You might be the most talented, experienced, and brilliant applicant your potential employer has ever met, but there’s a chance those factors won’t be enough to land your dream job. Even if you’re perfectly qualified for a position and nail every interview question, you might not get the job if you’re not dressed right for the occasion.
Don’t believe me? According to one study, 37% of bosses said they decided not to hire an applicant based on the way he or she dressed. Meanwhile, 65% of hiring managers say that clothes can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates.
The way you dress says a lot about your personality, and even if an interviewer doesn’t rule you out based on your wardrobe, he or she might still have reservations about hiring you because of what you wear.
To get the hiring manager’s seal of approval, consider these tips when choosing your interview outfit:
1. Choose a Solid Color That Isn’t Distracting
In any interview, you want the hiring manager to focus on you, not on your pink paisley shirt. Instead of busy patterns, choose solid colors that reflect your personality but aren’t too loud or too dull.
Red, for instance, can overpower an interviewer. I once interviewed a woman wearing all red, and she looked beautiful and had great energy. Unfortunately, I was distracted by her outfit, and I feared she might be too aggressive for our company. Instead of red or orange, stick to standard business colors, and add accents (such as on a scarf or tie) in brighter hues.
Black is a popular choice for interview attire because it’s a commanding color that shows authority, but it can also suggest drama. Dark blue is a better option because it makes you seem calm, controlled, trustworthy, and secure. Gray also works great. It conveys confidence and sophistication and won’t distract the interviewer.
2. Invest in a Bespoke Suit
I can’t stress enough the importance of wearing a suit that fits you correctly. A bespoke suit will always give a better impression than a ready-to-wear suit. I once had an interviewee come in wearing a suit that was far too large for him, and my first thought was, “Are you wearing your father’s suit?”
Of course, the size of his suit said nothing about his qualification for the job, but it gave me the impression that he lacked an eye for detail. It seemed as if he had been unaware of the interview until that morning, and he had just rolled out of bed and put on the first thing he found in the closet.
When choosing a suit, remember that shoulder pads should end at the shoulders, the jacket should fit close to your body, and the sleeves must end where your thumbs meet your wrists. For women, pants that are too tight and pucker in the front are a big no-no.
My advice is to invest in a tailor-made wool suit with two buttons that will allow you to walk into your interview exuding confidence.
3. Show Sophistication With ‘Smart Casual’ Style
If the company you’re interviewing with requests that you adhere to its “smart casual” dress code, you can get away with ditching the formal suit for the interview.
A jacket or blazer over a polo or collared dress shirt can work fine in some situations. Pair that with trousers made of corduroy, twill, moleskin, wool, cotton, or linen, and you’ll have a perfectly presentable look.
Women can get away with a decent skirt or a pair of trousers, but avoid flashy fabrics such as satin, lace, or chiffon. And even if the company has a relaxed dress code, avoid flashy costume jewelry.
4. Play It Safe With Ink, Piercings, and Facial Hair
Although nearly 40% of people ages 18 to 29 have a tattoo, one survey found that many employers still have unfavorable views of inked individuals. However, this depends a lot on the employer’s age, the industry you’re in, and company policy.
I once interviewed someone who had tattoos visible on his wrist and forearm, but that didn’t stop me from hiring him because he was brilliant.
However, if you’re unsure of the company’s policy, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take out facial piercings, and cover up tattoos until you know the lay of the land. When it comes to facial hair, keep it trimmed and clean. An unkempt beard screams “slacker.”
5. Pay Attention to the Details
A polished appearance immediately speaks to your attention to detail. For example, when I interview someone, I always note if his or her shoes are polished. A good shine indicates dedication to success and presentation. Make sure your clothes are free of wrinkles, and don’t forget the lint roller if you have pets.
No matter where you’re interviewing, the old adage still holds true – dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Also make sure you’re wearing something that makes you feel confident and comfortable. Don’t buy an outlandish outfit to make a statement if that’s not your style.
Your choice of clothing might seem like a small factor in the larger scheme of landing a job, but making a winning impression with your wardrobe is more important than you think. It’s also a factor that’s completely within your control, so why wouldn’t you do everything you can to dress the part? Once you have the job, you can let your skills do the talking.