Dressing to Fit the Job in an Interview

6 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Preparing for a Job Interview

By dressing appropriately to fit the job in your interview, you signal potential employers that you respect their company’s culture. Your interview clothes should demonstrate that you care enough to expend the effort to make the right impression.

Social DNA draws people to others who are like them. When extending a welcome to a newcomer, you pay compliments that indicate “You’re one of us.” Companies and organizations are made of people working as a group to accomplish common goals. An anthropologist might think of such a group as a kind of workplace tribe.

When your choice of clothing or your grooming keeps you from looking like you’re a member of the tribe, you create an image of an outsider, perhaps causing the interviewer to perceive you as “not one of us.” That’s why you should make the effort to look as though you absolutely belong on the company’s tribal land.

How can you find out about the company’s dress code and grooming conventions? You have several options:

  • Visit the company’s Web site and search for videos of employees. Check for beards, mustaches and long, loose hair. Notice whether the men are wearing sport jackets or suits, or simply shirts with or without a tie. Observe whether the women are in pants or skirts, and if the latter, how short they are.

  • Call the human resources office and ask about the company’s dress code.

  • Use your personal network — or an online social network — to find an employee whom you can quiz.

  • Loiter near the workplace and observe employees coming and going. Just don’t wear a raincoat, show up in a white van, or watch through binoculars.

Treating an interview as a chance to show off a free-spirited or eccentric personality is a big mistake. Avoid far-out personal image statements when you’re out on job patrol. Otherwise, some interviewers will think you’re outlandish, maybe even weird, and they’ll want you gone.

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The Essentials of Preparing for a Job Interview

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