Above all, a job interview is a first impression. While it’s important to look your best, there’s some debate surrounding the dress code for interviews and how to make that excellent first impression. In the past, a suit and tie or heels may have been the norm. Now, as companies evolve and the workplace has largely become more casual, what does that mean for potential hires?
Although you should always look tidy, clean, and put-together, consider the different factors that might influence your look like industry standards, location, and the actual position. A well-thought-out, appropriate outfit can help a hiring manager to envision you as part of their team, so it’s important to do select attire that is comfortable for you and reflects the job you’re hoping to land.
Variation by Industry
When it comes to industry standards, do your research and see if you can get an idea of what people at a certain company usually wear to work. Is it more business casual or more stylized, more functional or more comfortable? If you’re unsure of what to wear for an interview with a certain company, consider looking up some of the employees or managers on LinkedIn. Or, browse the company website to see if there are official employee portraits. While this might not necessarily reflect what these employees regularly wear to the office, it can still give you a ballpark idea.
Take the tech industry for example–you wouldn’t necessarily show up to a tech interview in a suit. If everyone else in the office or on zoom is usually dressed in t-shirts, you might feel a bit overdressed and out of place with a tie on. This doesn’t mean you should show up to an interview in your oldest pair of jeans, but consider a smart casual look. A pair of chinos and a sweater or button-up might be more appropriate in this setting than a full suit or heels.
In Person vs. On Zoom
These days, we’re also faced with the problem of attire for an in-person vs. a video-call interview. While you need to plan for a complete outfit for an on-site interview, you really only need to plan for the waist upwards for a zoom call or video interview. For some folks, it might feel more empowering to put on an entire outfit with nice shoes, even for a zoom. However, if it’s more comfortable for you, it’s fine to wear more casual bottoms and a smart top.
Do note, in this digital era, part of your job interview attire on zoom is your backdrop. It would look strange if you had on a pearl necklace and a nice blazer, but the room was a complete mess or cluttered. Consider that you are presenting not just yourself, but your space to interviewers on a video call.
Ultimately, an outfit isn’t the most important part of the interview process, but it is an important tool in your arsenal that can help you to feel confident and capable. Do your best to figure out the standard attire for a position and then make it your own.