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How to Dress the Part: Interview Part 2

Do you have a big interview coming up and are not sure how to look the part?

If dressing up is not important to you, here is why you should rethink this classic and more conservative aspect of finding and landing a job.

First impressions, especially in an interview setting, are critical. The interviewer knows nothing about you or your capabilities. Even if you are overqualified for the job, want to work for an organization that values “individuality”, or want to be authentic, you still need to jazz up your usual appearance. If you walk in (or rather log into zoom) with a wrinkled/stained shirt and messy hair, the initial impression your interviewer will have is that you lack motivation, or worse are apathetic.

As James Uleman, PhD, a psychology professor at New York University and researcher on impression management says, “ You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” (1)

It is always important to remember to target your audience, as some outfits would be suitable for a variety of different settings. However, here are some general easy tips to looking the part for your basic interview:

Aim for conservative or “understated” clothes. This means to refrain from wearing low cut shirts or short skirts. However, if you are interviewing for a niche industry, like the music industry (you may want to tailor your dress to match other employees and culture at the organization). Another example would be food and beverage: coming across as clean cut, hair pulled back, is a neater way that appears clean to work around food.

  • No items of clothing with holes or rips. Look crisp and professional.

  • Make sure that your hands/nails are clean and cut (may seem obvious, but easy to forget).

  • If you know that this will be a casual interview, Experis says to dress just one notch above the typical dress code.

  • If you are not sure what the dress code should be, then it is better to overdress than to underdress (you can always acknowledge you feel overdressed if you end up walking into a more casual environment) (3).

For Women:

  • If you are needing a little more direction for your outfit, look for a nice dress or a skirt and blouse. You might think a good power suit shows the ultimate professional look, but oftentimes it might be too much (Read your audience). Are you working at a high powered tech startup? A club or community organization? Food and beverage company?

  • Not sure what to do with your hair? Click here for some ideas.

For Men:

  • If this interview is business casual, then some dress pants with a pressed shirt and tie will do. A jacket may not be necessary.

  • Click here if you want more details on how to dress the part for different settings.

Mistakes interviewees have made include poor grooming, rumpled/ill-fitting shirts, or general unkempt appearances.

Truthfully, these mistakes will negatively impact a first impression more than you realize. So take it seriously, and dress for success! It can only help you.

Want to learn more? If you have more questions regarding the interview process, dress, etiquette, or more general life questions/concerns click here to book a free 30 minute consultation with clinician, Danielle Feerst, OTR/L. In addition, you can connect with us on our Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Written by Caroline Campione, Summer 2020 Intern



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