Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” What we wear creates assumptions from the people that are around us, both at work and in our day-to-day lives. What you wear to a job interview CAN determine your fate in the job interview. There are some simple rules for a job interview that everyone should follow.
Dress for the position one level above the job. For example, if you are applying to be a welder, wear what you would imagine a welding supervisor might wear – probably a button up shirt or polo with khakis. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed, but within reason. There will not be many job interviews where you need to wear a tuxedo or evening gown. Make sure that clothes are not too tight, too baggy, nor too revealing.
Have your clothes ready ahead of time. Pick them out, hang them up somewhere that they are safe, and put them on as you leave the house. The less time you are wearing those means the less risk of accumulating cat hair or food crumbs on your suit jacket or skirt.
Remember good hygiene. You should come to the interview appearing to be clean with combed hair, trimmed nails, and fresh breath. If you are a smoker, do not smoke on the way to the interview. Not only will the smoke affect your breath, it will affect the way your clothes smell. Once you have your interview clothes on, your cigarettes need to be put away.
Some gender specific rules:
Gentlemen, keep the jewelry to a limit, professional hairstyle with groomed facial hair, neatly trimmed fingernails, and no visible chest hair. No cologne and light on the aftershave, as the interviewer could be sensitive to the smells.
Ladies, the word to remember is Conservative. You want to keep jewelry to a minimum (not much of it and nothing extravagant), earth-tone makeup, no perfume, no more than one bag, neat hair (consider a bun or other professional style, depending on the interview), and only heels that you’re comfortable walking in. Your fingernails should be manicured with no dramatic choices made in terms of color or print.
One last point to consider before we end this post: first impressions last a lifetime, and they don’t always happen when you shake a person’s hand. Especially in the smaller towns of our region, you may make that first impression with potential employers at the grocery store, at the gas station, or at a restaurant. Do not let that interaction doom you as the person that wears bunny slippers to Hy-Vee, the person that wears inappropriately revealing clothes to Parent Teacher Conferences, or the person who smelled so bad that an aisle of Wal-Mart cleared out. We all like to be comfortable, but every situation has an appropriate level of comfort and below that is when you build a reputation as someone who doesn’t care about their appearance, hygiene, etc.