The average interviewer takes about three seconds to make an initial judgment of a person when they enter the room for an interview. Is it important to look the part? Absolutely.
What’s critical is not that you fit a standard carbon copy of the guy or gal who looks formal, austere and upright. But that you fit in with the rest of the people at the company.
Believe it or not, the super-conservative grey suit with conservative tie – or grey suit with conservative pearl earrings, only works if your new employer requires their employees to dress that way. If it’s more of a casual environment that supports a laid-back appearance for its workers, how’s your grey suit fairing now?
On the other hand, if you’re interviewing for an ultra-conservative role like, for example, a law clerking job – the “I’m a walking, talking representative of the organization” look and feel might just be what the doctor ordered.
It’s important that you understand where your appearance falls. Do some research – get a look (if possible) at the employee dress code by hanging around outside the building and watching employees come and go from lunch. Do their collective appearances channel a certain formality, to put it simply? If they’re dressed super conservatively and look real uptight – you can bet a nicely pressed grey pant suit is the order of the day.
If, by contrast, you see some employees proudly displaying visible tattoos, go-tees – and clothing you’re sure came from J Crew, you can bet it’s a little more casual at your potential new workplace. The grey suit can live another day.
Always look neat and tidy. Wear clothes that came from this decade (not too worn out that is) – and do your research before you go. You don’t want to blow the interview because the interviewer just couldn’t imagine you “fitting in.”
Take your appearance seriously when you need to.