I've written before on dressing appropriately for an interview, and basic best practices are important to keep in mind. However, probably one of the most important aspects of dressing for maximum positive impact, is to wear something that makes you feel most confident and secure.
It's not unusual for people to dress in something that they believe is "interview appropriate", however, is very uncomfortable or unnatural for them, and so they come across as awkward and stressed.
While I am saying that there may be situations where it's better to dress somewhat outside the norm if it makes you more confident and at ease, I am not saying that what you wear is not important. Here are some things to consider…
Inappropriate dress may create stress as well. You may feel most comfortable and at ease in jeans and a T-Shirt. However, if you wear that to an interview where everyone else is wearing a suit, it's likely that the wide difference in dress will make you feel uncomfortable as well. Dressing in something that you feel great in, yet is near being appropriate for the environment you're going to, is likely to be the best option. It may mean not wearing a tie if you're a guy, or wearing a comfortable sweater instead of a blouse if you're a woman. However, for many people, knowing that they are wearing the most appropriate clothing for the work environment is what gives them the greatest sense of assurance.
Know what makes you feel confident. While you may feel most at ease in very casual clothes, you may find you are most confident when you feel like you look like a "million bucks"! Sometimes men perform at their best when they wear a "power suit". A woman may feel most assertive when they wear a formal business suit rather than a dress or slacks. Whatever it is that gives you the greatest confidence going into an interview is what will likely make you create the most positive impression.
Wear what works. For some people that may have difficulties in finding clothing that may be most appropriate, it's better to simply wear what works best for their circumstances. Someone that may be overly large, disabled in some way, or have other obstacles in wearing typical business attire, would likely make a better impression wearing something that looks good on them even if it's not the norm for the work environment. Forcing a traditional look that ultimately looks very awkward is less appealing to an employer than something that's out of the norm, but gives you confidence.
It's very subjective. Similar to getting opinions on your resume… opinions about appropriate interview dress will vary dramatically. What seems appropriate to one person will be out of bounds to another. However, a few general guidelines are relatively universal:
- Clothes should fit well, not too large, or too small, too loose, or too tight
- Colors should be coordinated
- Women should avoid revealing outfits
- Clothes should be neat and clean, and avoid sloppiness
- It's generally better to dress better than the work environment, than below it
Deciding what to wear for an interview can be tough process at times. Focusing more on what will give you the most confidence over what is most expected can help you project the best impression you can!