Dressing For The Interview

Over the past few years we have seen some interesting changes in the way candidates interview for a position. The one thing that has stayed the same is that how you dress can be a huge step toward getting into that job you want. The good news is that dressing for an interview with a Start-up, Engineering Consulting firm, Construction Company or an Electrical/Mechanical Contractor can be easy if you are given the right information.

If you are working with a Recruiter there are a few questions you need to ask:  Who will be in the interview with me?   Will we be going onsite? And – What is the appropriate dress code for this interview?  We have found the need to ask these questions each time because one Consulting firm may require a Suit and Tie and another may feel uncomfortable if they feel you are overdressed.  Since the time has come for offices to “feel” comfortable and relaxed you may need to wear Docker type slacks and a button-down shirt and skip the tie for a man, a simple dress or slacks and blazer for a woman. Save the 3-piece suit for your next wedding.

In the Construction Industry, we have found that candidates coming from their current employer for an interview may be in jeans and a polo shirt.  You will need to have your recruiter check to see if this is acceptable or if you need a change of clothes in the trunk of your car and find the nearest bathroom to change in before you show up. If you are headed to a job site you may need safety boots or other gear. First impressions will make or break the process and you don’t want to feel out of place.

In some cases, you may need to dress up for the interview and once hired you can dress down to Dockers or jeans on a regular basis.  However, it is important to know that dressing for the interview will all depend who you are interviewing with – a President or Vice-President, HR Manager, at a Construction site, for an Engineering Consulting Firm, at a Restaurant, etc. Most of the time being neat and clean will make the interview pleasant and comfortable but you need to know the answers to the above questions.

If you are not working with a recruiter then always go the middle ground.  Wear a suit jacket or Blazer and button down shirt and wear a tie. A sport coat and a pair of Dockers is a great way to dress up business casual. Many times, employers will tell you that you can take the jacket off or remove the tie if they want you to feel more comfortable in the interview.

We have had interviews take place on job sites, in group meetings, in professional firms and each one has a balance of the proper attire for the interview. Just please don’t show up to a professional engineering interview in motor cycle boots and a leather fringe jacket. You don’t need to be in the current fashion trends, but looking professional for the job you want is a great way to make a first impression. Good luck on your interview!