Monday, March 10, 2008

What to Wear? Acing the Interview – Part 1

A client of mine feels like he always comes in second in interviews. He does well, but he wants to do more than just do well. He wants to Ace the interview.

So how do you Ace the interview? How do you communicate that you're the top person for the job?

I'll be publishing interview tips in an "Acing the Interview" series.

First – What do you wear in an interview?

The old paradigm was to overdress for the interview. Translation: Suit. But that's not the right message to send in many places today, that are business casual. Overdressing may give the hiring manager the impression of you being stuffy, rigid, not "fitting in", or too formal. On the other hand, dressing under hiring manager expectations may give the impression of sloppiness, not serious, uncaring, or not wanting the job.

Miss either way, and you give the definite impression that you didn't listen. Probably because you didn't listen…or ask.

Because when in Rome…..yep, dress like the Romans.

So how do you find out what to wear? ASK. Definitely ask the person who set up the interview, but remember, they are likely in HR, not in the hiring manager's department. So who should you ask?

By now, you should have been networking, in person or virtually (through LinkedIN and FaceBook), so you have inside tracks to the company. Reach out to your contacts, and ask them about the company, what it's like working there, how formal the company is, dress code, etc. Ask how the company feels about facial hair if you are a man with a mustache, beard, or goatee (I've been personally asked how attached to a goatee I was during an interview – I wasn't attached, and got the job).

But there are other places to find out what Rome is like. Check the company's website, annual report, and marketing literature. How are the people dressed? If the CEO isn't wearing a suit in the Annual Report, chances are that you shouldn't wear a suit to an interview. Talk to recruiters….even if they didn't arrange the interview. Recruiters will know if they work with the company, and they'll appreciate you telling them about a specific opening.

Search for blogs about the company. Many larger companies have official blogs that describe life inside that company. Many unofficial blogs exist also, where you can see the good, the bad, and the ugly about the company you're interviewing with.

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".

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