What to Wear to a Job Interview

What should you wear to a job interview?

It’s an age-old question that has become even more important as the recession drags on and jobs grow scarce. It’s an employers’ market right now, so if you want a good shot at being a viable candidate, you need to make sure your resume is up to date and that you dress appropriately for your job interview.

So what should you wear?

It depends on both your industry and the position level you seek.

  • Traditional industries like accounting, banking, and law require formal business attire in tailored fabrics. A matching suit or a business dress in a dark or neutral color works perfectly.
  • Creative industries like fashion, interior design, and architecture call for interview apparel that mixes the formality of traditional attire with fashionable elements that showcase your artistic flair. Suiting separates in unusual patterns or fabrics would work, as would traditional business attire with creative accessories.
  • People-oriented industries like teaching, social work, and health care call for attire that acknowledges formal business wear but emphasizes approachability. A blouse, pants, and vest would work well, for example, as would a collared dress in a neutral shade and simple silhouette.

Traditional Business Attire

Creative Business

People-oriented business

Traditional Business Creative Business People-Oriented Business

All clothing courtesy of Macys

Interview attire is really just an extension of your resume. If you really “know your stuff” in your field, then you know that every industry has its own dress code and you should wear the most formal “uniform” of your industry to a job interview.

Keep the cost of your apparel in line with the position you seek. Don’t over or under-spend. If you wear designer duds to interview for a receptionist position and discount clothes for an executive position, it will confuse and turn off your interviewer. Don’t do that. Match the cost of the clothes with the position you seek.

For entry-level positions, stick with discount or chain store clothing that fits your budget. For mid-level positions, opt for mid-range apparel and accessories that reflect your level and income. For executive and high-paying positions, look for fine fabrics and accessories that accurately show your status. If your budget can’t take that kind of hit right now, borrow pieces from friends or family or scour consignment stores or eBay to find great pieces you can afford.

New to an industry? Returning to the work force? Haven’t had to look for a new job in decades? Then call the H/R department ahead of time and ask what’s appropriate. If it’s a small business and there is no H/R department, then err on the side of formality and wear a jacket or blazer. It’s the one piece of clothing that adds instant credibility and can upgrade any outfit. You can always slip it off later if you find you’re overdressed and/or are intimidating your interviewer.

So what’s the bottom line? Your prospective employer is looking for “curb appeal” — candidates who look as good in person as they do on paper. They don’t want  “fixer uppers” or “projects” – they want someone who looks like she can come in, set down her purse, and get to work right away. And just like houses that are “move in ready,” employers are often willing to pay more for that “shiny apple” candidate who looks good, interviews well, and has all the qualifications for the job.

Business Wear MagicTry it yourself and see!

Need more in-depth information on what to wear for an interview in your particular industry? Business Wear Magic unravels the mystery behind company dress codes so you can know in an instant how to dress at any level at any industry for any company in the world.

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