Hello SOTGCY community,
I realize that there is a “Fashion” category that has been sadly neglected as of late. Part of the reason is that this was supposed to be “Alex’s” category since fashion is a passion of hers and I run around in scrubs everyday at work. However, the category is here, so I might as well write in it occasionally.
I remember when I was getting out of college and entering into the workforce one of the biggest questions I had was “what do I wear for an interview and does this change based upon the industry I am interviewing for?” Even now, after I have been working for 10 years, if I were to enter back into the interview process I would do some research to figure out what I should wear. Each industry has it’s own style, flavor, and “unwritten attire norms” that need to be adhered to during the interview process. Some are more fashion forward and it’s OK to be flashier while others are VERY conservative and wearing too much color, too much makeup, or flashy jewelry could clear you out as a candidate, even if you are more than qualified for the position.
Let’s face it people. We are a society that makes snap judgments based upon how someone presents himself or herself. “Self presentation” does not stop simply at what you are wearing though. How you interact with, carry yourself, and your confidence all contribute towards your attire. For instance, when our team has an open position and a candidate is put in front of me during the final steps of the process, one of the first things I do is assess their appearance. By this I do not mean their aesthetic looks. I mean, how are they dressed? Are they in a suit or “business style dress” of some sort even though I will always show up in scrubs? I do this for a reason, I want to throw them off and bit and see how they react. My mentor did this to me when I was interviewing with Salient Surgical. He had flown into town for a big case with one of his account managers and picked a very high-end resort for us to meet at. I was waiting for him in the lobby in a full skirt suit, resume and mini “brag book” in hand, and he came strolling through the doors in scrubs. Inside I smiled and thought, “OK…this guy is going to throw you off the entire interview to see how you react,” and he did.
There’s no getting around it: In every job interview, you’re going to be judged — at least partially — by how you look. But how you should look varies depending on your industry and the job you’re interviewing for. Take a look at general interview attire expectations for eight career areas:
Technology ”If you’re applying for a technical position, you won’t need a suit,” says Carole Martin, a former Monster contributor and author of Boost Your Interview IQ. “A collared shirt and khakis or slacks would work. Same goes for women — sweater or blouse and slacks or a skirt.” But upgrade your attire if you’re interviewing for a higher-level job. “You dress in the best clothes you have,” says David Perry, managing director for Ottawa, Canada-based high tech recruiting firm Perry-Martel International and author of Career Guide for the High-Tech Professional. “No exceptions.”
Finance If you’re interviewing for a finance job, remember that “nothing is more precise and exact than managing money,” says Pamela Holland, chief operating officer for Brody Communications in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and coauthor of Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move?“You cannot afford to have a hair out of place. Full business professional attire is required and expected.”
Government At an interview for a government job, “don’t be flashy,” Holland says. “This is a time to show you’re responsible, trustworthy and honest.” But a bit of color is OK, whether you’re a man or a woman, says Kathryn Troutman, author of Ten Steps to a Federal Job. ”Be conservative with jewelry, makeup and hairstyles,” she says. She advises being conservative overall, but adds “the days of all white shirts for men in government need to end.”
Human Resources If you’re interviewing for an HR job, “you must look professional and authoritative,” Martin says. “You’ll need the look that you could handle any crisis and be dependable.”
Sales Typically, a suit is the uniform for a salesinterview. After all, stresses Martin, “who would want to buy from a guy in a T-shirt and jeans?” But you might be able to go with bolder designs and colors, Holland says. “The product or service you’re representing will determine how classic versus trendy/fashionable you should be,” she explains.
Automotive ”Here’s an exception where a potential employer will understand if you have a little dirt or grease under your nails,” says Holland of interviewing for an auto repair job. “You still want to look as neat as possible, but a suit is probably not necessary.” That is, unless you’re interviewing at a high-end dealership, says Heidi Nelson, a personnel counselor for Car People Oregon, a Portland, Oregon, automotive staffing service for new-car dealerships. In that case, Nelson says, “I would dress up a bit more.”
Hospitality Image is particularly critical in the hospitalityindustry, says Martin. A suit is appropriate for some positions but not always a must. However, you always need to make a great first impression. ”You’re representing the company, and you may be the first person seen,” she says.
Trades John Coffey worked as a factory production manager for years before becoming a career coach. His take on appropriate attire for an interview for a trades job: business casual. ”For men, this might be a nice pair of Dockers and a buttoned shirt, along with well-kept and polished shoes,” says Coffey, career success officer for Winning Careers in Woodbury, Minnesota. “The same goes for women — nice slacks and a professional business top. I think a suit or sports jacket for this type of work is overkill.” Of course, one industry’s excess is another industry’s underdressed. So don’t be afraid to ask, because no matter what, “your packaging counts,” says Holland. That packaging includes the little things. “The details matter,” says Mary Lou Andre, president of Needham, Massachusetts-based Organization by Design and author of Ready to Wear: An Expert’s Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe.
Prepping for an important interview means researching the company and making sure you have smart responses to anticipated questions. It also means being strategic about what to wear to an interview. Specifically, you want to choose job interview clothes — and colors — that will put you in the best light and may give you an advantage. Research has shown that 85 percent of communication is nonverbal, so choosing what to wear to an interview is clearly an important part of your overall presentation. Here’s what some common colors convey so you can put them to best use when getting dressed for the job interview:
Blue: You can’t go wrong with darker shades of blue, especially navy. Choosing from this powerful spectrum will project an image of someone who is in control. From the interviewer‘s point of view, the color blue conjures up calm, stability, trust, truth, confidence and security.
Gray: After blue, gray is the second most popular color to wear for an interview. Like darker blue, it’s not a distracting color to the interviewer, which means they’ll be focused more on what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Gray denotes sophistication, so use it to your advantage.
Black: This is a commanding color and represents authority. Black also connotes drama, so use it carefully when putting together your interview outfit. You may want to use it as an accent — like in a scarf or tie, for instance — rather than as the primary color.
Red: This is an extremely powerful color. It’s so strong you should only use it as an accent color. Reds are associated with energy, passion, desire, power and aggression. People think of intensity and passion when they see the color red, so use it sparingly, or it could send the wrong message to the interviewer.
White: White shirts and blouses are always a safe bet. It sends the message of simplicity, cleanliness, precision and goodness. In this very competitive job market, give yourself every opportunity to shine in the interview. Knowing what job interview clothes to wear makes a statement about who you are. Choosing the right colors will reinforce that positive impression.