Thursday, April 15, 2010

There are many ways to dress for success!

Recently we sent out our monthly enews on what to wear to an interview. We stated that it is ALWAYS appropriate to wear a suit. I stand by that assertion. Perhaps we should have clarified that the type of suit, the color of suit, the style of suit, the fashion of the suit; that all of those choices are dependent upon the industry. Of course what one candidate wears to an interview for a creative position will differ greatly from what another candidate wears to an accounting interview at a bank. Depending on the organization culture, styles may differ within the same industry. Ultimately, the goal is for you as a job seeker or graduate school candidate to feel comfortable and confident; looking your best. Choose attire that allows you to forget about how you look (knowing you look great) and focus on selling yourself and your skills to potential employers.

You cannot go wrong in a suit.

Because I have been advising students for over 17 years I wondered if my advice was out-of-date. So I contacted Lindsey Pollak, Gen Y Career and Workplace Expert, and here is what she had to say:

"In the vast majority of interview situations, a suit is the appropriate option. In conservative industries (e.g., law, finance, accounting), it is the only option. If you think you are interviewing at an organization where a suit might not be required (e.g., a surfwear start-up or a hip hop record label), you must find out for sure. This means reaching out to anyone you can find in that company or industry and asking what you should wear (ask friends and family, reach out on LinkedIn, anonymously call the HR department where you’re interviewing, etc.). If the clear advice is to wear something other than a suit, then you can safely wear something else. The bottom line: Never wing it. Find out for sure what’s appropriate. Never lose an opportunity because of your outfit."

Her blog is

We also contacted one of our employer advisory board members, Wade Krogwold of Direct Supply, who shared this:

"As a recruiter at a company that does not have a dress code, we have people that wear everything from shorts and a t-shirt to a suit and tie. But for interviews, I recommend that students dress professionally. Wearing professional attire reflects two things – you are serious about making the transition from college to your career, and you realize you will be making an important decision. Thus, appropriate attire for most interviews will entail suiting up. There are exceptions to that based on the profession you are going into; for example, creative talent roles like graphic, fashion or interior design, and retail roles (corporate and consumer) will look at your attire as an indication of your skills and ‘fit’ for the role.

However, it is better to err on the side of wearing conservative, professional attire. And instead of spending an exorbitant amount of time on what you are going to wear, spend it on preparing examples that illustrate when you have completed similar tasks and successfully used the skills they are seeking. I am impressed by a candidate that can articulate why they are a match for the role and can share examples that reinforce that match. At the end of the interview you want people to remember you for your skills, talents and passion – not the awesome red shoes you paired with your outfit."

Here are some examples of traditional and less-formal interviewing attire:

Happy Interviewing! Laura

1 comment:

  1. When I wrote the blog "Campus fashion advice that's steering you wrong," I knew it would stir up a little fashion chatter! I think this post gives much more detailed, in-depth advice on interview attire than what was previously available through CSC. You do great work helping students land jobs in all sorts of industries. I appreciate your response to my fashion challenges. Great job!