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  • Robb Conlon

Dressing for the Part...

Dressing for success.

It's an old adage it's something that people have mentioned for decades as a leg up in the interview process.

Is it all it's cracked up to be though?

There are two schools of thought on this issue.

The first is that you should always be looking professional you should always wear a suit or dress to an interview and truly look to dress to impress.

The other, more recent school of thought is that you should tailor your appearance to match the environment you'll be working in.

The fact of the matter is that both of these concepts have legs today.

If you're going to an office interview, you'll likely want to go to the slightly more formal route. Wear the chinos, wear the dress pants, rock that red power suit (If you're reading this, you know who you are) that you've always been wanting to wear, and go in with a great professional aura about yourself.

This is what the standard has been for many many years.

You get dressed up to go to an interview.

Recently though, insights into emotional intelligence and behavioral intelligence have allowed us to poke a few holes in the concept of dressing formally for any and all job interviews.

There are number of companies out there that don't really have much of an office presence. They may have a home base where they have somebody tackle their finances, bookkeeping, and of course answer the phone, but the reality of their business is that they're in the field frequently. Out there, they're wearing clothing and uniforms that are much more rugged then your standard dress up for an interview affair.

This article postulates that doing your research into the company you're interviewing with may benefit you not only in wearing something presentable, but also something that may send a message to your interviewer that you're in tune with their business.

This, of course, does not EVER mean show up in holey jeans, and a tank top with a mustard stain on it, but rather that you should tailor your appearance to the type of job that you're interviewing for.

There are three types of job interviews that you will likely have a profile of in your job hunt.

The first is a formal setting. This is most likely in an office building or a white-collar environment. If your work is going to have you be in a cubicle or at a desk most of the day try to dress up appropriately for the interview you don't need to bust out the tail coat and top hat, but bringing out a tire that you might wear to church with grandma is probably a smart move.

The second type of job interview is for something that's much more blue-collar. Something that's much more physical and hands-on. You might be meeting with somebody who's just come off of a job site and is taking a part of their day to interview you to see if you're a fit for their team.

Showing up to a job interview like this in a suit and tie or fancy dress is most likely not going to get you a lot of points with somebody who is working in the field when it comes to your interview.

This may send a message of "I'm better than you" to your interviewer.

You certainly don't mean it this way!

You're simply trying to look as nice as you can to win a job, but in certain cases it may be beneficial to you to dress more for this part.

Instead of a suit, perhaps you go with a nice sweater and khakis, showing that you put the effort into looking nice, but also taking into account the practicality of your attire. The brand Duluth Trading Co. is really good at this "working formal" look.

When dressing to impress, it's all about your emotional intelligence. This is about you reading people in the room. It's about reading what the other person feels and also doing your research to know the culture of the company as much as you can before you walk in the door.

The final type of interview attire that you should be looking at is something that's a little bit more rare. This is generally found in tech companies and other startup environments and things like that.

This is the Casual or relaxed dress code, and it is the most perhaps dangerous of all.

This particular interview dress code can be very relaxed: jeans and t-shirts perhaps.

The question you have to ask yourself in the research that you have to do before going to an interview like this is, "If I show up looking like the culture is it going to benefit me?"

That's a question you're going to have to ask about each and every company you apply to. Are you enough like one of them to land position with them. Your outward appearance in your interview will make a major impact on whether or not this is a yes or a no answer.

In short, do your research on the companies you're going to be interviewing with.

Find those employee group shots on their website, what kind of clothing are they wearing in that, dig into what their culture is like on a daily basis. The answers you find to questions like these is what will help you win your job hunt.


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