Guest post by Tyler Silvera
So you’ve got an upcoming interview for a blue collar job, and you don’t want to mess up the first impression. After all, first impressions determine how the hiring manager reacts to you emotionally. It can even be the make-or-break factor between you and the other candidate waiting outside.
Most people think that dressing up applies only to corporate interviews. This isn’t strictly the case. While there are no strict rules when it comes to the blue collar profession, showing up in sloppy jeans and a wrinkled shirt can leave a bad impression no matter what the job may be.
As such, we’ve thrown together a guide so that aspiring employees like you aren’t left clueless on your big job interview.
Business vs. Casual
For many applicants, the first question is always “Do I wear a suit or go casual?”
The answer depends on the job you’re applying for. The traditional formal suit or skirt is still the best choice when being interviewed for an office position. The same rule applies to large corporations, even if the employees typically go casual (for example, at call centers).
On the other hand, it’s okay to go casual for industries that don’t need business attire. A construction company or a trucking firm, for instance, are two such fields where showing up in a suit makes you look out of place. This doesn’t mean that both industries are not professional. Rather, when it comes to work attire, the nature of the work places more emphasis on practicality than looking sleek. The exception for this is if you’re applying to an executive or other high-level position, particularly one where you will interact with formal business people at outside companies.
When in doubt, go for a smart casual look. Put on your best shirt and a dark pair of jeans, and throw on a nicely cut jacket. For ladies, a blouse and jeans will do the trick when paired with a nice pair of dress shoes. Also, if you really aren’t sure, it’s okay to ask the hiring manager what is appropriate dress. If anything, he or she will appreciate your attention to detail and the fact that you care about fitting in with the company culture.
How casual is too casual?
So you’ve figured out that people in the workplace wear casual clothing. Just because everyone is wearing rumpled jeans doesn’t mean you can come in your paint-stained Levi’s – you have to get past the gatekeeper first. And to do this, it pays to put yourself in his or her shoes.
Imagine you’re a recruiter facing dozens of applicants per day. Who makes a better impression — the guy in the KYSS t-shirt and worn sneakers, or the pleasant-looking gentleman in a clean collared shirt and polished shoes?
The general rule is to dress similarly to the other people in the workplace, but to wear your very best version of it. By placing yourself above the norm, the people you meet will see how important the interview is for you, earning you points for professionalism and conduct simply through your attire.
Dos and Don’ts
There are plenty of small details that, when overlooked, can land you lower in the applicant ladder.
Here are some practical dos and don’ts for your non-corporate interview.
- Wear your best clothing – By best, we don’t necessarily mean your Sunday best.
Wear the best version of what other people are wearing in the workplace. If it’s a t-shirt and jeans environment, don’t just throw on what you normally wear. Look for your best shirt and denim combo, and make sure you examine both for spots, stains or loose threads.
- Cover up – Excessive display of skin is always a no-no for HR. This makes you look unprofessional and uncaring.
For men, avoid shirts are too tight or too short (you don’t want your behind sticking out when you bend over!). Women should avoid sleeveless tops, like tanks and spaghetti straps. The same applies for low-cut blouses, miniskirts and anything that exposes too much skin or cleavage.
- Pay attention to your accessories – No matter how good your attire, the whole outfit can be ruined by simple things like that cap or bag you normally don’t pay attention to.
- Under-dress – Coming in wearing shorts and flip-flops make you look like a customer or a lost tourist, not someone serious about the job.
- Wear stained clothes – Go through your outfit for any stains, wrinkles or spots one last time before heading out the door.
- Wear statement shirts – Shirts with slogans, funny captions, and other distracting designs can detract from an otherwise spotless resume and appearance, thus lowering your chances of getting hired.
Your turn — What are your top tips for blue collar interviews?