This is the time of year when many of us think about where we are in life, what we have accomplished, or what and whom we are thankful and what we may want to do differently. As the end of the year approaches some of you might be thinking about making a career or job change. While you are updating your resume, considering your goals, writing down your “pros and cons” to make the best choices possible, you should also consider your wardrobe, since how you look when you first walk through that interviewer’s door will make a lasting and instant impression!

Of course, how you dress won’t matter if you don’t attend to your personal hygiene, so be sure you head out to that interview freshly groomed, showered and with freshly brushed teeth and a clean tongue for that first smile!

Do Your Homework!

Since you don’t want to over- or under-dress, be sure you understand the culture and environment of the company AND position for which you are applying! There are a few ways you can do this. First, if you know someone who works there, just ask. Second, you could visit the office/location. Do this at the beginning or end of the day and you should be able to discern employees from visitors. Finally, since most companies now have websites, check them out online. A ton of companies LOVE taking and posting photos of happy employees going about their daily routines. That should give you some clues. If all else fails, just make an educated guess based upon the industry or job description.

Step It Up!

What does that mean? It is really a pretty simple rule of thumb. Once you have figured out what the dress code should be for a day on the job, step up that code by one level of formality for the interview: Thanks to The Art of Manliness for these awesome suggestions!

  • Work clothes: Best for a hands-on or skills interview, this outfit would include brown or blue work pants, a denim or chambray shirt (NEVER a T shirt, by the way) and leather shoes or work boots. Never wear this to an initial interview unless you have been advised that your skills will be tested, such as for construction, skilled labor, farm/ranch or factory positions. Step it up for the initial interview to:
  • Casual clothes: Not to be confused with sloppy, guys, you might be OK wearing pressed khakis, leather shoes and a fitted, tucked in and collared shirt (with or without tie) for a service industry type of position, such as behind the scenes customer service or a position where you will be outfitted (if hired) with a company logo shirt. Examples would be restaurant waitstaff or retail sales associate. If you aren’t sure, then Step it up for the initial interview to:
  • Business casual clothes: This is a great way to dress for many mid-level customer service positions, front-end service industry jobs, tech-center positions and the like. Best examples are a single color sport-jacket, button down shirt, tie, leather shoes (with a matching belt) and pressed slacks. If you are applying for a more traditional, professional position, such as one in the legal, consulting, educational, health or financial fields, then Step it up for the initial interview to:
  • Business dress clothes: This means suit and tie, guys. Close to formal or strict business dress where only a white shirt and dark suit will do because this is an interview for a high-powered executive position (pay attention to details if this is you, but this isn’t common), business dress means a suit and tie, solid color spread collar shirt, make sure your socks match your slacks, and that you may be ok wearing business casual once hired, but you know you have to make that professional first impression as you walk through the door.

Dress for Success!

Whether you are applying for a position as a factory worker or the dean of a college, as a farm worker or  teacher or waiter – always show pride in how you appear. Never belittle yourself based upon a job title. Remember that you want to be the very best at whatever you choose as a career and that your personal success is not measured by the amount of your paycheck but, rather, by how well you do your job and the pride you take in a job well done. And how you arrive at that first interview will tell any potential employer that you care about that position for which you have applied. So go ahead, Step It Up and go get’em!

A Guy's Guide to Dressing for a Job Interview