When you’re interviewing for a job, first impressions are everything. To start, wearing the appropriate interview attire is key.
Over at “Laid Off And Looking”, one of the bloggers posts about the “Perils of Interview Attire.” He received positive feedback about his skills, but a middle manager told him after his second round that he was concerned about his attire.
“Too inappropriate, and casual” John was told. When he dressed up in a suit for the final round, the CEO then mentioned to “never wear a tie to an interview at a startup!” Safe to say, John didn’t get the job. So what gives?
Honestly, it amazes me how clueless John is after 12 years in the work force. If you are interviewing at a start up, there’s no business looking like a penguin in the tropics. And if you are interviewing at a law firm, you better not think a polo shirt and khakis are appropriate interview attire.
Interview Attire 101
So what is the best interview attire when you’re interviewing for a new job? Here’s the basics of interview attire today.
- Always dress a half step up than what the company’s dress code expects.
- If the company is a startup where jeans and a t-shirt are the norm, wear khakis, loafers, and a long sleeve collared shirt.
- If the company’s dress code is khakis and a long sleeve collared shirt, wear the same but add a blazer!
- And if the company’s dress code expects a blazer, wear a suit!
The idea is to show your prospective employer R-E-S-P-E-C-T! The more traditional the employer, the more they demand respect through dress. Be careful though, because you also don’t want to look out of place and over address either. Hence, you can never go wrong being a half step more formal.
- First impressions count. Your objective is to blend in, but from an outsider’s approach.
- In other words, you must dress to give the employer respect, but not dress overly formal or casual so that they can’t see you as one of them.
- Blend in like Rambo in the Jungle. If you have no idea how they address, loiter in the lobby on a Monday to get a general sense.
- There’s been a slow loosening of the dress code over the years. That said, there is an unwritten rule that you have to put in your time before you are allowed to dress down. Hence, keep up to date with appearances.
- For women, the same rules apply. I’ve had so many interviewees dress like they are about to go clubbing, it’s ridiculous.
- The employer wants to imagine interviewees as a future equal colleague not as a date.
- Dressing suggestively gives off very bad impressions, and is absolutely not appropriate. Don’t try to look “cute or sexy.” Interview attire is about being professional and respectful.
- Don’t risk making a fashion statement and stay conservative!
Dressing appropriately should be one of the LAST things you should worry about during the interview process. If you don’t have this basic step down, you’re going to have a snowball’s chance in hell when the good stuff begins!
In other words, don’t spend hours deciding what to wear. It’s not a fashion show. Select an appropriate outfit that meets suitable interview attire, then really focus on what you’re going to say.
If You Want To Quit Your Job
Are you unhappy with your job? If you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, I recommend negotiating a severance instead of quitting.
If you negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012, you can not only get a severance check, but also potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training. When you get laid off, you’re also eligible for ~26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.
Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye, on how to negotiate a severance. I first published the book in 2012 and have recently expanded it to over 200 pages with new resources, strategies, and additional case studies thanks to tremendous reader feedback.