Interview Attire

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Clothes may not "make the man", but they can get or cost him the job. In a job interview, the pop-song assurance, "doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there!" absolutely does not apply. In addition to being clean and intact, interview attire should meet a number of other conditions. What is worn should

* Not be too closely identifiable with some pop-culture subculture, e.g., Goth or NRA, unless the employer wants, encourages or demonstrably doesn't mind that.

* Not look like garish bargain-bin polyester seconds.

* Strike a balance between being purely imitative and distinctive.

* Not clash with the cultural "color-and-pattern code", e.g., pink polka-dot men's suit on Wall Street.

* Look well maintained and complete, e.g., polished shoes, with shoelaces.

* Not be over-the-top sexy (which might suggest an attempt to distract attention from job credentials)-unless the job requires it, e.g., pole dancer.

* Not sacrifice physical well-being for visual appeal, e.g., don't wear a three-piece wool suit for a Miami interview.

When an applicant arrives for an interview with your company, self-presentation can speak volumes about them before the interview ever begins. Proper interview attire will vary depending on the position needing to be filled, but a clean and neat presentation always demonstrates desirable attributes or at least savvy in candidates.

The most well-received interview attire will usually be a suit or at least shirt and tie for a man, and a business suit or skirt and professional-looking blouse for a woman. A lower-level or maintenance position may allow for less formal dress. Regardless of the type of dress, a neat, clean, and pressed appearance should be required from any applicant, as this will demonstrate a level of responsibility that should be a minimum requirement for any position.

Attention should be paid to whether or not the clothes are appropriate for the position in particular. If the position is a customer interface, then the applicant should be dressed and presented in a manner that your company would consider acceptable or pleasing to your customers. For higher-level positions, anything less than professional business attire should be a warning sign of the seriousness with which the applicant takes the interview.

When evaluating the dress and presentation of applicants, be careful not to place too much emphasis on "fashion sense", as this is highly subjective and may not be any indication of either skills or values. If, however, the position is one in which physical presentation to customers or business partners is vital, more emphasis may be placed on this aspect as is appropriate.

Of particular interest in this connection may be the applicant attired in a "compromise" between "free" casual and constrained formal, e.g., a sweater, tie and slacks and polished shoes-displayed as a statement of constrained, but semi-indulged individuality and casualness. "Creative" types are very likely to dress this way for an interview (especially since they are less likely than corporate types to own a suit).

Another aspect of attire to note is any items that appear to be obvious status displays or "compensation" for some perceived shortcoming, e.g., a $2,000 suit or all-black to conceal extra pounds, since these can provide clues as to self-image, needs, fears, lifestyle maintenance expenses, and superiority/inferiority attitudes, with implications for workplace and customer relationships.
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