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Can You Ever Be Overdressed for a Job Interview?

Topics: Career Advice
overdressed for a job interview

Can you be overdressed for a job interview? Conventional wisdom is that dressing up is essential when you’re going on an interview. Think suit and tie, or dress and heels. But the times are changing.

People aren’t dressing for work the way they used to, at least not in some industries. So, should you dress up — or is it possible to overdo it?

In short, yes — it is totally possible to go too fancy when choosing your interview outfit.

“If you’re interviewing at a company known for their low maintenance dress code and company culture, showing up to your interview in a suit will show that you haven’t done your research on the company and the environment,” writes Michele Lando at Create & Cultivate. “Even worse, showing up in a suit could mean that you did research the company and didn’t care about the dress code and rules.”

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Dress appropriately so it’s a non-issue

You want the folks you’re meeting with to see you as the professional you are, so, it makes sense to wear professional clothing. Of course, it’s most important to demonstrate this during the interview itself. You want to show that you’re smart, enthusiastic and highly capable during your conversation.

Wearing the wrong outfit can detract from that good impression. Clothing that’s inappropriate — whether it’s too formal or too casual — can distract the interviewer.

Dress appropriately so that you can forget about what you’re wearing and focus on other more important things during your meeting.

Pay attention to company culture

It’s always a good idea to show that you’ve done your homework when you’re looking for a job. Rather than addressing cover letters “To whom it may concern” for example, do some research and address your letter to the right person. The same principles apply when it comes to thinking about what to wear to an interview.

Research the company culture where you’re applying. If it’s rare that anyone ever dresses up, you might not want to go as far as you would for an interview where professional dress is the norm.

However, it’s still a good idea to be a little more dressed up than you would be for a normal day or work. Doing so shows that you’re taking the opportunity seriously. But, wearing the exact wrong thing could send a message that you’re not a good fit for the company, or that you haven’t done your homework.

Double standards may apply

Mark Zuckerberg famously wears the same hoodie and jeans every day. But Sheryl Sandberg would never do the same. She typically wears a suit and modest heels.

It’s not just a matter of personal style. Women experience a double standard when it comes to professional standards of dress.

“I guarantee if Sue in accounting starts alternating exclusively between a grey skirt and sweater and a blue skirt and sweater, it will hurt her career,” writes Suzanne Lucas at CBS News. “People will start to think she’s a bit strange.”

The same goes for interview attire. As with so many things, men can probably get away with more than women. So if you’re a woman who’s interviewing for a job, it’s worth dressing a little more professionally than you might if you were a man. It’s not fair — but you can’t change the world until you get the job.

If you're a woman who's interviewing for a job, it's worth dressing a little more professionally than you might if you were a man. It's not fair — but you can't change the world until you get the job. Click To Tweet

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