An interview dress code is a guide to creating a stellar first impression, which is inarguably an essential requirement to crack a job interview.
Whether it is your speech, the confidence with which you respond or your intelligence, you have to be really careful not to disappoint the interviewer.
However, you also need to remember that your physical appearance also creates a strong impression, and it will definitely vote for or against you before you can even open your mouth.
Why The Interview Dress Code Matters
One of the skills of business etiquette that hiring managers expect candidates to know is how to dress for job interviews.
You need to know the interview dress code of the organization where you are interviewing for a job if you want to meet the expectations of the hiring managers.
Yes! You read that right.
The hiring managers will definitely expect you to follow a certain interview dress code, failing which, you may not get that job, even if your qualifications are enough to get you hired.
An applicant for a career services director at Chicago University wore a Madras tie as a belt and a patterned cotton hat to the interview. By far, this has been regarded as the worst outfit someone wore to an interview.
But, why is it so important to know what to wear to an interview? Do physical appearances carry that much impact? Yes! They do.
First impressions matter, but it is not just your physical appearance that makes an impact. It is your sense of professionalism and your attitude, which are all reflected in what you wear to a job interview.
Your attire will also give the hiring manager an idea about your understanding of the organisations’ culture and whether or not you respect it.
If you dress casually for an interview, it will reek of arrogance and your unwillingness to follow a code of conduct. You don’t want that, do you?
According to a survey by Careerbuilder.com, 41% of employers state that people who dress better or more professionally tend to be promoted more often than others in their organization.
Hiring managers have come across candidates with dirty fingernails, T-shirts with offensive prints on them, micro mini-skirts, and some even arriving for an interview with bare feet. These things reflect a casual personality, a red flag to most recruiters.
If you do not even care about your interview clothes and the way you present yourself, how can an organisation expect sincerity, compliance and dedication from you? They won’t, and that is the harsh truth.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Job Interview Outfits
You don’t need to consult a fashion designer for your interview outfit, but you have to make sure to avoid the following fashion mistakes while attending an interview:
Keep your backpack at home
Refrain from carrying a backpack or a fanny pack to an interview. A smart-looking briefcase and a folder with your required documents will set the impression just right.
Some image consultants also suggest women don’t carry their purse or mobile in their hands.
Don’t carry travel gear and accessories
Keep your travel gear and accessories like headphones, and sunshades inside the briefcase. Don’t keep your headphones hanging around your neck or your shades on top of your head, as it comes across as unprofessional.
Check the length of your skirt
Women should also be equally careful about what they wear to the interview. If you prefer to don a skirt, make sure it is not above knee length and is able to cover your thighs properly.
You should also be careful about the way you sit to minimise skin show. You can look up job interview outfits for ladies to get an idea about the accepted interview dress code.
Choose the right tie or scarf
If you wish to buy a tie or scarf to wear to the interview, ensure that it is silk and at least 3 and a quarter inch wide with decent patterns.
Pick red or burgundy for colours for the tie, as they look the most professional and go easily with any outfit.
Scarves can be any colour as long as they are silk and not gaudy or have sequin work on them.
Avoid casuals and over-the-top makeup
Avoid wearing graffiti tees, slinky shirts, tight pants and cut off t-shirts at home to the interview, says Careerbuilder.com.
A woman should also ensure that she does not shift the focus of the interviewer from her qualifications and attitude to her over-the-top makeup or flashy outfits.
If you really want to apply makeup, it’s best to opt for nude shades and avoid bold lipsticks and dark kohl.
Avoid skin show
Tank tops ripped jeans or skimpy sundresses are a big no-no as interview dresses for ladies.
It is best if you can keep some formal interview suits in your wardrobe for such occasions. You will get ample ones online, which are inexpensive but professional in the truest sense of the word.
Wear minimal jewellery
It is better if men can avoid wearing any kind of jewellery to the interview, except wedding rings. Women should also keep their jewellery to a minimum too.
Experts also advise not to wear tattoos or rings and studs through body piercings, if you have them already before you attend the interview.
Interview dress tips for women not only focus on the interview clothes women should wear but also their overall appearance in terms of trimmed nails, properly combed and tied hairdo, clean and pressed outfit and subtle fragrances.
Be wary of sweat patches and pick the right outfit material to brace the summer heat without compromising on your appearance.
Wear the right shoes
It is best to wear formal leather shoes for an interview. Ladies should refrain from wearing too high heels and men must avoid wearing crocs or sneakers to the interview.
Men should also ensure that their shoes match their socks and wear socks long enough to hide their feet as they sit.
The Best Job Interview Outfits for Ladies
While it is easier for men to choose a formal dress for an interview, women tend to get confused, because of the variety of clothing in their wardrobe.
If you’re stumped for what to wear or unsure about how to dress for an interview, here are some go-to interview outfits that can’t go wrong:
Navy blue is a smart choice of colour when it comes to the interview dress code for female professionals.
Couple your navy blue blazer with a professional white shirt and a pair of navy blue trousers. Top it off with a pair of pearl stud earrings, and you are good to go.
In India, the summers can be quite a nuisance and often ruin your interview outfit, so you have to be really careful about the material you wear.
If you want to play safe, choose cotton kurtas coupled with leggings or palazzo pants to create a sophisticated impression. However, make sure that your palazzos are formal enough to wear to interviews.
If you prefer to wear a casual salwar suit to the interview, keep your dupatta at home. They are generally quite distracting and keep falling off your shoulders.
Your interviewer may not be able to focus on what you are saying if you keep fumbling with your dress.
Indian Formal Wear or Western Clothes?
Both are considered the same in the case of men, but for women, both are widely different. Before your interview, look up the company’s culture on the internet before you decide on a formal dress for the interview.
That way you will be more confident about your interview appearance and not make any mistakes. The idea of formals may differ from one company to the other.
While some may accept saris, properly pleated and pinned, as formal wear, some may not even consider kurtas and Indian wear as formals. If you have any doubt, feel free to ask the HR department about their interview dress code, if any.
Make sure you look professional so that the interviewer pays attention to what you’re saying and does not get distracted by what you’re wearing.
For interview preparation materials that will help you warmly and confidently answer the tricky behavioural interview questions you can expect from HR, check out the Free Job Interview Email course
We wish you all the best for your interview.
About the author:
Priya Florence Shah is the publisher of Naaree.com and offers career coaching services for work-from-home moms. Sign up for her Free Job Interview Email course and learn secret interview strategies that only elite job applicants know about.
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