Last week I had a job interview at one of my dream companies.
This company is cool, creative, and definitely casual. They let me know that they wear jeans to the office, so I should dress casual as well. I am NOT a jeans person, but I can definitely get down with casual wear. Sundresses are my signature, and what could be more easy-breezy than that? As it turns out, lots.
Determining the appropriate level of casual look in a business setting can be as tense as a tight-wire act.
My interview look very much resembled hers, but with powerclashing patterns and his shoes.
I’m sure you guys don’t have to ask yourself “Too slutty?” when getting dressed, but there’s plenty of other nuances you should double check when getting dressed for a guaranteed-judgement situation like an interview.
Sure, it’d be great if the world judged you solely on your work and not by that grape juice stain on your pants. But the fact is, they do, and in a brief situation with so much importance, like a job interview – where first impressions matter more than anything – you should take the extra effort to make sure everything is working in your favor.
Disclaimer: You can always wear a polo or dress shirt with khakis or dress pants and nice leather shoes to be business casual and look awesome. The looks in this post are geared toward those who really want to push business casual in a creative direction.
Here are my outfit picks for a casual workplace interview:
Sweatshirt – Gant, $95; Belt – Allen Edmond, $115; Jeans – Uniqlo, $50; Shirt – Charles & 1/2, $44; Boots – Florsheim, $170
Are you going into a creative field? Let your outfit be an extension of your portfolio! If you’re big on color in your designs, throw on a bright sweater. Show off your attention to detail in your outfit with a quirky pattern on your shirt or a limited edition shoe.
Tee – Dogooder, $18; Jacket - J.Crew ,$218; Pants – Saturdays NYC, $77; Belt – Martin Dingman, $95; Shoes – Clarks, $125
Tees are obviously a risky move, but if it fits perfectly, expresses your style and makes a statement, I think you could make it work. Throw on a sportcoat to make it more put-together than your regular weekend wear. Be sure to keep all of your other pieces extra tidy to show that you chose the shirt because you felt that it was the absolutely perfect piece and you would be selling yourself short by not wearing it.
In other words, make it look intentional – not sloppy.
Shirt – Land’s End Canvas, $49; Belt – Bonobos, $90; Pants – Scotch & Soda, $94; Shoes – Frye, $198
Level up all of the standard “business casual” pieces by adding color and texture. How much cooler does this look than a white button up and khakis? People like cool people. If you can make yourself look like the cool guy that you are, they will definitely remember you, and there’s no way they won’t want you.
A few other things to remember come interview time:
- Firm handshake, smile with ease
- Bring a copy of your resume and a few samples of your work for each person scheduled to interview you, plus a few extras JUST IN CASE
- Say your interviewer’s name when you thank them (“Thanks for meeting me today, Tom.”)
- Send a follow up note or e-mail after your interview, thanking them for their time. Be sure to send one to every person involved in each step of the process; influence goes a long way and everyone appreciates good manners
Have you had a casual workplace interview? What did you wear?