How to dress for an interview

How to dress appropriately for any job interview for both men and women.

You've mastered the application, cover letter, and resume and now you've landed an interview. You've researched possible interview questions, you've researched the company, you're as ready as you can be, right? As much as credentials, education, and intelligent communication skills matter - you could be doomed if you make a negative first impression. And the very first impression a potential employer forms is based on sight. Before you even have a chance to open your mouth he's formed an opinion based entirely on your appearance. So, dressing appropriately for the interview is extremely important.

Your first step is to take a look around you. What are other people in your desired field of employment wearing? What are the top managers or executives wearing? If at all possible, make a pre-interview visit to the company where you'll be interviewing. Observe how everyone is dressed. You'll want to dress a step above that.

Of course, if the company you'll be interviewing with is extremely casual and everyone wears jeans and sandals to work, you don't want to show up in your three-piece suit. Their first impression might be that you don't fit in. But you will still want to dress professionally to show respect.

For men, this means at the very least a button-down dress shirt, neatly ironed slacks, and dress shoes. You're attire should fit well. It should complement your body type. And the colors should complement your own, without being flashy. Ask a lady friend for some help if you're not sure. Even if you're dressing for an interview as a busboy in a restaurant, you want to make a professional impression. You want to show respect for the company and your interviewer and the best way is to appear as if you take this interview very seriously.

If the other men at your desired job site are wearing button-down shirts and slacks, you will want to take it one step further and add a tie and possibly a blazer to your outfit. Mixing a dark blazer with lighter colored pants can help make the suit and tie look more casual. By all means, if ties are commonplace at the company, bring out the three-piece suit you reserve for weddings and funerals and polish those wingtips!

Now, for the ladies, the point here is to impress the boss with your professionalism, not your body. Unfortunately, we all know that a good pair of legs will get you farther than an honors diploma at some companies. But this is not the time for lace-enhanced cleavage and your most daring mini skirt, unless of course you're making an offer you intend to hold up after you've been hired. That aside, you do want to dress in way that shows you appreciate good fashion and know how to make the most of your looks.

If the workplace where you are interviewing is casual, you might consider wearing a tailored blouse with dress pants or a skirt and low-heeled dress shoes. When the atmosphere is more business like - you'll never fail with a black pantsuit or skirt accented with a pretty blouse. This is not the time to wear your Easter dress. You want to be taken seriously. Dark colors and conservative styles usually work best. Professional clothes for women have come a long way in the last few years. A pantsuit doesn't need to look frumpy. Look for "career wear" made from quality fabrics with good tailoring. And be sure to wear your good jewelry, conservative not flashy pieces.

The objective is to look as if you're capable, confident, and deserving of this job, maybe even a promotion!

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