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Dress for Success: What to Wear for a Job Interview

Dress for Success: What to Wear for a Job Interview

Whether in person or Zoom, what you wear can leave a lasting impression

 

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There are many guidelines for how to dress for success, but in an age when remote job interviews are becoming the norm, this might be the ultimate rule: For virtual meetings, dress as though you’re going to an in-person interview. No matter how your interview is conducted, here are more top tips that will help you put your best-dressed foot forward.

Dress for the company

Dress for the company

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Before you pick out an outfit, get a sense of the corporate culture of the company you’re interviewing for. If you’re interviewing for a tech startup job, being too formal runs the risk of you not fitting in. And if you’re a candidate for a Wall Street job, showing up in a sweater and pants can make you seem too casual.

Do some research

Do some research

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Because dress codes vary so widely, do a quick search on Glassdoor or LinkedIn and find pointers from people who have interviewed for the same company. You can also get an idea by looking up the company’s website or social media accounts to see whether they’ve posted pictures of their work environment and employees. 

How to dress ‘business professional'

How to dress ‘business professional'

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If you’re interviewing for a job in accounting, banking, finance, government, law or similar fields, the dress code is likely to be “business professional.” Appropriate wardrobe choices would include dresses, skirts or slacks with clean lines; button-down tops or neat blouses with a blazer; a dark-colored suit and tie; button down-shirts with a simple belt; and subtle accessories. For a Zoom interview, wear a blazer or suit that is tailored to fit and make sure it’s ironed to perfection. Employers will only see your top half and you should try to nail it. 

How to dress ‘business formal’

How to dress ‘business formal’

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“Business formal” attire is usually reserved for the most formal settings such as ceremonies, benefits or other corporate evening events, but there are companies that prefer this level of dress every day. If the company you’re interviewing for skews business formal, opt for dark pants suits, skirt suits, suit dresses or a suit and tie with minimal accessories. 

Go ‘business casual’ if you’re just not sure

Go ‘business casual’ if you’re just not sure

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Generally, “business casual” is the safest bet when you don’t know the company dress code, both during the interview and on your first day of work, because it strikes the right balance of professional and trendy. Examples of clothes under the business casual umbrella include a dress shirt or blouse with slacks or khakis; an open-collar or polo shirt on neutral or dark-colored pants with an optional tie or blazer; a dress or skirt at knee-length or below; and any tailored jacket, knit shirt or sweater.

Gender-neutral options

Gender-neutral options

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In many fields nowadays, you don’t have to abide by stereotypically feminine or masculine styles when dressing for an interview. Some gender-neutral options are a button-down shirt that can easily be dressed up or down, paired with slacks, a blazer or a tie if you like. You want to look polished and professional while still feeling comfortable and authentically you.

Avoid distracting attire

Avoid distracting attire

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When interviewing for a job, your clothes help represent your personality and communicate a bit more about you. However, some items can be distracting. Whether you’re interviewing via Zoom or in-person, it’s always best to ditch overwhelming things like loud and wacky ties, overly large accesories, confusing shirt printts, shiny materials that make too much noise when you move or anything that warrants a double take. 

Make sure your skillset speaks the loudest

Make sure your skillset speaks the loudest

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Wearing any clothing or accessories with words or logos, cartoon characters or wacky patterns can take the attention off of your resume skills and qualifications. Also make sure to avoid clothing with profanity, possibly offensive imagery or phrases. This goes for your background as well if you’re interviewing virtually. While it’s OK to have a few items on the wall behind you to subtly show your interests, your clothes and decor should not be louder than you are.

Black is great, but not always

Black is great, but not always

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Job experts recommend wearing dark, neutral colors like black, blue or gray. However, according to fashion website Who What Wear, you should save black for high-powered interviews because this color comes off as powerful and aloof. It's a perfect choice if you're interviewing for a managerial role as opposed to entry-level positions. 

Go with grays

Go with grays

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Gray might seem boring on paper, but in clothing, you can choose from charcoal tones, ash, stone and even light, medium or dark hues. It’s easy on the eyes and pairs well with pops of color, such as a floral headband, emerald studded earrings, a maroon pocket square or complementary tie. 

Blue might be your best bet

Blue might be your best bet

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According to a national survey by employment website CareerBuilder, 23% of hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries recommended blue as the best color to wear to a job interview. Blue is known to be a calming color and gives off positive vibes — in fact, the survey revealed that hiring teams attributed the color blue with people who are team players. 

Don’t wear orange

Don’t wear orange

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The same survey also revealed the color you should absolutely avoid: orange. Twenty-five percent of employers agreed that the color is the worst choice, as it is associated with someone who is unprofessional. If you like brighter colors, sprinkle them into your outfit tastefully.

If you wear a head covering, get creative

If you wear a head covering, get creative

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Men and women of different religious traditions often wear a head covering such as veils, turbans, yarmulkes and hijabs. If do you wear one, you should feel comfortable doing so to a job interview. You can also use your head covering to showcase some personal style as well by using unique colors, fabrics and patterns. 

Pay attention to details

Pay attention to details

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Small details like making sure your clothes are wrinkle-free, your hair is neat and your nails are clean matter a lot when it comes to virtual job interviews where the focus is more concentrated. And for in-person interviews, your shoes should be polished too. 

Get your outfit tailored

Get your outfit tailored

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Fit is the most important element of any outfit. Clothes that are too tight might come across as inappropriate for the occasion and clothing that is too baggy can feel unprofessional. You don’t have to spend a large amount of money on a blazer or suit — if it fits well, it’ll look polished and classy and you’ll be a shoo-in to get the job you want

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