What to Wear for a Job Interview

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Wait, ignore that; on a job interview, you will be judged by your cover — or in this case, the clothes you’re wearing. Your look is the first thing a hiring manager will notice about you. He or she will see what you’re wearing before you even have a chance to say hello. This now raises the question, what should you wear for a job interview?

According to Ryan Kahn, MTV’s Hired career coach and founder of The Hired Group, “It’s all about understanding the company culture.” We are no longer in an age where there’s one simple dress code. Your attire depends on the organization itself, as well as the career. For instance, if you’re applying for a job in the fashion world, you will be dressing on a different level than those who are at a start-up. To make life easy, I’ve broken everything down into five categories.

1. The Corporate World: Not Client Based

Business Jobs such as Finance and Accounting

Here is where we still see the black pencil skirt, white button-down blouse, and black blazer for women. For men, it’s black pants, white tucked in shirt, sober colored tie, and black jacket. Women, heels should not be too high, and they should also be plain black. Men wear leather black shoes that’ll compliment the suit. Here’s a key-tip for interviewing for this position: you can never go wrong with black!

2. The Corporate World: Client Based

Law firms, News Reporting, Sales, Marketing, Public Relations, etc.

In a position like this, you are not merely sitting in a cube. Instead you are out there interacting with people who you need to be creating a relationship with. You’re not going to create this relationship by looking like a corporate robot. Here both men and women should still be conservative by staying away from patterns or bright colors, however can play around with more sober color such as gray, brown, navy, olive, etc. Women are also able to sub a skirt and blouse for a dress here. Shoes should still be as above.

3. The Corporate World: Fashion

Every aspect of fashion including fashion marketing, fashion PR, Buyer, Designer, Sales

The first thing anyone thinks of when they hear fashion world is The Devil Meets Prada, and unfortunately in a lot of cases this can still be the reality. Your outfit needs to be 100% perfect. You want to be trendy, and you want to be following what’s currently in. A great tip from style expert Jennifer Chan is to pair one business-like item (see above) with a more fun piece such as a great belt or blouse. Additionally, both men and women should only have one fun statement piece. Choose wise between your pumps and your jewelry girls! Overkill is not welcome.

4. Business Casual

Where most of today’s jobs fall (along with jobs in the nonprofit sector)

Don’t let the word casual fool you, you will still be dressing up. Think of business casual as the girl who tried to rebel in high school, but never fully succeeded. Females may still wear a skirt or dress, however tailored pants are also acceptable. Please don’t start breaking out your skinny jeans, but yes you can have a more form fitting pant, assuming it’s paired correctly with a blouse and/or blazer. Blazers are no longer a necessity. That applies to you as well men! You may wear a button down and slacks.

5. The Start-Up

A whole new entity, covering many different fields, including a lot of tech companies

You don’t want to walk into an office where everyone’s in jeans and a t-shirt wearing a tailored suit. However, you also don’t want to walk into an office for an interview in jeans and a t-shirt. What’s a happy medium? Ladies, a casual dress or non-blue jeans such as black or olive is appropriate with a nice shirt. Additionally, you don’t need to wear pumps! Wear those flats or booties. Men, dark jeans apply for you as well. Pair it with a button down or sweater. Just please promise me you’ll never wear sneakers.

Dress for the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have

Your clothing will not only show the hiring manager that you have a knowledge of company culture, but that you also have a level of respect for all those working there. Invest in classic clothing that you can dress-up or down. Take advantage when stores like Macy’s have their sales, as I’ve found Calvin Klein pieces there for great prices. And if you need someone to go shopping with, call me.