Dress Code: How to Add to Your Professional Swagger

Tanya Swetta February 22, 2012 0

A friend of mine recently went for a walk-in interview where the interviewer morphed from Smiley Sam into The Hulk upon seeing the physical appearances of some applicants.

“You gotta be kidding me, guys! Jeans?! T-shirts?! SHORTS?!?! I don’t know what you think but this is NOT the beach!!!” said the newly transformed Hulk.

So what do you wear to interviews?

Formal Clothes
You could alternately wear a formal button-down shirt and trousers. Girls can wear formal dresses, blouses and skirts. However, suits are always best for either gender. It shows that you mean business! Several of my friends have told me that people pay more attention to what they have to say when they are dressed in business suits, as opposed to a simple formal shirt and trousers. Pay heed to the wise words of Barney Stinson and…

Choose colors that are aesthetic but not toooo bright! No one likes a loud shirt! You need to stand out and be presentable while at the same time, look sober and professional.

Also, make sure you’re wearing clothes that fit you well. At my previous job as HR, I interviewed candidates who showed up in over-sized suits with their trousers trailing along the floor. Not cool, man, not cool!

Closed shoes, please! You could wear an amazing outfit and have the swagger of a CEO, but the wrong shoes could TOTALLY mess up your whole look.

My Psychology professor was once explaining presentation dress code to us. He picked 2 girls and 2 guys. He got them to go out of the classroom, walk back in and introduce themselves. The first pair donned nice shoes, while the other pair was in casual flip flops. Without really giving a conscious thought to their shoes, we unanimously voted the first pair as confident and presentable. He then told us that it was because of their “killer shoes”, and the posture the shoes gave them that made us pay more attention to them.

“Shoes make a person!” he said.

I’ve come across girls who wear sandals to interviews, and open-toed heels. Let me just say that it turns off the formal look. Closed heels are definitely the way to go. It just looks more professional! When I interviewed girls that were all dressed up and wearing open heels, it just made me feel like they had come for a party!

Your hair needs to look neat, tidy and sober. Girls with long hair are generally advised to tie their hair back. Basically, away from the face. Guys, don’t do crazy spikes and don’t dunk your head into a tub of hair gel. I’ve seen it and it ain’t pretty.

Neatly trimmed, boys and girls. Yes, guys too! I’ve interviewed guys with long, messy nails and it just makes me shudder. Girls, make sure your nail polish isn’t chipping off. And once again, wear sober nail colors!

This isn’t really part of any “dress code” but it does add to your physical appearance. I remember interviewing one candidate who chewed gum throughout the interview. The whole time I was just like, “Dude, are you out of your mind?!?”

I advised her to never chew gum in future interviews, and I would advise you all the same too.

What Not To Wear (EVER)

  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Immodest clothing
  • Loud colours
  • And also, don’t wear formal-cum-casual clothes. Confusing, yeah. But what I mean is clothes like collared button-down shirts with casual prints, or formal shirts with hoods at the back.

Always wear formals. If the interviewer specifies that casual clothes are okay with them, STILL try to dress at least semi-formal or smart casual. Dressing well will show your interviewer that you are serious and care about the job. The person they employ will be representing the company so they would want to hire someone who is presentable. It doesn’t stop at the interview though. Dress well at interviews and continue to dress well at your job. A friend of mine wears a tie to work even though it’s not required. His boss has actually noticed this and acknowledged him several times for maintaining such professional attire!

So don’t just dress to impress. Dress to KILL! Knock ‘em dead, guys!