Have a job interview coming up? If so, you might be thinking:
- Should I wear a suit or dress more casually?
- How do I dress for a video interview?
- What does everyone else in the company wear?
It’s important to get these answers right. The second you walk in that interview door, before you even say one word, they are analyzing everything they see and hear subconsciously and consciously. How you look, how you talk, your eye contact, your posture, your handshake, and more.
All of these factors signal to them as to whether or not you are competent, whether or not you are a top-performer, and how valuable you are.
The truth is, hiring anyone is a risk. The first time your interviewer meets you, they will be trying to answer fundamental questions like:
- Can they do the job, and can they do it well?
- Are they interested and motivated for the position?
- Do I like this person? Will they fit into the culture of the company? Will they take supervision?
And how you answer their interview questions isn’t the only way they determine this. Hiring decisions are also driven by emotion, not logic alone. Therefore, the more competent you appear physically, the more positively they will think of you.
Should You Wear a Tie?
Someone I know was once interviewing for a Sales position at a supercomputing company. He really really wanted this job and when thinking about what to wear to his interviews, he studied how his coworkers and boss dressed on a typical work-day.
“Everyone was always business casual. Like slacks with golf shirts,” he said. So not wanting to over-dress in his interviews, he decided to ditch the tie for a less formal look.
Wearing a tie was a requirement to some of his interviewer’s standards. He unfortunately didn’t get the job. When he asked for feedback on why, the hiring manager said among other things. “Look Jon, this isn’t why you didn’t get the job, but I think it’s important for you to know: Don’t ever not wear a tie in an interview again.”
That was a hard lesson for him to learn. It might have not been a major factor that cost him the job, but it had an effect on his perceived competence no doubt. To his interviewers, not wearing a tie was a low competence signal.
So should you wear a tie?
How to Determine What To Wear For Any Job Interview
There are so many different work cultures with different opinions on how you should dress in an interview. Therefore, I would be wrong in some cases to suggest any certain degree of formality.
The answer really is industry, company and job specific. But there is one piece of advice that will never be wrong:
Be very careful to not base what is appropriate to wear to your interview on the day-to-day dress culture of the company. Fact is, you’re not part of the company, yet! You’re a candidate that is being compared to every other candidate.
Have you ever been invited to a party where you weren’t certain how much to dress up? So what do you do? You text your friend, “Hey, what are you wearing?”
Your friend: “Jeans and a T-shirt, you?”
You: “Me too!”
And now you can arrive at the party confident that you’re not going to walk in the door and be the only person wearing jeans and a T-shirt while everyone else is formal. Simple.
So why leave dressing correctly in your job interview up for possible embarrassment? Just ask the recruiter during your initial phone screen or the hiring manager directly before your interview.
Asking might make them think you really care about getting this job, which I hope you do! You can say:
Hey NAME, I’m really excited about this position and I want to be sure that I’m dressed appropriately for my interviews. I was planning to wear a suit and a tie, and I wanted to find out from you if that’s appropriate or if dressing less formal is actually more desired. What do you think?
How to Dress in a Video Interview
Dressing for a video interview is completely different than an in-person interview. There are certain do’s and don’ts about how you should dress to look good on camera and not in a manner that is distracting. Here are some tips to make a great first impression through video.
First, patterned clothing can create annoying blur effects on video. Therefore, refrain from wearing bold stripes, polka dots, and other busy patterns. Instead, choose solid colors and muted patterns when on camera.
Certain colors should also be avoided as well, such as neons and other bright colors. Wearing all white can also be too visually overwhelming and “blind” the viewer, while wearing all black, even though black is slimming, can possibly boost the contrast. Wearing neutral tones like grays or light pastels won’t have this effect.
If you want examples, Google images for “What News Anchors Wear”, and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. That’s because news-casters know very well what looks good on camera and what looks distracting.
Of course these are general rules and rules can be broken. Whatever you’re thinking of wearing, see how it looks on your computer’s camera first before joining your live video interview.
Dressing correctly for your interviews can affect hiring decisions and therefore should be researched thoroughly. Every hiring manager will have a different opinion on what’s appropriate, so the best thing you can do is ask them. Don’t guess or make assumptions based on what you’ve read or heard from anyone else. And be sure to not wear anything distracting in your video interviews. You want the hiring manager’s attention to be solely focused on your answers to their questions and nothing else.
Your Turn: What are you planning to wear to your next interview and Why?