What to Wear as An Interviewer

What Not to Wear When Interviewing a Candidate

“I’m going to wear flip flops, but hey, you wear that suit, ok?”

Interviewing a candidate? You know all about the proper interview techniques, and you hope the candidate does too. He or she should dress professionally (if they don't know what to wear to an interview, then they're in for some trouble), come up with some questions to ask in advance, know a bit about the company, be polite, etc. But what happens when you show up in a t-shirt and flip flops because it just so happens to be casual Friday? What does that say to the candidate? What kind of first impression are you giving about yourself as a professional and about the company as a whole?

Candidates usually take the time to sharpen their skills and be on their toes for an interview. However, hiring managers may not be as serious about making a good, first impression…and that can be a brand killer. As an interviewer, you need to know what to wear.

Picture this: you’re the hiring manager and you’ve got 10 open roles to fill. You work for a terrific employer brand and there’s no shortage of candidates. You feel like you’ve got recruiting under control and don’t need to work hard to find the right people. After all, they want to work for your organization! You can sit back, relax and watch your candidates knock out their competition. You can wear cargo shorts and Jimmy Buffet attire for the interview right? And hey, just to complete the look, you throw in a pair of sunglasses (resting on your gel-spiked hair) and a fresh piece of gum. Who do you need to impress?  The candidates are arriving to see you! They’re going to do all the work, right? Wrong.

Just as your candidates are working hard to show you they’ve got what it takes, they’re also watching you. An interview is not just about what the candidate brings to the table, it’s an opportunity for the candidate to figure you out. The questions in many candidates heads are:

  • Do you take your job seriously?
  • What are you like as a manager?
  • Are you transparent about performance expectations?
  • What is the company culture like?
  • Does the online brand match the in-person experience? Is it consistent or is there a disconnect?
  • Is the environment welcoming and comfortable?

Finding the right candidate is not as easy as you might think. Sure, you work for a great organization and provide fantastic benefits. But so do many of your strongest competitors. The talent pool is shallow and you’ve got to work harder to attract the best talent. You also have the same responsibility for making a good impression. Providing transparent job information and really showing an interest in your candidate is important. Make sure you’ve done your research and are just as prepared.

Dress to Impress: What to wear as an interviewer

You’ve completed your phone screens and are ready to meet these candidates face-to-face. We all work in different office settings and that may present a question or two on what you should wear when interviewing your next candidate. Here are a few tips to keep in mind…

  • Things you would wear to the beach, to mow your lawn, or walk your dog in may not be the best choice for an interview.
  • Chewing gum and propping your feet up on the desk during the interview, not the way to go.
  • Sleeveless tops or showing cleavage is better left to summer days… on your porch… at home.
  • Wear the best clothing you have that best represents your organization’s brand. So, if everyone wears shorts and polo shirts, wear the best you have. Nothing too crazy or loud.
  • If it’s casual Friday and you typically wear business attire, save your jeans for the following Friday and make sure you wear that tie to the interview.
  • If it’s Halloween in the office and you’re determined to be the best vampire EVER, put the fangs on AFTER the interview.

Whether you’re interviewing or being interviewed, we all want to be shown respect. This means showing up on time, dressing appropriately, practicing good hygiene and really showing an interest in each other. We all are representatives of our own brand or that of our organization. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and making the best impression possible.