As millennials transition into leadership roles and technological advancements continually alter the work environment, the significance of old-school interview dress codes fades. Today, walking into job interviews in a suit, tie, and dress shoes could cause you to stick out like a sore thumb. It may also give interviewers the impression that you’re out of touch with modern-day trends and the company’s culture, which could lower your chances of getting hired.
What Is An Informal Interview?
Informal or unstructured interviewing processes are becoming increasingly popular in the business world. They’re less intrusive, more convenient, and offer a more positive experience for interviewers and potential candidates. Informal interviews often occur in a laid-back setting (as opposed to the conference room or corporate office), including digital platforms, local cafes, restaurants, and public spaces.
The methodology is also different as the interviewer often takes a different approach to getting to know you. Instead of an ask-and-answer session, it’s a conversation in a mutually comfortable environment that often leads to better results. In many instances, dressing in traditional corporate attire isn’t necessary.
The Do’s And Don’ts of Informal Interview Attire
While you may not need a business suit and tie, it doesn’t permit you to throw caution to the wind. As first impressions and appearances matter, here is a list of do’s and don’ts when dressing for an informal interview.
Do Evaluate The Company Environment
When deciding what to wear to an interview, you should always analyze the company culture or environment. Is it a fortune 500 company or an indie startup? Is the business run by a Baby Boomer or a millennial? How do the executives and other team members dress? The company’s website and social media can be instrumental in helping you to answer these questions. Ultimately, you want to dress at or just above the expectations of those working for the organization.
Don’t Wear Dingy, Wrinkled, or Torn Clothing
There are some classic interview fashion rules you should follow. For instance, you should never show up to an interview in dirty, smelly, wrinkled, or torn clothes. That includes faded or distressed jeans. You want to remain presentable, and the condition of your clothes says a lot about your character, lifestyle, and attention to detail.
Do Stick To Business Casual Attire
Dressing casually to run errands or hang with friends is very different than dressing for an informal interview. Steer clear of graphic tees, jeans, sweatsuits, and hoodies. Instead, you should wear khakis, solid slacks, cardigans, polo shirts, button-ups, or pullover sweaters.
Don’t Overdo It On Accessories
There’s nothing wrong with a nice watch, necklace, or ring to add a sense of style to your interview attire; however, you don’t want to go overboard. Wearing oversized or flashy jewelry is a distraction. It takes away from you and your conversation and could cause an interviewer to believe you’re loud, boisterous, and over-the-top. Stick to something simple, classic, yet memorable, like a small gold bracelet and matching watch.
Do Wear Comfortable Men’s Dress Shoes
While the interview may not require wearing a pair of black or patent leather wingtip Oxfords, you don’t want to show up in a pair of sneakers. Instead, opt for men’s dress shoes like Chelsea boots or loafers. They’re laid-back without taking away from your professional appearance, and they also work well with the business casual clothing options above.
Don’t Forget To Stand Out
Casual wear doesn’t mean dull and basic. Remember, you’re trying to separate yourself from other applicants. Just as a business owner must be creative with packaging to market their products, your must incorporate elements to make yourself stand out. For example, a cable-knit cardigan could add texture and depth to an otherwise boring pair of kakis and a white button-up shirt. It’s alright to select bold colors and patterns as long as they’re not distracting. Adding personality to your interview attire separates you from the rest and can boost your confidence, helping you make a well-rounded impression.
Whether it’s been a while since you went on a job interview or this is your first time on the market, what you wear matters. Although traditional interview dress codes encourage wearing a suit and tie, modern organizations are moving towards informal processes in a casual setting. Dress the part by ditching tradition (mostly) and using the tips above to make a good impression and, hopefully, get the job.