To succeed in an interview you must do everything possible to make a good impression. And that begins with the way you dress. Studies have shown that employers make up their minds about a candidate within the first few minutes of meeting them. And appearance and body language – don’t forget a firm handshake – are what they base that impression on.
Appearances do count, so plan very carefully what you will wear to an interview. Figure out the dress code of the company where you are interviewing and dress appropriately. Dressing appropriately will also boost your confidence and give the impression that you will be able to fit in if hired.
Many job search experts suggest dressing one notch above – or slightly better than – what one would wear for the particularly type of job they’re applying for.
For a carpenter or laborer-type job, wear casual clothes, such as khakis with a long-sleeve, collared shirt. If it’s a professional position where men would usually wear a coat and tie, do the same. Women, unless they’re doing blue-collar work, where they might want to wear long pants and a nice shirt or sweater, should wear a dress, a suit or a nice pants outfit.
Many people who are in reentry and readjusting to life on the outside may not have enough money to buy the type of clothing that some white-collar and office jobs require.
That shouldn’t be a problem, at least not if you live in certain places. There are organizations in cities across the country that give professional clothing to people looking for a job and can’t afford it. These organizations were, in fact, created with just that purpose in mind. Some just provide clothing. Others offer workshops and support to those seeking employment.
Wardrobe for Opportunity in Oakland, Calif., for example, works on all aspects of helping men and women find and keep jobs. Through its Professional Image Program it sponsors private boutiques, where clients can chose interview-quality clothing, and offers professional image coaching.
The organization also holds monthly corporate-sponsored interview clinics, in which clients practice and improve their interview skills. Once they find a job, the six-week Pathways program will help them develop communication and conflict-resolution skills and to develop action plans to achieve success.
Bridge to Success in Chicago also offers clothing assistance, as well as coaching, to men and women to prepare them for interviews.
Career Gear – tagline “a suit, a second chance” – provides economically disadvantaged New York city men not only suits to wear to job interviews but also interview preparation and counseling, a professional development series of workshops and a six-month MAST (Mentoring, Advancement, Success and Transition) program.
Attitudes & Attire in Dallas takes things one step further as far as appearances go. In addition to supplying women with interview outfits and new shoes, it has a program, Hopeful Smiles, that recruits local volunteer dentists to provide dental work for those with impaired smiles.
Clothes the Deal works with partner agencies in the Los Angeles area to provide professional attire to low-income job seekers. It also offers Dress to Impress Workshops that help clients develop a professional image and Follow the Suit, in which recipients are told who donated the suit along with a special story that goes with it. Donors also learn who their suit is being given to and the effect having that suit has on their lives.
Clothes That Work provides interview clothing for men and women in the Dayton, Ohio area, as well as presents workshops that teach people how to make a positive impression in their job interviews.
Dress for Success, an international organization with more than 125 affiliates worldwide, gives women who are referred to it one interview dress, and if they gain employment, up to a week’s worth of clothing. Many affiliates also offer programs that may include the Professional Women’s Group program to help women succeed once they find a job, a Career Center and/or career coaching.
Image and Attitude, located in a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia, helps women in their search for employment with interview attire, as well as professional development and occupational training.
Jackets for Jobs provides underprivileged women in the Detroit area with interview clothing and coaching in job search techniques and employment etiquette.
Suited for Change in Washington, D.C. offers professional attire to low-income women who are looking for work or who have recently become employed.
These are just examples of the programs that exist across the country, and you may find a few others by searching online. You may also want to check with your nearest American Job Center to find out about similar programs in your area.