that lucky shirt with holes in it. Comfort implies no itching, tugging, or ill-fitting clothes. Keep these elements in mind while preparing for a job interview how to dress.
  • Take this nugget of wisdom from a certain William Somerset Maugham: 'The well-dressed man is he whose clothes you never notice.'  Do not try to stand out for your dressing style in the wrong way. You can attempt a shot at classy but steer clear of loud, comical, or flashy while considering interview how to dress. 
  • While wondering how to dress for a job interview, you cannot go wrong with business attire. No matter the organization you are interviewing at, formal business attire is a crowd-pleaser. Even if you turn up at a casually dressed interview panel in an ironed suit, it won't impact you negatively. The same is not true of the reverse situation. 
  • When researching how should you dress for an interview, look up the office dress code. Scour the internet for pictures on company outings and the like. See how the CEO dresses. As an aside, remember the great debate about whether Zuckerberg would wear a suit or an irreverent hoodie in front of Congress? Most probably, he followed this piece of advice and turned up in a suit. Find out what the herd wears and then suit up in similar garb. 

Types of interview attire

Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. —Bill Cunningham

Luckily, you get to choose your armor before the battle. So before you suit up, learn a little more about the different dress options you have before you. 

While researching how to dress up for an interview, you will come across three broad categories. 

  • Smart Casual

The easiest one on the list, the go-to sartorial choice for how to dress for an interview casual, is smart casual. Smart casual is simple. Try shirts or tees with collars for men. Ditch the ties and suits. Wear closed shoes in shades of brown or black. Well-cut pants in neutral shades of brown, navy, black paired with blouses with minimal prints are suitable for women. Also, keep the jewelry to a minimum for how to dress for an interview casual. 

  • Business Casual

Business casual steps it up a notch when it comes to interview how to dress. For men, it is time to bring out jackets or sports coats. Blazers are also a suitable option. You can, however, omit the ties. Wear shirts in blue, white, grey. And for women wondering how to dress for a job interview, it is time to opt for the dark jackets and blazers. Wear blouses in light shades and trousers in dark colors. Also, keep jewelry to a minimum of three pieces.

  • Business Formal

The most stringent on the list is Business Formal. This option is the full suit for both men and women. Are you always confused about how should I dress for an interview? Then opt for business formal attire since no one can fault you for it. How to dress for an interview was just made easier. 

Strategies for Figuring Out How People Dress for Their Jobs 

And before you begin to speak, your clothes do the talking for you, so before you set out, it is best to find out the interview how to dress. There are various ways in which you can find out what is expected sartorially of you. 

  • Ask Your Recruiter

Stuck wondering about how should you dress for an interview? Shoot off a mail to the interviewer. Ask them rather than assume. Usually, they may not respond to something as trivial as this, but it is not wasted effort. Better to ask how to dress for a job interview than to go there and look foolish. 

  • Visit the Company's Social Media

If asking how to dress for an interview does not work out, then do the second-best thing and stalk the company online to gain pictures into their typical work week. You will indeed find great tips on how to dress up for an interview for the top companies. Look through the company's social media handles, and you will find pictures from events, work schedules. Then choose something similar.

  • Search for Company Profiles Online

Companies are getting their office workdays published through reputed magazines online. If you do a Google search, you will be sure to find the company you will interview at, showcasing how its members dress. Extrapolate the idea, and you will know job interview how to dress. 

Use these three tips on how to find job interview how to dress and conquer them from the first impression itself.

Trivia

Did you know that colors speak volumes about you?

  • Black means you are authoritative and domineering
  • White conveys simplicity and truthfulness
  • A great calming, stolid color is brown, which evokes stability and endurance
  • Blue is a soothing color that conveys calmness and confidence

Interview Outfits 

You might be completely clueless when it comes to dressing for an interview, so this list was compiled for someone like you. It will tell you how to dress for a casual interview or a business formal interview. It also covers dressing tips for summer internships and jobs. None of these preparations should ever take precedence over technical interview prep mock classes though, since that is what will truly help you ace the interview.

  • Business Interview Attire

In Silicon Valley, you are not likely to meet this type of formal attire diktat since most tech companies are offbeat, creative, and quirky. But in the rare case that you are interviewing at a firm that insists on business interview attire, check out our tips for both men and women.

  1. Men, opt for a suit. A crisp wrinkle-free shirt, belt, leather shoes, and you are good to go. The colors speak volumes, so check out our trivia section for details. 
  2. Women, choose skirts, dresses, pantsuits, but make sure you wear pantyhose as a traditional company will frown on bare legs. Keep jewelry simple and stylish. Choose a staid-looking bag instead of anything too flashy. 
  • Interview Outfits for Women

Dress shabbily, and they remember the dress; dress impeccably, and they notice the woman. —Coco Chanel

Women should remember this sage advice from fashion doyenne Coco Chanel. If you want to create a substantial impression on the panel, take a look at these tips.

  • Wear classic, sophisticated, professional blouses
  • Try a navy-blue blazer with shirts of white, grey, pink
  • Experiment with button-down shirts and keep them tucked in
  • Look for blouses with interesting details, but the details should not be too over-powering
  • When all else fails, go classic with the black dress and tights
  • Pair a block-colored sweater with black dress pants
  • Match a V-neck sweater and slacks
  • For a formal look, opt for dress pants or a skirt
  • Always chose comfortable, closed-toe shoes with only the slightest heel
  • Interview Outfits for Men

To achieve the nonchalance, which is absolutely necessary for a man, one article at least must not match. — Hardy Amies

That quote means you must not match every aspect of your clothing because it might give the impression you are a bit of a dandy. As a man, you want to be classic, chic, elegant, all without having tried. Effortless is what you are aiming for, so look through these tips and breeze through that interview. 

