Dressing appropriately for a job interview has always been important. But in a down economy and a competitive job market, it's more important than ever. Like it or not, what you wear and how you wear it is an important nonverbal communicator about who you are. Dressing professionally can make or break your chances of getting a job.
Fortunately, as with so much in life, it doesn't take much effort to stand out from the crowd. Following a few simple steps makes dressing properly for your job interview a snap.
How you dress for a job interview depends on a number of factors, including the position itself. Dressing too formally can send the wrong message, as can dressing too informally. Tailor your clothing to match the position to which you're applying. For example, a job in finance requires a dark suit and conservative shoes. A smart sport coat and slacks may be more appropriate for a job in a creative field like graphic design or writing. An entry level position or a job in the service industry won't usually require a jacket; usually a well-fitting polo and slacks will be enough.
Remember the Details
It's been said that the last things you put on are the first things that get noticed. This is certainly true during the application process. When considering how to dress for a job interview, pay attention to your tie, your shoes, and your belt. Make sure your belt and your shoes match smartly, and remember that black is more conservative and therefore more correct for traditional jobs. For less formal interviews, brown shoes may be more appropriate. Never wear sneakers, as an interviewer may assume you are not taking the application process seriously.
If you are applying to a job in finance, sales, or management, wearing a tie is appropriate. Choose a traditionally patterned tie in quiet colors. Novelty ties are never appropriate. It's hard to miss with an understated stripe tie.
The Importance of Grooming
Good grooming is an important part of how to dress for a job interview. Too often, applicants will forget that their personal hygiene is at least as important as their clothing. Fortunately, as a guy, looking good and clean takes almost no time at all.
Make sure your hair is clean and neatly groomed. For many jobs, you might need to cut your hair, trim your sideburns, and shave. If you wear a beard, make sure it's neat and clean.
Additionally, it's important to keep your nails trimmed and cleaned. Potential employers will notice your fingernails, especially when they're shaking your hand. Fingernails are the kind of thing nobody ever notices unless they're gross. You don't have to get a manicure. Just make sure that your nails are clean.
One Last Thing: Confidence!
The great thing about dressing well is the feeling of self-confidence that goes with it. Employers are looking for confident go-getters, and with a professional outfit, tasteful accessories, and a clean-cut appearance, that will be you. Remember to smile, be polite, and be confident in yourself, and you're sure to be noticed!