Interview Tip: Dress For The Role

Eleni KelakosExecutive Presence, Interview Coaching, Interview Tips

In a recent coaching session, a client of mine, a mid-level manager eyeing a VP position in his company, raised a common but crucial question: “What should I wear for the interview? Sport coat and a nice shirt? Or just a nice shirt?”

My response was simple yet profound: “What’s your typical attire in your current role?”

“Polo shirts and long-sleeved tees,” he replied.

“And how about the executives? What do they usually wear?” I inquired.

“Sport coats and nice shirts,” he said.

“So, what do you think you should wear for the interview?” I prompted.

He grinned, “A sport coat and a nice shirt.”

“Bingo!” I exclaimed. “You want to dress for the role you’re aiming for.”

Dress At Least As Well As Your Audience

Whether you’re heading into a job interview or gearing up to deliver a presentation, dressing as well as, if not better than, your audience is paramount. It demonstrates respect for the occasion and helps align the interviewer’s perception of you with the role you aspire to fill.

Moreover, your choice of attire significantly influences your self-perception. Just as actors understand how costumes affect their performance, what you wear shapes your demeanor and confidence. This notion was underscored by Stella Adler, the renowned acting guru, who insisted that her students dress impeccably for class to embody the professionalism expected of actors.

The way you carry yourself in a well-fitted outfit versus casual attire is markedly different. Hence, when preparing for an interview, it’s imperative to elevate your attire to match the position you desire, not just the one you currently hold.

The Details Matter!

Attention to detail is paramount. Ensure your attire is devoid of stains, tears, or any disheveled elements. Comfort is key; you should be able to move and sit with ease. Pay equal attention to grooming, hair, and makeup, as they contribute to your overall presentation. Even in virtual interviews, dressing professionally influences your mindset and demeanor.

But What If The Company Culture Is Really Casual?

Even in companies with a relaxed dress code, opt for attire slightly above the norm during interviews. Just as politicians adapt their attire to resonate with diverse audiences, tailoring your outfit to match the expectations of your interviewers is crucial. This strategic approach not only fosters relatability but also enhances their perception of your suitability for the role.

Conclusion: Dressing for Success

As you prepare for your next interview or important presentation, remember the significance of attire in shaping perceptions. Dressing for the role you aspire to, rather than the one you currently occupy, sends a powerful message of ambition and professionalism. So, take the time to select attire that not only makes you feel confident but also conveys respect for the occasion and your audience.

If you’re seeking guidance for your next executive interview, consider investing in coaching to refine your approach and maximize your chances of success. Let’s talk about coaching!