As an executive recruiter, my job is to find the candidate with the right skills for the position and a right cultural fit for the company. Appearance can play a role in the process – from a candidate meeting with me, to that final interview with a potential employer. At an executive level, the dress is relatively standard – a contemporary power suit, darker shoes and relatively conservative accessories. Recruiters still advise their clients to dress for the job they want – not the job they currently have, and they know that people are evaluated by their appearance (this is a key body language element in first impressions), and they want their clients to gain a nonverbal advantage by already “looking the part.”
At non-executive levels, the ‘dress for success’ model has shifted a bit more dramatically over the years. People’s work attire has become much more casual – it’s a trend that started with the dot com era and has continued full throttle. But, you do want to put forward your best impression on an interview and that should include being appropriately dressed for the position with an eye for the company culture. If you are working with a recruiter, just ask them what would be appropriate. If you are not working with a recruiter, here are a few tips that might help:
- Check out the company website
You’ve done your research to get the interview, so take a look at the company website and the social media pages. What are people wearing on a day-to-day basis to the office? Take that apparel queue and bump it up a notch or two. Remember, it’s an interview and you’re not part of the team yet.
LinkedIn is the treasure chest of gold when it comes to learning about the people you’ll be meeting on an interview. Be sure to review their profiles prior to your interview and take a look at what they are wearing. This might give you a better idea of what to wear.
- Remember the basics
If you’re not at that executive level yet, and still a bit nervous about making a final apparel selection, remember that wearing a contemporary suit is usually a solid bet. A majority of hiring managers that I have worked with usually expect candidates to be dressed a bit more formally than current employees. And, dressing more informally might signal a lack of serious intent about the job opening. Personally, I’ve received comments about past candidates under-dressing for an interview, but never a complaint about overdressing.
Now that you’ve decided what to wear, make sure it’s clean, pressed and that you are looking your best. And remember, be sincere, show interest and be on time.
Good luck and let your swagger show!