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Interviews: What to Wear

Deciding on an interview outfit can be a daunting task. While you definitely don't want to appear overly casual, showing up in a suit for a retail interview sends an equally confusing message to your employer. In this section, we will define and discuss the different standard dress codes and explain how to make an informed decision on your interview attire.

Standard Tips & Tricks

  • When in doubt, lean toward more formal attire. It’s always better to be slightly overdressed to an interview than underdressed.

  • A great rule of thumb is that you don't want your interviewer to notice your outfit, you want them to focus on your answers. For example, avoid chunky jewelry or very bright colors that may distract your interviewer.

  • Look at the company’s social media and online presence to get a sense of their culture and style. For example, entrepreneurial startups and technology companies have less strict dress codes than business internships, and retail companies might want to see some of your personality in your clothing.

  • A simple Google search can often give recommendations from past interviewees.

  • What you are wearing is likely not an outfit you would wear when you go out with friends. It’s safer to lean on the more conservative side when picking the length of dresses/skirts and neckline, length, and sleeves of your blouse for an interview.

  • With virtual interviews becoming more and more common, it’s important to still dress as you would for an in person meeting. And don’t forget to put on good pants in case you have to stand up!

  • For an in-person interview, bring a folder with your resume (see Dollar Scholars' tips to building a high school resume HERE), some blank paper, and a pen/pencil. If you can put this in a plain and simple bag/purse, then you can add other items you might want in case of emergency like water, lip stick, and tissues.

Three Most Common Dress Codes

1. Smart Casual: Look professional while still being comfy and casual! Dressing according to Smart Casual is the bare minimum for any interview. Smart casual is usually the norm for retail and other service industry jobs. However, if you are unsure about the dress code expectations, business casual (#2, discussed below) is always a safer option.

2. Business Casual: Business Casual is the perfect balance between a suit and Smart Casual! We recommend this style if you are unsure of what attire is expected for the interview. This is the most common dress code for interviews, and is usually expected at office job and internship interviews.

3. Business Formal: With Business Formal, make sure to pull out your suit! This dress code is usually reserved for higher level corporate jobs (lawyers, bankers, etc). This is the least common attire for entry-level jobs.

To learn about how to find affordable interview and professional attire, please visit this blog post!

For more in-depth information on interview attire, check out this article.

Photo Credit:

(1) Photo by Amy Hirschi via Unsplash

(2) Photo by via PxHere

(3) Photo by Igor Link from Pixabay

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