For those graduating college, it’s time to enter the terrifying land you’ve been warned about for the last four years—the real world. With getting a job comes going through interviews, and we can guarantee your sweats and yoga pants won’t do when meeting your potential new employer.
But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered for dressing the part to get the job. After all, every place of employment is different. You wouldn’t dress the same when applying for a job at lululemon as you would for a job at a law firm. Whether your potential career is on either end of the spectrum, you’re going to need to look the part. Here are some tips for interview attire, depending on the field you’re applying.
In general, creative industries will have a more relaxed and casual dress code but you should still look smart, clean and be covered. Even if you know that the employees wear jeans or sundresses to work, you should still dress one step higher to impress. Guys, iron your button-down, tuck it in and throw on a simple tie, but go ahead and keep the pants more casual. Well-fitting jeans or khakis will look sharp and professional with a nice belt and shoes. Ladies, pull a blazer on over a dress or wear a more casual shirt with a nice skirt. If you’re comfortable in heels, go for it, but they certainly aren’t mandatory. Interviewing for a creative position is also an opportunity to show your creative side, so feel free to express yourself with your clothes. However, make sure you still look appropriate. Just think about what your grandmother would say about your outfit.
If you’re interviewing for a corporate position, it’s safe to go with the traditional style of professional. For men, whip out your best pair of black slacks, a crisp button down shirt and a simple tie. Dress shoes and a matching belt should be worn and if you’re more comfortable with a suit jacket, it’s always best to dress up. For women, simple pumps with a heel between one and three inches are ideal, with either a nice dress or even slacks and a blouse. The key to not looking like a little kid in dress-up is making sure everything is tailored very well and fits you properly. This extra step, and cash, will go a long way. The more comfortable you feel in the clothes, the more confident and prepared for the position you’ll appear.
It’s always important to keep the company in mind when you’re dressing for an interview but especially if you anticipate the environment is more casual. Knowledge of the company is an invaluable tool when walking into an interview and if the interviewer sees that you understand their more relaxed atmosphere, they’ll be more likely to think you’re a great fit for the company. However, the adage “dress to impress” still rings true. Make sure that you’re polished and put together—everything is tailored to fit your body type. Guys, that means a tucked-in, button-down shirt, though you might be able to roll the sleeves. Ladies, avoid strapless and spaghetti strapped tops and keep the skirts or dresses of a modest length. Most important, make sure that you’re comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing.
With start-ups popping up everywhere you look, it’s easy to assume that all tech-based companies have a casual, stylish work atmosphere. However, not every technology company runs like the guys on “Silicon Valley.” Some of the more established, larger companies have a more traditional idea of work attire. Do your research about the history, size and mission of the company and use discretion. Also remember that while you want to stand out in the interviewer’s mind, you don’t want to seem outlandish or attention-seeking. Feel free to go a bit more casual with start-up interviews. Guys, go ahead and skip the tie and jacket, and ladies, you can keep your formal business suit in the closet for this interview. For the more established companies though, guys will want to wear a tie and ladies should wear their business heels.