So I Have to Suit Up?

Dressed to impress.

Dressed to impress.

Proper attire for an interview is not one suit fits all. In some situations, a suit is a must but in others wearing a suit could count against you. As a rule, I like to be slightly overdressed for an interview. It is a little power play that makes me feel on top of my game. But how do you decide what is best for your interviewing needs?

Let’s get the generalities out of the way. Getting an interview is a make or break situation. You only have one shot at making the first impression. Do not look like you just rolled out of bed, threw something on and are gracing the interviewer with your presence. At the very least, be neat, clean, well groomed, no wrinkled clothing, no holes (I don’t care if it is the style), no sleeveless (I don’t care if it is hot outside), no flip flops (this is not the beach) and lastly you should not look like you are going to a night club – nothing too revealing.

Now back to the suit question. It is up to you to know your industry. What are the expectations? Are you in banking? Then yes standard business attire is expected – dark suit, neutral colored shirt with conservative tie and dress shoes for men, conservative dress, skirt or slacks with blouse and a jacket with closed toed shoes for women. Definitely not the time to make any fashion forward choices.

But what about the less obvious industries. How about hospitality? There are so many levels of positions. Upper Management – standard business attire. A front desk position, at a 4-star hotel, a basic suit is the safe choice. Not necessarily as conservative as a bank but still a very put together look with a dress shirt and a tie for men and an outfit combo that includes a jacket for women.  Catering, service positions: no suit needed, dress slacks, collared shirt, dress shoes for men, dress, skirt/slacks with blouse, no jacket needed.

How about retail jobs? That depends on the what kind of store it is. If it is an edgy niche clothing store, then dress to fit the store. They’d think you did not understand the store culture if you were too conservative. The same for a high fashion luxury sales store, dress for the job. Show the interviewer that you understand what is acceptable for the location.

The bottom line is you are interviewing with someone who has seen you on paper but not in person. Do not let your interview attire distract from the qualifications that you are bringing to that potential employer. Your interview outfit should complete the package, show the employer that you respect the interview process, know what is standard for your industry and that you are a good fit for the position and the company culture.

Copyright 2017 Teri Maher