Attire for Hire: How appearance can make or break your interview

1234From the desk of Logan Sand, Talent Acquisition.


30 seconds.

And, that’s about it.

According to Forbes, first impressions are usually formed within the first 30 seconds of meeting an interview candidate. Whether it’s reflective of your ambition, your mindset, your decision making, well, that’s a conversation for another blog. However, being able to physically exude that internal confidence is directly tied to your appearance.

Step back to the 1950’s. Think about Mad Men, for example. Everyone is in a suit, a suit skirt, blouse, and shirt and tie, always dressed to the nines. It was a commonality to dress in a formal suit during the work week. Fast forward to 2016: roughly 9 percent of the workforce continues to maintain the formal dress code. If you know anything about Bridge Logistics, we continue to expand the corporate norm; it’s not uncommon to see our staff in everything from T-shirts and shorts, gym shoes and jeans.  We believe in having a relaxed dress code, and hey – as long as I’m not meeting with clients or candidates – I’m all about wearing a ¼ zip pullover, jeans and Sanuks (it’s kind of my thing).

But I didn’t land at Bridge walking into the office in jeans.

Your professional appearance is a big piece of the interview. You can have a great resume, you can have credentials, awards, and endorsements on LinkedIn, but at the end of the day if you walk in looking like you’ve pulled your clothes out of the hamper, you can be dismissed from the process quickly.


So, you’ve got an interview. What to wear? Here’s my advice.

1. It’s okay to ask. If you’re confused about a company policy and their attire, it’s alright to reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager and simply ask, “What’s the recommended dress code for the interview?”, and they’ll tell you. When I have a candidate ask, I’ll tell them. NOTE: emphasize the dress code for the INTERVIEW, not the company policy. These can potentially be very different.

 2. You can always dress it down, but you can’t dress it up. If you walk into an interview with Jeans, and everyone else has on chinos, slacks, and skirts, you will instantly feel out of place. If you wear a suit, a suit-skirt, it’s easy to adjust formal wear to a business casual environment. Take off the jacket. Remove the tie. Roll up the sleeves.

 3. Dressing nice doesn’t mean expensive. This topic is brought up  when I speak on Q & A panels with college students. The assumption seems to be, “If I buy a suit, I’m going to be strapped for cash”. Remember that a good suit and/or nice professional clothes are an investment in your career. There are great websites our there with reasonably-priced suiting, like Combatant Gentleman, with suits under $200. If the investment is too much right now, ask for clothing for Christmas, Birthdays, Graduation, etc.  At the very least, you might even have a friend that’s close to your size and style who you could borrow the suit, and dry clean it for them. Think creatively when on the hunt for professional attire.

Colors, patterns, textures and fit. This is a big one. A sloppy over-sized suit will instantly make you look messy. If you have a mustard-yellow plaid suit that looks like it came from 1977, you’ll look dated. If you’re wearing a heavy wool suit and interviewing in July, you’ll probably sweat through the suit, and it’s seasonably the wrong choice. You get the idea. When investing for that right professional attire, it’s best to go with a “4-season” material, and timeless colors, such as navy or charcoal.  Fit is always crucial; not too loose, but not too tight. Ladies and Gentleman alike – if your shirt or blouse is 2 sizes too small, you might be giving off the wrong impression.

 5. Appearance also means hygiene. I cannot stress about hygiene enough. You can have a perfect attire, but if you have messy hair, facial hair, ear wax, dry skin, bad breath, body odor… it does not go unnoticed. As ridiculous as this may sound, you would be surprised how many do not focus on hygiene, or can sweat off the deodorant before they shake the first hand. Before you walk into the interview, it never hurts to do an overall check to make sure you look and feel like a million bucks.


As the recruiting season is upon us, and job growth is strong in 2016, I hope these tips help you on your first impression and attire for hire! Best of luck, and dress well!




Logan Sand oversees Talent Acquisition efforts at Bridge Logistics in Cincinnati, OH. If you’re in search to launch your career, have a company build into your success, and work in a vibrant corporate culture, Bridge Logistics may be the right fit for you. See our openings.

Bridge Logistics is continuing to grow, adding 30+ positions in Ohio, doubling in size. Read more about our strategic job growth! >>