How to Dress for a Formal or Casual Interview

How to Dress for a Formal or Casual Interview

The first impression you make on a potential employer is extremely important. When you first meet a potential employer, they immediately form an opinion of you based on what you wear. Regardless of the work environment, it is important to dress professionally for a job interview, as the way you dress can play a big role during the interview.

In general, the candidate wearing a suit and tie, dress and heels will make a much better impression than the candidate wearing jeans and sneakers. However, different industries have different expectations about how candidates and employees should dress.

The appropriate dress code can vary considerably depending on the company, industry and location. For example, a technology start-up in Silicon Valley could complain about someone dressing too formally, while the Government of Canada would disapprove of someone dressing too casually during the interview.

Here are some examples of what to wear for a corporate position and what to wear for a more relaxed position. In both cases, being well cared for with clean clothing is always required.

How to dress for a company interview

For Men:

Here are some examples of maintenance outfits for men. Men should always wear a default suit. All clothing must be tight fitting and free of stains.

  • Plain colour suit such as navy blue, black or dark grey
  • Long-sleeved shirt in white or matching the suit
  • Leather belt
  • Tie
  • Dark socks and conservative leather shoes
  • Little or no jewellery
  • Careful hairdressing
  • Limited amount of aftershave lotion or perfume
  • Nails carefully cut
  • Portfolio or briefcase

For Women:

In general, women’s fashion is more complicated and varied than for men who have fewer options. For example, if you are wearing a dress or skirt, you must decide whether you will wear pantyhose or whether bare legs are acceptable. Women should also consider cleaning accessories and choose an appropriate handbag. The best interview bags are professional bags large enough to hold a resume, but they are not too conspicuous.

These are the basic elements of what women should wear in a professional interview.

  • Navy blue, black or dark grey suit
  • Costume skirt just below or above the knee
  • Coordinated blouse
  • Conservative shoes
  • Limited Jewellery
  • No hanging earrings or arms full of bracelets
  • No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry
  • Professional hairdressing
  • Neutral colour tights
  • Light make-up and limited quantity of perfume
  • Clean and neat nails
  • Portfolio or briefcase

What not to bring to the interview:

  • Eraser
  • Coffee or soda
  • If you have a lot of piercings, leave some at home
  • If possible, cover the tattoos
  • You can bring your smartphone but make sure it is on silent or vibrating during your interview. This avoids the risk of receiving a distracting alert or phone call in the middle of the interview.

How to dress for a more relaxed interview:

When the workplace or work is less formal, the dress code may also be less formal. If you don’t know what to wear, it is a good idea to check with the person who is organizing the interview. However, it is always important not to dress carelessly.

Well before your interview, make sure you have the right interview gear and everything fits properly.

Prepare your clothes the day before so that you don’t have to spend time preparing them on the day of the interview. If your clothes need to be dry-cleaned, bring them to the cleaner right after an interview, then you are ready for the next interview.

Be sure to polish your shoes the night before.
Bring mint candies to use before entering the building.

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