Employer Advice Spotlight: Better to be Overdressed than Underdressed

By Joshua Pringle

Joshua Pringle is the Director of Marketing at CO2Meter, a leader in Carbon Dioxide metering, sensing, and detection. CO2Meter designs, manufactures and distributes industry leading devices to consumers and companies in diverse business segments. Mr. Pringle has put together a series of articles providing advice, from a company’s perspective, on interviewing. This post is the last one for the spring term.

InterviewDiversityThe reason something becomes a cliché is because it actually has truth to it. So when I say, “First impressions are everything,” I really do mean it. Especially when interviewing for an internship or job. When the interviewer opens the door to greet you for the first time, how you are dressed SCREAMS at them and sets the tone for the conversation you are about to have.

A few notes about dress requirements: Business Attire means a suit and tie (sport coat minimum), Business Casual means dressed nicely but no tie (sorry ladies), and in business circles, Casual means a polo or button shirt or blouse and nice dress pants and dress shoes (not flip flops and Hawaiian shirts).

Here are some important keys to your dress for the future.

1) Everyone, buy a business suit. A suit says “professional” unlike anything else. Men’s Warehouse, Jos. A. Bank, and Brooks Brothers all offer great suits at great prices for the gentlemen.
2) When wearing a tie, keep it tied. Do not wear a tie or your shirt undone. You are interviewing for a job/internship not modeling for GQ.
3) Leave excess jewelry/accessories at home. Think minimal. The cleaner your look, the better. Don’t wear a watch, so you aren’t tempted to check the time. While you are in the interview, there is not a single thing on the planet more important for that time period. Stay focused!
4) Don’t make the interview day the first time you are wearing your new suit. Try it on a few days ahead of time. The idea here is to get comfortable in it because nothing says “I’m nervous” more than someone who is clearly uncomfortable in their clothes.
5) Don’t ruin your outfit with dirty or poorly matched socks and shoes.
6) NO perfume or cologne. What if your interviewer had an ex-husband who wore Polo? Subconsciously she is going to be predisposed to not liking you.

But the best tip I can give you is this: it is far better to be overdressed than underdressed! You can always take off your tie to meet a situation, but unless you keep a spare tie in your car, it’s difficult to add a tie to your outfit. Be the best dressed person in the room. You will be noticed and thought of highly.

Unfortunately part of the interview process, and even the business process overall, is selling yourself. Most people are uncomfortable talking about themselves, what they’ve accomplished, or even what they want to do. Dressing professionally helps ease that “sales” process because, when you are dressed professionally, you are already viewed as a quality candidate.

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