Dress for Success in Your Executive Job Interviews

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You’ve got an absolutely stunning executive resume and LinkedIn profile, have practiced your responses to the toughest interview questions, and have researched everything you can find about your target companies. But don’t forget how you look at that upcoming interview. It really is true: You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

So now you may be wondering: What should I wear to the interview?

For most executive and senior executive level positions, and indeed for most white-collar positions of any stripe, the answer is going to be business formal or at minimum business professional dress, with the possible exception of some more youthful or high-tech industries. One way to find out when your target is local is to casually walk around the lobby, if a larger firm, or possibly sit in your car in the parking lot and watch what people are wearing when they come out. If your target company is remote, you may be able to glean some intelligence from photos of people, especially in groups versus professional head shots.

The infographic at your left provides a succinct overview of what to wear and when, compliments of T.M. Lewin, a British heritage brand clothier. Keep in mind that their advice does tend to be a bit on the conservative side in comparison to the U.S., which leans toward casual.

A good rule of thumb is that you always want to be a little more formal than the folks you are interviewing with, as a mark of respect and the seriousness of your interest. Being substantially overdressed or under-dressed can be very uncomfortable on both sides of the interview table.

Another thing to keep in mind is your fragrance. It is best not to wear perfume or scented aftershave in consideration of others’ possible allergies or sensitivities. If you feel you must, go very lightly on it.