Dressing For Interview Success

Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
Professional Resume Services

When you dress like a professional, you are likely to be treated as one, and that’s a good head start before saying a word.

The moment you set eyes on someone, your mind makes evaluations and judgments with lightning speed. Potential employers also make the same lightning-speed evaluations when you first meet at the beginning of a job interview. It’s a fair estimate that nine out of ten of today’s employers will reject an unsuitably dressed applicant without a second thought.
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The initial respect you receive at the interview will be in direct proportion to the image you project. The correct professional appearance won’t get you the job offer—but it will lend everything you say that much more credence and weight. Wearing a standard business uniform instantly communicates that you understand one of the paramount unwritten rules of professional life and that you have a confident self-image.

Employers rarely make overt statements about acceptable dress codes to their employees, much less to interviewees. Instead, there is a generally accepted but unspoken dictum that those who wish to succeed will dress appropriately, and those who don’t, won’t.

There are a few professions where on-the-job dress (as opposed to interview dress) is some- what less conservative than in the mainstream: Fashion, entertainment, and advertising are three examples. In these and a few other fields, there is a good deal of leeway with regard to personal expression in workplace attire. But for 95 percent of us, jobs and employers require a certain level of traditional professionalism in our wardrobes. While you need not dress like the chairman of the board (although that probably wouldn’t hurt), adopting “casual Friday” attire on the day of your interview is not in your best professional interests. For a job interview, it is generally accepted that you should dress one or two levels up from the job you are applying for, while remaining consistent with the type of occupation it is within. To maximize your career options over the long haul of a career you must aim to consistently meet or exceed these standards.

Your Interview advantage 
Your appearance tells people how you feel about yourself as an applicant, as well as how you feel about the interviewer, the company, and the interview process itself. By dressing professionally, you tell people that you understand the niceties of corporate life, and you send a subtle “reinforcing” message that you can, for example, be relied on to deal one-on-one with members of a company’s prized client base.

How you dress sends signals about:

• How seriously you take the occasion, and, by extension, how much respect you feel for your interviewers and all others whom you meet at the interviews.

• How well you understand the confidence a look of traditional professionalism gives clients, customers, peers, and superiors.

Yet no matter how important these concerns might be, they pale in comparison to the impact a sharp appearance can have on your own sense of self. When you know you have taken care of your appearance and that you look the best you can, you feel pride and confidence: Your posture is better, you smile more, and you feel more “in control” of your destiny. In turn, others will respond positively to the image of professionalism and self-confidence that you present. Portraying the correct image at an interview will give you a real edge over your competition. You can expect what you say to be strongly influenced in the mind of your interviewer by the way you present yourself. Appearances count.

The Look
The safest look for both men and women at interviews is traditional and conservative. Look at investing in a good-fitting, well-made suit. With your business clothes, quality matters far more than quantity; it’s better to have one good outfit than two mediocre ones. Your professional wardrobe is a long-term career asset, so add quality items, and over time the quantity will come.

The key for both sexes is to dress for the position you want, not the one you have. This means the upwardly mobile professional might need to invest in the clothes that project the desired image. The correct appearance alone probably won’t by itself get you a job offer, but it does go a long way toward winning the attention and respect you need to land the offer. When you know you look right, you can stop worrying about the impression your clothes are making and concentrate on communicating your message.


Every interview and every interviewer is different, so it isn’t possible to set down rigid guide-
lines for exactly what to wear in any given situation. However, these common sense guidelines will ensure you are perceived as someone savvy, practical, competent, reliable, and professional. 



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Martin Yate
Copyright 2013
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