Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What Not to Wear- Job Interview Edition - Part I - Men's Suits

Dressing appropriately for a job interview is a difficult thing; many people are not used to wearing formal business attire and are uncomfortable putting together an outfit for an interview. Because different industries have different dress standards, you may not know how formal or casual you should dress for the interview.

I believe that you should always play it safe when applying to any job and dress in standard business attire, even if it's for a company that is known for their casual workplace dress. You want your attire to convey professionalism, seriousness and competence, and the best way to give that impression is to wear a flattering suit with appropriate accessories. Countless studies have shown that professional appearance plays a key factor in whether a person is hired, so make sure that you're not letting a poor appearance keep you from getting the job you want.

So basically, going business formal is the best bet 99% (or more) of the time. Although most companies these days have a business casual dress code, interviewers are likely to expect a suit. Conversely, if you walk into an interview and are less dressed than your interviewer, you've likely sabotaged your chances right there. So, stick with a suit for the first round.

Today's post willl deal with men's attire, and tomorrow I'll cover men's accessories and grooming for interviews. Later in the week, I'll talk about what women should and shouldn't wear at an interview.

The Suit:
Wear a matching suit in navy, gray or black. Navy or gray are the safest colors, as black can sometimes appear too flashy. Pinstripes are ok, but you're better off just sticking to solid colors. Make sure that it is fairly conservative and that it fits you well (you can take it to a tailor for a professional opinion).

Pair it with a white or light blue dress shirt. There are plenty of other viable dress shirt colors for a day at the office, but unless you're interviewing for a job in the fashion or marketing industry, there's no reason to deviate from safe colors.

Wear a tie that compliments the suit but strongly contrasts with the color of the shirt. Make sure the print is subtle, or it will be distracting. For ideas about color combinations, check out the websites of well-known stores like Brooks Brothers and Nordstrom.

For detailed instructions on how to tie a tie, check this out.

If you doubt your ability to match your outfit, you're not alone. Go to the men's department of a nicer department store like Nordstrom or Lord and Taylor or a specialty suit store and bring your suit. A salesperson will help you find a shirt and tie that match. People do this all the time, so don't feel embarrassed. And if you don't trust the judgment of the salesperson helping you, don't feel obligated to buy what they suggest.

For more information about suits, check out these articles from Wikipedia and GQ.

Check back tomorrow for Part II of What Not to Wear- Job Interview Edition.

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