Six questions to ask yourself when dressing for a job interview

Dressing for a job interview is hard, and nerve wracking. One way to make it easier is to try to learn about the company culture and dress to match it. And a good rule is to err on the side of formality, even when matching a culture that is jeans and sneakers. It’s better to be overly respectful then to look as though you’re not taking the job seriously.

Beyond that, here are six questions to ask yourself dressing for a job interview and choosing our outfit.

Is the colour appropriate? You usually want to play it safe for the interview and avoid dressing entirely in colours like hot pink and orange. It doesn’t have to all be black, blue, or brown, but you don’t want to come across as silly.

Does it fit? Does your outfit fit? Is it tight in the bum or pulling at the buttons around your belly? Are the pants or sleeves too short? Even a super nice outfit can make you look ridiculous if it doesn’t fit properly.

Can I sit in it? I have these really nice pants that look great when I am standing. When I sit, everything changes. They get tight in weird places, they bulge, they do not work. I can’t wear those pants and be taken seriously at the same time unless maybe I’m going to a meeting where we all stay standing. Make sure you can sit in it.

Does it look professional? Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you look like a professional. What kind of professional depends on the job you’re going for, but usually, professional attire is clothing that you can’t see up, down, or through. Can you see up it, down it, or through it? If so, you should probably change. And your shoes should be shoes that allow you to walk comfortably. Don’t wear shorts or flip flops. Ever. Use good judgement.

Does it make me memorable? While you want to look professional, you also want to stand out from the other candidates. This means you might want to try wearing one unique and/or colourful thing with your professional attire. Like a pocket square, interesting scarf, or pair of earrings. Bonus points if someone comments on it and you’ve got a story to go with it, like “Thanks. I got this in Rome when I was there to give a talk at a tech conference.”

Is it threadbare? Don’t wear clothing that is old and faded. Check for holes. This is commonly an issue with shoes, maybe because we have fewer of them. We wear nice, professional clothes then pair them with scuffed, worn out shoes. Don’t do that. Old, worn out clothes can send the message that you can’t afford new things, which means you don’t have money, which means you don’t make money, which means you’re not worth money, which means they should probably hire someone else, someone who is worth money. Sound unfair? It is. But it’s reality.

Does it inspire confidence? Confidence is the most important quality to hiring managers, and you want to inspire it with everything you do – and wear. You want the hiring manager to take one look at you and think “This is someone I can trust to do what I need them to do to make my life easier and improve my business operations. I will hire this person.” Can an outfit do that? Maybe not. But it can help.

Choose an outfit that is appropriate, that fits, that is comfortable and allows for freedom of movement, that looks professional, is a little bit memorable, and is not threadbare, and you’ll be much of the way there.

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