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How to dress for an interview

Provocative clothing and too many tattoos and piercings (and bad breath) can sink your chances.

By Karen Datko Dec 8, 2009 11:41AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


This article is part of Bargaineering Career Week 2009, a weeklong series focused on your career -- how to find a job, how to tailor your resume, how to find  job opportunities, and how to nail the interview.


First impressions count. No matter what people say or want to believe, people will judge you based on the way you look, what you’re wearing, and how you present yourself. That’s why it’s critically important to dress properly for a job interview.

Interviews are hard enough to get as it is. You don’t want your chances to be hurt simply because you’re wearing the wrong clothes.

Check ahead of time. Examine the clothes you’re going to wear at least two days ahead of your interview. You might realize that the suit you want to wear needs to be dry-cleaned or the pants no longer fit properly. You don’t want to discover a stain on your tie an hour before the interview. You want to find out with enough time to react.


Wear a suit. No one will fault you for wearing a suit to an interview, so if you have one or can borrow one, do so. If you’re ever in doubt, you should always dress on the conservative side. Don’t wear anything provocative and don’t wear anything flashy. You want your abilities and your accomplishments to shine, not your attire.

Do a drive-by. If you aren’t sure what you should wear and you don’t want to wear a suit unless you have to, drive by the company’s office. Take a look at what the employees are wearing and wear one step higher. If people are working in jeans and T-shirts, go business casual with a button-down shirt and khakis or slacks. If people are business casual, go in a full suit or put on a tie. When in doubt, wear a suit.


Look professional. Since I’m a guy, these “look professional” tips are going to be a little male-centric but the theme is the same -- look well-groomed and presentable. I think that having a neat and clean hairstyle is important, whether you’re a guy or a girl, and guys should make sure to be clean-shaven. You don’t want your suit to say professional but the five-o’clock shadow to say you’re too lazy to bring a razor to your face. Shower before your interview, clip your nails, and go easy on the perfumes, colognes, and aftershave.


Big don’ts

Whatever you do, don’t:

  • Chew gum. You can’t answer clearly if you have gum in your mouth.
  • Bring your cell phone. You don’t need it in the interview, so leave it in the car.
  • Drink coffee or soda beforehand. Coffee can give you bad breath; soda will make you burp.
  • Flaunt tattoos or wear excessive piercings. As I said earlier, let your accomplishments do the talking. People have preconceived notions about people with “too many” tattoos or piercings.

And good luck on that interview.


Related reading at Bargaineering:

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