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A highly competent hiring manager wouldn’t make decisions based on how you look alone. However, in today’s increasingly competitive job market, you want to make sure that all factors contribute to the possibility of your getting the job, down to the tiniest detail such as the print on your blouse or the color of your socks.

When there’s a long list of people lining up for the position you’re after, you want to put your best foot forward, preferably donning the right type of footwear, of course. After all, first impressions play a vital role in the entire job hiring process, and that initial impression is usually formed within the first few seconds of the interview. Make sure you look the part before you leave home – so that all you have to worry about is showing them your substance once you get to the interview room.

While fashion changes direction each season and business cultures have shifted in the past several years, a lot of the conventional rules on what to wear for a job interview are still as relevant and followed today. Leave your style experimentation for your next party or OOTD (outfit of the day) post. For this occasion, you want your clothes to relay an important message, and that message should be: I’m the right person for the job.

How do you dress to an interview? Consider the following tips:

Know the rules, then tweak them accordingly. Men should wear suits; women should wear above the knee skirts. This is a general guideline, but it may not be always be applicable for all. In a lot of cases, it helps to know the rules, and know which ones apply to the particular industry, position and location of the job you’re applying for. For instance, a person applying as a construction worker applying for a summer projectwill not be expected to report for the interview wearing a dark, formal business suit and sharp shoes. In the same way, a person applying as a fashion editor will most likely be judged according to the personal style decisions he or she made for the interview.

Pay attention to the details. There’s no need to wear brand-new, expensive clothing for the interview. The important thing is that the clothes you wear are neat and pressed properly(Tip: wear material that won’t get wrinkled easily as you make the trip to the office). Check for stains, holesor loose threads. Too tight or too loose clothing, loud and garish patterns and over-the top jewelry are no-nos; revealing clothing especially on women are still frowned upon in many industries.

Other interview tips on dressing up for success:

Invest in good grooming. For both men and women, make sure fingernails are neat and cleanly cut. An increasing number of industries are becoming more laid-back about longish hairstyles and facial hair in men, but make sure hair is clean and combed and any beard or moustache is well-groomed.

Do research about the company. Every industry has its own culture, and within each industry, every company will have its own quirks and value sets. If you can find a way to know about specific details about the office or department (such as whether they veer more toward professional, business casual or casual wear), you may be able to make your outfit more matched to the company’s dress code. As always, it’s better to be a little bit over-formal than under-dressed for the occasion.

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