Dressing for the Interview by Industry
By Peter Vogt, Monster Senior Contributing Writer
There’s no getting around it: In every job interview, you’re going to be judged — at least partially — by how you look.
But how you should look varies depending on your industry and the job you’re interviewing for. Take a look at general interview attire expectations for eight career areas:
“If you’re applying for a technical position, you won’t need a suit,” says Carole Martin, a former Monster contributor and author of Boost Your Interview IQ. “A collared shirt and khakis or slacks would work. Same goes for women — sweater or blouse and slacks or a skirt.”
But upgrade your attire if you’re interviewing for a higher-level job. “You dress in the best clothes you have,” says David Perry, managing director for Ottawa, Canada-based high tech recruiting firm Perry-Martel International and author of Career Guide for the High-Tech Professional. “No exceptions.”
If you’re interviewing for a finance job, remember that “nothing is more precise and exact than managing money,” says Pamela Holland, chief operating officer for Brody Communications in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and coauthor of Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move? “You cannot afford to have a hair out of place. Full business professional attire is required and expected.”
At a government interview, “don’t be flashy,” Holland says. “This is a time to show you’re responsible, trustworthy and honest.”
But a bit of color is OK, whether you’re a man or a woman, says Kathryn Troutman, author of Ten Steps to a Federal Job.
“Be conservative with jewelry, makeup and hairstyles,” she says. She advises being conservative overall, but adds “the days of all white shirts for men in government need to end.”
For an HR interview, “you must look professional and authoritative,” Martin says. “You’ll need the look that you could handle any crisis and be dependable.”
Typically, a suit is the uniform for a sales interview. After all, stresses Martin, “who would want to buy from a guy in a T-shirt and jeans?”
But you might be able to go with bolder designs and colors, Holland says. “The product or service you’re representing will determine how classic versus trendy/fashionable you should be,” she explains.
“Here’s an exception where a potential employer will understand if you have a little dirt or grease under your nails,” says Holland of interviewing for an auto repair job. “You still want to look as neat as possible, but a suit is probably not necessary.”
That is, unless you’re interviewing at a high-end dealership, says Heidi Nelson, a personnel counselor for Car People Oregon, a Portland, Oregon, automotive staffing service for new-car dealerships. In that case, Nelson says, “I would dress up a bit more.”