Dressing for an interview is so important. I have seen many qualified candidates lose a valuable job opportunity in the first ten seconds of the interview simply because they didn’t dress appropriately and made an unfavorable first impression. To be fair, it is not entirely the fault of the interviewee.

There has been a subtle shift over the past decade to a less rigid attire policy in numerous companies across the country. This has caused some confusion on what might or might not be appropriate for an interview in today’s business casual environment. There are some basic elements that remain constant when you are dressing for an interview.

Dressing for an Interview

  • Men should wear a suit and tie or at least dress slacks and a jacket. It is always easier to take off a jacket to be more casual as the situation dictates than to be uncomfortable because you underdressed for the environment.
  • Women should wear suits, pantsuits, skirts and jacket or a dress. Same applies for the jacket listed above. Remember nothing low cut, too short or too tight.
  • Candidates should be discerning when selecting shoes for the interview outfit. Wear good shoes, nothing worn out, and no sneakers or flip-flops. Leave the stilettos for evening wear.
  • Do not wear a lot of jewelry that can lead to distraction. You want the hiring manager to focus on your answers and appear as crisp and clear in person as you do answering his/her questions.
  • The same applies to perfume or cologne. Less is more. Do not wear too much of either of these as it is another distraction.
  • Do not wear heavy makeup.
  • If you smoke, be aware that those fumes permeate your clothes, so make sure your interview outfit has been cleaned and smells fresh.

Appropriately dressing for an interview will start you off on the right foot. Your appearance is the first impression the hiring manager has of you. Dressing for an interview appropriately makes a lasting impression.

Now that you have mastered dressing for the interview, remember to sit up straight, make eye contact and have a strong interview handshake. Also, in today’s mobile environment, leave your cellphones off.  If your call is more important than your interview, you have just lost the job.