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Tandem Powered's blog is dedicated to empowering readers by highlighting best practices in the arena of resume writing, career development, and organizational effectiveness, as well as by providing readers with an insider's view of the corporate hiring process.

What to Wear to an Interview

Kent Nolen

I just got back from an interview and am mortified. I’d dressed in what I think most people would consider “business casual” attire. The person who interviewed me, the hiring manager, was wearing sweats. Am I completely out of touch?

Much like the topic of interviewing via video, this topic can cause people quite a bit of anxiety.

Never dress down. I don’t care what you know about the culture of the place you are going to interview. Never think it’s okay to dress overly casually. No matter the looks you think you’re getting, or how uncool you’ll feel, potential employers always appreciate that you are dressing for the occasion. Why? It shows that you are taking it seriously.

Level up a notch. Having said the above, there’s no need to, say, wear a suit to interview in a casual environment. That could actually hurt you. I always advise that people dress a notch above what the environment calls for. This enables you to be viewed as serious (see above) and keeps you from being viewed as overly formal or out of touch with the culture.

Don’t fall for the “wear anything” advice. Oftentimes, candidates ask the company about an organization’s culture and how to dress for the interview. Oftentimes, the person arranging the interview will say (in all honesty) something like: “Oh, we’re totally casual here. We pretty much all wear jeans, so that’s fine.” Always, always level up a notch.

Even if the hiring panel is wearing sweats, take pride in elevating your outfit for the interview. They know exactly what you’re doing, and they appreciate it. They did the exact same thing in order to sit there in sweats while interviewing you. Plus, people who elevate their look for an interview simply carry themselves a bit prouder and speak a bit more eloquently. It’s just how it goes. You set your intention by how you dress, which, in turn, motivates you to rise to the occasion.

Just don’t go overly formal. Because no one wants to work with that person.