alg-job-fair-line-jpgIn today’s office environment, it is increasingly common to see office managers abiding a lax dress policy, employees taking advantage of the right to wear polo shirts or even blue jeans as opposed to the more formal attire of yesteryear. This makes many job applicants wonder: Are conventional dress standards still expected for the job interview itself?

This has become a muddy issue. You may apply for a company that you know for a fact has a loose, lax dress policy; the company may proudly advertise on its website that all of its employees wear jeans every day. If you feel totally comfortable arriving for an interview dressed casually, then by all means, go for it. But remember that you do so at some risk to yourself: Showing up underdressed for an interview can backfire big time.

Why Dress Still Matters

The need to dress appropriately—which, in most cases, means formally—still exists. Among hiring managers, the following perceptions are far from uncommon:

  • Wearing work attire makes a person more productive, more focused on accomplishing the tasks at hand.
  • True leaders/managers always need to dress better than the people they are leading/managing.
  • Casual dress goes hand-in-hand with a lackadaisical attitude about work.

Minding Your Appearance

Given that these attitudes still exist—whether rightly or wrongly—it is important for interviewees to put some thought into their dress. It’s not just dress, though, but overall appearance.

So, for men, some basic pointers and reminders might include:

  • Make sure your hair is well-groomed.
  • Arrive either clean-shaven or with a well-manicured beard—not a scruffy or shaggy look.
  • Clean your fingernails!
  • Wear a business suit that fits you well. Make sure the suit is neatly pressed/wrinkle-free.
  • If you do not have a suit, get one—but until you do, nice slacks, a nice shirt, and a tie can suffice.

And, for ladies:

  • Again, pay attention to grooming—including hair, fingernails, and makeup.
  • Business suits are a great choice for projecting confidence and professionalism.
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum.
  • Make sure perfume isn’t overpowering.

A final thought: Wear a watch to your interview—because there is no better way to give the impression that you care about making good use of your time!

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