  • Simple is best. Wear classic suits in navy, black, grey, or brown.
  • Choose ties with a quirky pattern 
  • Play with textures. Think corduroy or tweed for a completely different look. 
  • You can try a light blue suit to rev things up if the company stipulates business formal
  • To make your shirts stand out, try bold colors like cerulean, purple, brown, rust. 
  • When it comes to ties, pick a classy one or a quirky one, do not stay in between
  • If you are not an experimental dresser, then opt for the most traditional universal classic of a navy blazer
  • For a clean, offbeat office look, try a shirt with a sweater. The sweater should complement the shirt and be in neutral colors of brown, fawn, or taupe.
  • If you are caught between business formal and business casual, then try a light-colored suit, which translates as a power-packed addition to a glowing resume
  • Non-Professional / Business Casual Interview Attire

Business casual usually causes a lot of confusion among job-seekers. How casual is casual? Surely you do not mean jeans and a t-shirt. No. For business casual, you can lean more towards the 'business' than to the 'casual.'

  1. For women, choose dress pants, knee-length skirts, and classic blouses in cream, white, beige, navy, grey
  2. For men, choose button-down shirts, sweaters, pants in corduroy, gabardine, cotton, or wool
  3. For shoes, women can opt for closed-toe pumps, flat ballerina, or kitten heels
  4. Men can wear lace-up shoes or closed shoes.
  5. For accessories, choose from trendy ties and watches
  6. Women should limit their jewelry to studs and one or two bracelets.
  • Casual Interview Attire

If the interview states casual attire, then you have plenty to play around with in terms of style and outfits. There is a wide array that you can choose from -  jeans, t-shirts, blazers, button-downs.

  • Women can opt for skinny jeans, low heels, blazers, classic watches.
  • They can also pair button-down white shirts with traditional blue jeans and a jacket.
  • Girls can also wear plaid skirts with full-sleeve blouses for a soft, casual look.
  • Men can opt for classic jeans, white t-shirts with black blazers. 
  • Do not, however, wear sneakers
  • Men can also wear khaki pants with plaid shirts. 
  • College Job Interview Attire

Dress very formally, even if the company states business casual for attire. Men should opt for a suit, dress shoes, tie, and women should try pant-suits or skirt suits. As already stated before, you cannot go wrong with formal business wear. Colors are very crucial. Most people say blue is their favorite color so go for blue shirts, ties, or suits. 

  • Internship Interview Attire

When you go for an internship interview, remember that it could translate into a job, so take technical interview prep mock classes or Interview prep courses to prepare thoroughly for the job.

So how to dress up for an interview for an internship?

  • For women, choose classic, wrinkle-free white cotton shirts and pencil skirts. You can also opt for a black dress with minimal accessories. 
  • For men, choose sweaters to wear over your shirts and opt for a business casual look. There is no need to wear a full suit. 
  • Summer Job Interview Attire

Want some confidential career advice? Try out for several summer jobs. They certainly help to spice up your resume. While a summer job won't have the same nature of grilling as a regular job, and you won't need to prepare interview questions or get coding interview preparation, you should still pay attention to your garb. Please do not ignore it as too trivial. 

  • For women, opt for khaki or dress pants. Skirts and dresses in any light cotton fabric are welcome.
  • You do not have to wear a tie for young men, but wear button-down shirts or t-shirts with a collar. 

It is not very challenging to know how should I dress for an interview in the summer. 

  • Warm Weather Interview Attire

When the weather gets warmer, comfort should be your primary goal, so learn interview how to dress for warmer weather. You can opt for skirts below the knees or a well-cut dress in some light cotton fabric. For men, try lightweight suits and neutral-colored shirts. Avoid sandals and go for closed fitting shoes. 

  • Skirts, dresses, light cotton blouses for women
  • Lightweight suits, cotton shirts, dark-colored socks for men
  • How to Choose Interview Accessories

It is not recommended you wear anything more than a watch for men. But on the other hand, if you are wondering how to dress for an interview casual, you can wear light jewelry like rings or a bracelet. To avoid heavy jewelry, women should choose simple, classic statement pieces instead of chunky loud items. Also, avoid dangling earrings. 

  • Best Job Interview Hairstyles

Keep the hairstyles simple. Although short hair works great, style is personal. If you want to go in with the Jack Sparrow dreadlocks, do so, but at your own risk. If you're going to be bold, explain your choices, though, and it will make for a great interview talking point. 

For women, you should preferably put your hair back or on top of your head. Try not to channel the mess of a Leslie Winkle, but the polished class of a Joan Holloway. These tips make for some excellent career advice and some useful insights on how to dress for an interview. 

  • What Not to Wear on an Interview

No ill-fitting clothes. No loud funky shoes. No loud jewelry. No loud colors. No clothes with stains on them. No heavy make-up or overpowering cologne. For women, avoid low cut blouses, underwear showing through the clothes. Avoid hats and any headgear. Also, avoid t-shirts with nasty messages or rude images.

Jeans, flip-flops, shorts, low waist pants are all strict no-no. Learn how should you dress for an interview before you set out to conquer the job market. 

Final Step: Do a dress rehearsal

A week before the interview, take some technical interview prep mock classes. You can also opt for advanced Interview prep courses, especially if you're preparing for FAANG interviews.

While preparing for coding interviews, you will not have time to think about your attire. So, prepare your clothes in advance. Dress up and show your close friends and family. Ask them for their input. If you do not like something, change it quickly instead of regretting it later. 

To end, here is some savage advice from the Queen of fashion herself, Anna Wintour:

If you can't be better than your competition, just dress better. 

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