Job interviews test your nerves. You sit there, desperately hoping the throbbing vein in your neck doesn’t betray your palpitating heart rate, or the sweat forming in the palms of your hands won’t form telltale wet marks on the arms of your chair, simultaneously trying to ignore the multiple pairs of eyes staring at you and the fact that strangers are typing out notes after every sentence you say.
Almost every aspect conspires to make it an uncomfortable experience. Is it too much to ask that your clothes at least be comfortable?
You’d give anything to show up in flannel pajama bottoms and a worn-out hoodie. That’s probably too much to ask at any company. But while sleepwear is likely taboo everywhere, jeans represent the main frontier between the casual and business casual workplace. But are they ever okay at a job interview?
Here are four things to keep in mind when deciding how casual to dress for a job interview:
Judge the Culture
Every company has its own vibe, with a dress code to match. The spectrum of potentially acceptable attire spans the gamut from jeans/T-shirt to bespoke-tailored suits (you don’t get to the tuxedo/evening gown status until you apply for a job as full-time Oscar presenter).
Know where on the spectrum your company sits. Research the company ahead of the interview to figure out their overall culture. You should be able to determine what kind of outfit they expect.
Not Just a Day at Work
While the company’s culture will inform your decision, it doesn’t provide the final answer on what to wear. There’s work attire, and then there’s interview attire.
Everyday employees in their fifth year with the company might show up in baseball caps and ponytails. But you’re still trying to make an impression.
Even if signs point to a more casual workplace, don’t assume jeans are appropriate for the interview. Set your dress code threshold at least a notch above the normal workday outfit most of the employees prefer.
Ask Someone at the Company
Why try to guess? The best way to find out the appropriate dress for an interview is to ask someone at the company. Getting a straight answer about the company’s expectations eliminates the uncertainty.
When scheduling the interview, ask “Are there any dress codes I should keep in mind?” They’ll let you know what’s expected.
You’ve done some research, but the company’s culture doesn’t completely fall into either the casual or dressy camp. You’ve asked someone at the company, but the answer was ambiguous.
The best policy? Better to overdress than underdress.
You might get a little friendly joshing if you overshoot the dress code at the interview, but people will generally respect the effort. You may have guessed wrong, but at least you put in some work.
However, missing the mark on the other end – showing up underdressed for the situation – might become a deal breaker.
Figuring out all the traps set up around the hiring process can be maddening. That’s why having a partner takes some of the worry out of the job search. By teaming up with a recruiting firm, you have someone on your side who can answer key questions like “What do I wear to the interview?”
Contact LaborMAX today to find out what they can do to fast track your career.