How to dress for a job interview
It’s May, which means just one thing. Thousands of new college grads are soon to be out pounding the pavement in search of that elusive prize – a completely legit job with a bragworthy salary and generous benefits. Although today’s young job seeker is more likely to be searching the want ads from the relative comfort of his laptop than actually plying his wares door-to-door, sooner or later, he will have to meet with a real, live person. When that time comes, he’s going to want to be dressed for the part. Fortunately, there are numerous online sites loaded with helpful advice on how to make a great first impression. If you’re a soon to be new grad, or the parent of a new grad, take a look at the collection of best tips we’ve consolidated below. In a competitive workplace, every bit of advice is worth considering – especially if it’s free! And once you settle on the right image for you or yours, visit us at www.epicmens.com for fast and easy access to many of the leading top-of-the-line men’s clothing and accessory brands.
You’re selling your skills and abilities, so why do appearances matter?
A desirable degree, high grades and glowing recommendations might be what got you noticed, but your appearance and demeanor are what will get you past the HR rep, through the initial interview, and one step closer to your dream job. How you choose to present yourself speaks volumes about your potential fit with the organization and about your level of interest in the company. Show up at a high-rise office in Manhattan’s financial district dressed in business casual and you could be mistaken for someone’s kid brother or the latest in a string of easily forgettable interns. On the other hand, walk into a Silicon Valley start-up wearing a dark blue power suit and polished black leather cap-toe oxfords and you’re likely to come off as a stuffy, by-the-books company man with little imagination and entrepreneurial drive.
So, before you set one toe in a prospective employer’s office, do your homework. Scour the company’s website, talk to current employees, or query your HR contact to get a handle on the organization’s preferred dress code. Visiting law offices or investment banks? Most are formal and dignified. Looking at positions in administration or operations – consider a sharp and well-coordinated, but comfortable, aesthetic. Or maybe, you’re targeting a position in a creative field, say advertising, graphic arts or entertainment. If yes, be prepared to make a statement with bold, out-of-the-mainstream fashion choices.
The conventional thinking on proper interview attire involves identifying the employer’s dress code and then elevating it slightly. For instance, if Chinos and a polo comprise the standard uniform, forego a suit or blazer and instead show up to the interview in gray, blue, or brown dress slacks, leather lace-up or loafer-style shoes, a long-sleeve button down shirt, and an attractive, but subdued, tie. As a general rule of thumb, it’s always better to be a tad overdressed versus underdressed. Your appearance is a key indicator of the effort and enthusiasm you’ll bring to the workplace, and both are just as important during the interview as they are once you’ve landed the job.
What’s the difference between business dress and business casual?
A dress code that dictates business professional or business dress typically calls for a conservatively styled and well-fitted suit in a solid color. Gray, blue, and brown are good bets. Pair your suit with a long-sleeve white dress shirt, leather belt, silk tie, dark socks and closed leather shoes. A business casual dress code, on the other hand, relaxes the guidelines quite a bit, allowing for either dress slacks or Chinos, a patterned or solid button down shirt or a collared polo shirt. It may be possible in a business casual environment to get away without a tie, but leather shoes are still a necessity. And you might remember from one of our earlier articles, leather accessories (including a sleek portfolio or classic messenger bag) should always complement one another. Don’t try to match shades and textures exactly, but do try to coordinate your choices. Shoes and belts should both have either a polished or a matte finish and brown and black leathers should never be mixed.
Also, when in doubt, choose a conservative look over a trendy one. This way, your appearance enhances, rather than detracts from, your other obvious strengths. If the ensemble you put together says “I’m confident, I’m a good fit, and I’m eager to start,” then you’ve made some great choices. In general, your fashion selections should work with you, not against you.
Which of your favorite fashion statements should you leave behind on interview day?
You’ve made the first cut and been called in for an interview. It’s time for a moment of truth. You have to decide what’s more important: a great job with a respectable firm and cushy salary or your often misunderstood, but one-of-a-kind, sense of style. If the answer is the job, then some personal sacrifices might be in order. On the big day, you would be wise to cover the tattoos, lose the piercings, and ditch the nose-tingling aftershave. Also on the list of no-noes are jeans, T-shirts, flip flops, shorts, sneakers and anything that is too revealing. At best, these clothing choices can be distracting; at worst, they can make you come across as disrespectful and ambivalent. The goal is for you to fit in, so that your skills and strengths can be given the opportunity to stand out.
Interviewing for a new job is tough enough without having to worry about what you’re going to wear. If you or the new grads in your life are about to embark on a job search, consider the tips above, and when you (or they) are ready to take the plunge, visit us at www.epicmens.com. Our winning combination of high-end men’s clothing and accessory brands, easy ordering and free shipping are just what a first-time job seeker needs to calm his nerves and put his best foot forward.