• What to Wear to a Job Interview

    Posted by in Image Update, Impression Management, Your Professional Image With | No Comments

    Having received several newsletter comments regarding this subject, I thought that I would post this here too.

    At a recent panel discussion, the Emerging Professionals with the Irvine Chamber of Commerce asked me this question. What is appropriate to wear to a job interview? Here is my response along with a comment from one of my newsletter readers.

    What to wear to an interview is determined by the position you're applying for, the company's culture and the message you want to communicate about yourself.  Everything about your dress and grooming sends out bits of information about you. Are you attentive to detail? Think about the attributes you want to communicate during the interview. Are they supported by your appearance?

    Many companies have a business casual policy and you want to be careful that you aren't over or under dressed. Rule of thumb…Once you know what others in the position you are applying for wear, dress 30% – 50% above that. In a casual environment, it is important to pay extra attention to the fit and condition of your outfit. Is your collar pressed? What about the length of your slacks, skirt or sleeves? Are they appropriately hemmed?


    Do your homework. The greater the understanding you have of the company's brand attributes the easier it will be for you to align the company's brand with your personal brand. Brand alignment increases your chances of being perceived as a perfect fit.

    Reader’s comment: 

    "I’ll never forget one woman who interviewed with an EVP of the company. It was around June – hot weather. She was a beautiful, middle-aged woman, tall, slim, but ……

    She was wearing sling-back sandal heels and wore bright neon-pink nail polish on her hands and feet. Her clinging dress was a little above the bare-knee and sleeveless.

    I escorted her to the interview room and notified the EVP she was ready for him to meet with her. He walked in, shook her hand and introduced himself. She smiled and exchanged the handshake.

    I left and waited for the interview to finish. It was short, let me tell you. I was surprised at how short the interview was. The EVP walked her to the lobby, smiled and shook her hand and said, “We’ll be in touch.” She smiled and thanked him.

    Well, when the door was closed, he looked at me and said in a quiet yet shocked-tone of voice, “Did you see that nail polish!?!!!! Is she serious?!!!! Did she think she was coming to a luncheon appointment with her girlfriends?!!!!!” and off he went.

    Needless to say he did not hire her. Yes, I agree it was a quick assessment on his part, due to her manner of dress; but he could not get passed the nail polish and casual apparel. He did not take her as being serious to be employed at this company. She may have been a wonderful employee, but she was not dressed the part. From the looks of her appearance, she took some time to get ready, but it did not look like she was getting ready for a job interview. Funny thing is she did look like she was on her way to a luncheon and happened to schedule her interview just before her lunch appt.

    So – you are right-on with your answer."


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    Diana Jennings
    Diana Jennings is the founder of Brand You Image – a personal branding and image management company based in Southern California. A specialist in non-verbal communication, she brings a sophisticated understanding of people and a passion for growth to those working to reach their personal and professional goals. Typical engagements involve the development of high potential individuals and senior level management in personal brand discovery, image management, social and business behavior, and body language for better communication and interaction with others.

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