First impressions count. And while it would be wonderful if we didn’t judge people by their appearance, we do. How someone presents themselves makes a difference on how they’re perceived. We all do this. You see someone who is professionally groomed and dressed, and they put forth a confident impression, and you immediately give them a bit of credibility and trust.
Conversely, you see someone who isn’t well put together, even if they’re a little disheveled, and it can chip away at their credibility. While you can overcome this type of first impression, it can take a bit of time. You have to get to know someone to understand who they are and what they have to offer.
Unfortunately, you don’t have that kind of time during interviews, conferences, and other networking events. And really, why should you work extra hard to change a first impression when making a great first impression is actually pretty straightforward? Let’s take a look at a handful of tips and tactics to dress for success and make a strong first impression.
1. How Formal Is Too Formal? The tech industry is a tricky one for choosing appropriate attire. Many companies are quite casual, while others can be extremely traditional. So how do you know how you’re supposed to dress? Will a suit be too fancy? Too stuffy? It depends.
The general rule of thumb is that it’s always better to be a little overdressed than underdressed. A company may appear casual, but that doesn’t mean you wear a pair of kakis and a t-shirt to the interview. Instead, you might wear dress pants and a well-pressed button up.
Do your research and find out how management dresses. If they wear suits, then wear a suit to the interview. It may mean parking outside the building for an afternoon and watching people leave. Don’t do this on a Friday because Fridays are often casual and you may get the wrong impression.
2. It Should Fit and Flatter – One of the biggest mistakes people make when dressing for an interview or any other more formal event, is they pull out their one suit or their one pair of dress pants. This is the suit that you have had for the past five or more years. And let’s face it; most people gain a few pounds over the course of five or more years. That suit may not fit like it is supposed to. Don’t go to an interview or networking event in clothes that are loose fitting or too tight.
3. Shoes and Accessories – Nothing that you wear should distract from your face. That means not wearing flashy accessories. It also means that any accessories that you do wear, including your shoes, should be in good condition.
Interviewing and networking are both opportunities. It’s important to present yourself in the best light possible. By dressing appropriately for the event, you ensure that your clothing and presentation don’t distract from people meeting you and giving you the full attention, respect, and courtesy that you deserve.