Recently, when we set out to answer the age-old problem of what to wear to a job interview, we had no idea about the wealth of great information which would come our way from so many talented HR professionals, writers and style experts. In fact, we got so many great responses that we just couldn’t fit them all into one article. So, here for your entertainment and enlightenment, we bring you a second installment of great fashion tips to help you get ahead in the career world.
The white dress shirt is the most formal of all, so unless you are applying for a high-level position, it is not necessary to wear a white shirt. Take note that white shirts are too formal to wear with a brown suit or jacket, as these colors are for “country weekend” looks. White shirts are best worn with dark suits such as navy blue or dark grey. A black suit worn with a white shirt is tricky, unless you have a good eye. Sometimes it can look too slick or too sexy (a la Tom Ford). The best way to ensure that a suit looks professional is to wear it with a French blue shirt, because this color is very classy.
If you are applying for an entry to mid-level position, good choices are a French blue shirt or a blue and white striped one. Stripes with multiple colors or patterns are not as professional looking as those with white stripes and the “other” color. Your striped shirt can be a royal or deep purple shade, a deep shade of magenta or fuchsia, bold yellow and various shades of blue. Green is not a power color, nor is brown, so save those colors for non-business occasions.
Image consultant, The Image Architect
Interviewing is all about building a business relationship based on trust which will convince an employer to hire you. The basis of this relationship is based 7% on what you say, 38% on how you say it, and 55% on how you look. Therefore it is imperative to present yourself in a way to earn the respect and trust of the employer. Wear clothes that correspond to the industry you work in, are plain and simple, fit well, and fill you with confidence. Then sit back and let the rest happen naturally.
Owner & Chief Style Consultant, Image Granted, LLC
When interviewing, you don’t want to dress too far above or below your expected daily dress attire should you be hired. If you’re applying for a key management position, it’s absolutely appropriate to wear a suit, as that’s what you will be expected to wear on a regular basis if hired. If you’re applying for a mid-level or assistant position, it’s important for your dress to reflect your approach to the position – neat, organized, clean and professional. If you arrive for an interview overdressed, you may send your potential new boss an unintended message. Namely, you may be sending a message that s/he should not expect to see the person s/he’s interviewing show up should an offer be extended, or worse, it may send a message that as a job seeker, you don’t really understand the position for which you’re applying.
Author, Creating Job Security Resource Guide
Companies like Microsoft and Google don’t want to judge you for what you wear, but formal “business” attire will make you stand out – in a bad way. Wearing a jacket and tie is like wearing a giant sign that says, “I don’t fit in here.” After all, you can hardly play ping pong and foosball (the standard mid-day games) in a suit and tie.
One Apple candidate I spoke with wore a suit and tie, only to be interviewed by a guy in a polo shirt and jeans. The moment his interviewer said “we are very informal,” this candidate took off his tie. The suit may have shown some respect, but by dressing down a bit, he showed that he could fit into their culture. He got the job.
If you’re applying for a software development job, you can be even more informal; jeans and a t-shirt and polo shirt is fine (really!) – as long as your attire is work-place appropriate. I once interviewed a candidate at Google who was wearing a t-shirt that spelled “SEX” using various depictions of the human body. Someone who would embarrass himself like that in an interview is likely to be an even bigger embarrassment to the company if hired.
[Wear] a woven fabric shirt. Woven fabric is more stable than a knit–just as the wearer must communicate “stable.” A knit communicates malleable or easily manipulated, not good in serious business. Must have a collar. The collar lifts the look and frames the face for better communication. The straight lines of the collar communicate “alertness.” The diagonal lines communicate “action.” The collar points communicate “sharp.”
Shirt color in order of visual authority: white, blue, yellow for more formal business and black, gray for creative business. Layer the shirt with a “third layer” jacket to expand the visible body image boundaries, causing the body to appear somewhat larger, drawing more attention to the wearer while increasing apparent importance. Include a tie with the shirt if in formal business. The tie serves as an arrow directing attention up to the face for better communication. Stripes communicate more visual authority and action than geometrics, paisleys, or florals (the tie also draws attention inward for a more sliming visual effect).
Judith Rasband AICI CIM
Director, Conselle Institute of Image Management