What Does Your Interview Outfit Say About Your Work Ethic?

It doesn’t matter if you are conducting or participating in an interview. It doesn’t matter what position you’re interviewing for. However, whether you are the candidate or the interviewer what you wear can potentially make or break the interview. The outfit you bring to the table while speaking to your (potential) future employer not only makes a statement about your cultural match, but also your work ethic. The cut of your shirt and the fit of your pants are important to pay attention to, but unbeknownst to many professionals, so is the color. We are taught to not judge a book by its cover; however, we are organically programmed to calculate peoples’ performance by his their appearance. This is evident during a video interview.

Orange IS NOT the New Black

Employers prefer neutral, conservative colors because they naturally convey an innate sense of professionalism. Black and blue were ranked as the most recommended colors for a job interview at 15% and 23% respectively.  Orange, on the other hand, was linked to unprofessional behavior by 25% of employers. Loud accessories are just as distracting as loud colors. Like taking a phone call during an interview – 77% of hiring managers agree can ruin an interview – obnoxious jewelry can do the same. It is good practice to wear a watch to an interview to display a concern for time, but a loose timepiece can make just as much noise as a necklace that jingles with every movement.

A Certain Level of Professionalism

Dressing well for the interview is one way to ensure the best video interview possible. You probably won’t be talking to your candidate on the beach, so there is no reason to wear flip-flops during your interview. Your choice to trade in the flip-flops for a nice pair of dress shoes or sling-backs could mean the difference between acquiring your ideal new hire. 72% of hiring managers say that dressing inappropriately for an interview is one of the biggest mistakes a candidate can make. So if it’s a mistake for your candidates, isn’t it a mistake for you as a recruiter as well?

As an interviewer you want your candidate to believe that you are in fact an expert on your company and the position they are being interviewed for. There is a certain unspoken respect that is attributed to the business professional (and their appearance). The three-piece suit, still customary for professionals like lawyers, and the white lab coat associated with doctors and pharmacists evoke a certain level of authority and expertise. Your chosen professional attire speaks volumes to those around you about your work ethic and knowledge. The interesting thing is what it does to your mentality when you wear clothes that make you look more professional…

… You actually begin to think and act more professionally.

But are the recruiting standards different for each industry?

The answer is a tentative yes. While it stands to reason that you wouldn’t look appropriate interviewing a candidate for a paralegal job wearing jeans and a t-shirt; that could be appropriate for a tech position. However, even if the company culture doesn’t necessarily dictate the need for a sports jacket, you can still make the casual look more professional. If the everyday unofficial dress code at the office is khakis, you can still dress up for the interview with dress pants and a polo shirt. You reflect your organization’s values with your outfit; doing so allows applicants to self-select out of the process if you’re just not the company they are looking to work for.

Video interviews aren’t any different than a traditional interview. You’re still trying to make a good impression with your candidate by attempting to convey the company culture. Your outfit has a major part in that. As a recruiter you are expected to portray your company in the best – yet honest – light in order to attract the talent that is culturally and functionally fit for the position.

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Julie Salerno, VP of Sales, Strategic Partnerships and Alliances at GreenJobInterview, is a talented professional who provides GreenJobInterview's sales team with strategic leadership and guidance that has helped more than 300 of the world’s leading organizations discover global talent through cloud-based virtual interviewing solutions, which reduce time and costs associated with scheduling and conducting interviews.

photo credit: David Kracht via photopin cc

Views: 360

Comment by Matt Charney on August 14, 2014 at 10:55am

I personally think candidates should come as they are - it's inane to me to sell a culture that's totally kicked back and casual like so many companies then require them to dress up for an interview in clothes they're never going to have to wear to the office ever again.

Comment by Nicholas Meyler on August 15, 2014 at 8:48pm

Matt makes a good point, and I think it is smart to avoid over-dressing, but I do think a sport-coat, slacks and nice shoes with a button-down shirt should be worn even at a "kicked-back" company -- just because the candidate is trying to make the best possible first impression.  You only get one chance to do that... might as well dress nicely.  Overkill would be wearing a suit and tie to a company where everyone is in jeans and t-shirts.  But, I've had candidates go to interviews dressed casually, even in super-casual Silicon Valley, and they got torpedoed for it.  Wearing flip-flops or sandals is another no-no, in my opinion.

My feeling is that it is better to err on the side of formality, when trying to get an offer, than to regret it later, just not to over-do it.

Comment by Bert Shimabukuro on August 17, 2014 at 7:45pm

I liked the polo shirt and dress pants recommendation for casual companies. I previously worked in a startup where everyone, including the CEO wore jeans and t-shirts. Even wearing a sports coat may have created distance and would have given the impression the candidate was too corporate. The business casual would have shown that you are taking this seriously but understand you were not interviewing at IBM.  


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