November 1, 2014

Dressing for the Occasion: Casual Interview

Preparing for a job interview can be stressful enough, but it’s important to remember that you only get one first impression. As someone who has hired for dozens of positions and worked with several hiring managers in various fields, I can say that appearance is often an important factor.

What I mean is that it’s important to dress appropriately for the job you are interviewing for because it not only makes it easier for the interviewer to envision you in the position, but it also shows that you understand and respect your potential employer. It’s one of those ‘dress for the job you want’ kind of things.

Some jobs, like those in business or law, will obviously necessitate business attire but more creative fields tend to allow a little more leeway for self-expression. Hopefully if you are interviewing at a company, you have a general idea of their workplace atmosphere and attire. My view is that you should dress as you would if you got the position, but maybe take it up a notch. There are always exceptions and each interview should be approached separately, but I have always found this to be a good starting point.

You want to be remembered when you leave the interview, but not for being the person who showed up in ripped jeans and a t-shirt or a lime green suit. Something like this purple herringbone sport jacket is memorable without being flashy.

A white shirt is classic and makes the process of coordinating a look that much easier because everything goes with white. What I like about Psycho Bunny, especially their ties, is the mix of fun and formality. The classic striped repp tie is appropriate for just about anything and the addition of the logo gives it a little bit of whimsy that is perfect for a creative field like fashion.

Personally I have an aversion to khaki chinos, probably from nine years of school uniforms. In this instance, a blue chino is basic enough while still being interesting. If the weather had been too warm for the cashmere sport jacket, I would probably have opted for a brighter pant instead to give me the pop of color that I’m looking for.

One thing that is often an afterthought is your bag. You should always bring copies of your resume to an interview, and you should bring them there in something respectable (read not a backpack). I find a hard briefcase too dated, so I opt for a soft leather bag. What I like about this one is the handles and the shoulder strap so it has the business feel of a briefcase with the versatility of a messenger bag.

Sport jacket by Scott James; Shirt by Uniqlo; Chinos by Gant Rugger;
Shoes by Ted Baker; Tie by Psycho Bunny; Tie bar by Link Up;
Scarf by Z Zegna; Bag by Marc by Marc Jacobs

With any interview, it is always better to err on the side of being overdressed than the opposite. Wearing something appropriate is equally as important as wearing something that makes you feel confident. If you can put together an outfit that is the perfect balance of the two, even better.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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