What to Wear on Your Interview

You’ve got a great resume and your foot in the door with an interview, now what?  Studies show that people form their first impression of within seven seconds of meeting you.  Some psychologists also are finding that just a tenth of a second is all it takes for someone to start determining your character traits, like trustworthiness.  Like it or not, how you look and what you wear can make or break your interview.   

Expectations for interview dress can vary depending on your position, industry, and company.   When it comes to dress and personal grooming, a skilled trades interview is no different than any other, but there may be some variations depending on the expectations in the interview.  Here are some great pointers and questions to ask before you’re interview to keep you on track. 

Be Prepared

Generally, a skilled trades interview will be in a business casual setting, however, it’s best to do your homework and find out what the dress code is in the office where you will be interviewing.  In a skilled trades interview, you may be asked to take a facility or site tour or asked to perform field exam.  Again, ask your interviewer or contact if this may occur in your interview, so you can dress appropriately.  If you do not have access to ask someone, be prepared for any situation. 

Best Practices for Business Casual

  • Pressed khaki or dark slacks or pants work well.  Touring a plant/work site is often included in an interview, so you’ll want to be prepared for that in how you dress. 
  • Long-sleeved, button-down dress shirts are also appropriate. 
  • If the business has a particularly casual dress code, jeans and a polo/blouse may be appropriate.
  • Closed-toe shoes should always be worn.  Shoes and belt should match.  Some environments may even require that you wear steel-toe shoes.
  • Belts should fit correctly and be understated.
  • Keep jewelry simple and make sure it does not interfere if you’re asked to perform a field test.

It Goes Without Saying…

Always make sure you’re clean and well-groomed.  Even if you know you need to dress for a field exam, choose clothes that will make a good first impression and are safe for the work area.  Choose neatly pressed, clean, and new-looking clothing.  Ensure there are no tears, holes, or stains on your clothes or shoes.  You may get dirty on the job, but you want to look clean and professional for your interview.

  • Have clean and trimmed fingernails.
  • Take care not to have body odor, but don’t overdo it with cologne or perfume.
  • Be sure to have fresh breath, but do not have gum or candy in your mouth.
  • If you don’t know the company’s policy on tattoos and facial piercings, it’s best to cover them up and take them out until you know what’s acceptable in the workplace.
  • Make sure your hair is properly combed and styled.
  • Men should make sure facial hair is neatly trimmed.

A note on Traditional Business Attire…

While most skilled trades interviews will not require “traditional” business attire because it’s not what would be worn in your field, you may be interviewing at a corporate office where business attire is appropriate. If so, a well-tailored suit or dress trousers in a dark color, dress shirt, and jacket is appropriate.  A skirt suit or work dress also works well.  It’s best to choose grey, navy-blue, or black and avoid patterns and florals. 

Above all, strive to create an impression that suggests cleanliness, attention to detail, and respectfulness for your potential employer.  Your appearance suggests to your interviewer that you take the same pride in your appearance that you intend to take in your work.