I’d like to talk to you about the fact that professional dress when on an interview is a must! Even for interns, no exceptions. (Heck especially for interns.) If you want to impress someone, you should show up professionally attired. Period, end of story. Well, not literally—I actually have a bit more to say.
While speaking to people around the country, I keep hearing that people still show up to interviews dressed unprofessionally. I just don’t get it. I consider that just one of the real simple and basic components to interviewing. I am not talking about interviewing to be an underwear model, and then professional dress might be defined a little differently. In that case, you still probably show up in some clothing prior to modeling underwear. But I digress.
Fact is, if you want to be a step up from your competition you need to show up and present the right image. Most people don’t take off points for dressing too well, unless you are Will Farrell in “Step Brothers,” and show up a tuxedo with sneakers.
When speaking to youth and adults around the United States, I express how important it is to own a decent, conservative suit to wear for job interviews and other occasions. By decent, I mean a suit without holes, missing buttons, or stains on it. This suit doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars. You can find suit options at your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or thrift store. Women also need to dress professionally, in which suit options can include pants or a skirt. None of these options should be too revealing—this goes for the ladies and men out there. No one needs to see your flesh besides your neck, face, ears, hands, wrists, and possibly the knee and below for women. For women specifically, there is a non-profit called Dress for Success, which offers women assistance with professional dress for the job search. I am a big fan of this organization’s mission. They also offer other employment process advice or services, so for women job seekers, this is something to check for in your local area.
My twin brother, Dan, has interviewed college students in New York City who showed up to interview in tee shirts, untucked button-ups, jeans, and such. He said he had a candidate in a sport coat, which he thought was great. But, then he took off the sport coat and he had a short sleeve button down shirt on. You really shouldn’t wear short sleeve shirts with dress coats; it is just a “No.” It could be considered regionally appropriate in some really warm (read: tropical) areas of the country or world, but it would not be my go-to professional look.
APH CareerConnect offers the popular Dress & Impress video for a fun and educational take on how to dress properly for a job interview. Dress & Impress is part of the Aaron’s Adventures in Employment multimedia series. For more advice on professional dress and dressing for a successful interview, you can check out the tips within the APH CareerConnect Job Seeker’s Toolkit in Module 4. The Job Seeker’s Toolkit is a free, self-paced online course designed to for preparation for navigating the employment process.
So, don’t make that big mistake for your next interview, dress to make that top-notch impression and avoid the short sleeves with the sport coat!
Man in business suit photo courtesy of Shutterstock.