At a recent roundtable of Longmont area Human Resource professionals I asked the question, “What bothers you the most about interviewees?”  The overwhelming response was that they felt that people don’t know how to dress for success for interviews.

Interviewing for a new job is serious business and first impressions are critical to the success of the interview.  Studies have shown that the majority of hiring decisions are made in the first two minutes of an interview and the balance of the interview time is confirming that decision.  So, what is often the first point of contact between hiring manager and interviewee? Even before the first word is spoken the interviewer notes how a person is dressed as an indicator of what the person knows about the company, the position and how seriously they wish to be considered.

Dressing for success means different things to different people but remember that in this job market it is the person who sets themselves apart from the other candidates is the person ending up with the new job.  It is very important to know the corporate culture for the company at which you are interviewing.  It used to be that business formal attire was the rule when interviewing; coats and ties for men and dresses for women.  This is not the case any more and often depends on the geographic location of the company and the industry the company serves.  If you are interviewing on the East coast or a metropolitan area like Chicago, San Francisco or Denver, dress has reverted back to business formal, regardless of the industry.  Companies located in smaller towns and western US locations are frequently more casual and business casual attire may be acceptable when interviewing. Leave the tie in the closet.

Different industry segments often dictate clothing considerations when interviewing.  The medical, financial and legal professions and their related industries are often more formal in their attire with high tech, service and manufacturing donning business casual to casual attire.  If you aren’t sure what to wear ASK!  The person who calls to arrange the interview will be happy to let you know what is appropriate.  If the hiring manager calls directly to set the interview, accept then call the company receptionist and ask about how employees of the company usually dress. As a last resort, drive to the company and see how employees dress when they leave the building but remember that employees doing different jobs often use different exits.

Some additional considerations are that regardless of the position for which you are interviewing your clothing must be neat and clean.  Jeans are not appropriate unless you are hoping to work in the construction industry.  Shorts, sandals and shirts that are inappropriate for the workplace should not be worn for an interview.  Polish your shoes, clean your fingernails, comb your hair, and wear no the excessive jewelry, perfume or visible tattoos.

If you want the job, dress like you mean business…not like you are going on vacation.

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