How to Dress for Informational Interviews
Although they are unofficial, information interviews require you to dress for success as job offers often result from these informal meetings.
by Rita Gworek
During the course of a job search, you may have the opportunity to participate in an information interview. Information interviews provide the opportunity to get inside information about a particular company or career field without the stress of rejection at the conclusion.
Networking is a Must
Most information interviews are the result of networking as are many jobs. You should start networking aggressively while you are still in the military. Go to association meetings, alumni meetings or any related career field meetings that could cultivate employment leads. You should also remain in contact with former service members who have already made the transition to civilian employment.
Ask one of your former colleagues or someone you trust if they could set up an information interview for you with one of their acquaintances in a particular field you are interested in. Very often information interviews turn into job offers. Since you are there asking questions in a more relaxed atmosphere and being honest about your interest, the person can see your enthusiasm about the career and how you would fit into their field/organization. It costs thousands to hire someone in a position and organizations want to ensure the person they hire will fit in and want to stay. Information interviews accomplish this purpose.
Once you have the information interview set up you need to know how to dress for the interview. Remember, you are taking someone else’s valuable time and they deserve your respect. Even if they say to dress casual or dress down, you would not show up in jeans and polo shirt. That would be disrespectful. However, you would not wear a suit or they may think you are there for an interview. So what do you wear?
Take it Up a Notch
If you are told that casual or dress down is the dress code, take it up a notch. Wear khaki pants, a button-down style collared shirt and slip on shoes like a boat shoe or loafer with socks. Now add a sport coat or blazer. This will upscale your look. The person will probably say that you should take off your jacket and make yourself comfortable, but at least you entered “their house” showing them respect.
“Information interviews provide the opportunity to get inside information about a particular company or career field without the stress of rejection at the conclusion.” Make sure your clothes are clean, pressed, and neat. Ensure the shoes are not scuffed or worn out. Polish your shoes the evening before the interview. This also demonstrates respect and conveys a message that you care about the time you are taking away from their busy day. Dressing up shows you value their time.
If you are told the dress code is business casual then you should wear a tie. Wear a sport coat or blazer with a colored dress shirt, casual style tie and dress pants with a slip on shoe like a penny loafer. Again, you may be overdressed but this is better than being underdressed. Do not wear a suit.
If you are told that everyone dresses in business attire, you should wear a suit. The suit should be a dark to medium shade of blue or grey. The suit can be solid or have a faint pin stripe.
The shirt can be white, off-white, light blue or light gray. The tie should be a conservative style with a small repetitive pattern. The color of the tie should be in deep reds, blues, grays or metal colors like silver, pale gold or platinum. The shoes will be a cap-toe or winged-tip style in black.
Clothing Sends a Message
An important issue you need to remember is that your clothing sends a message. Even before you have an opportunity to open your mouth and speak, your clothing has already said something about you. What do you want it to say? This information interview could lead into a job offer so you want to make a good first impression.
“Choosing the right thing to wear for an information interview is important. You want your clothing to say that you are competent, professional, and trustworthy.” Choosing the right thing to wear for an information interview is important. You want your clothing to say that you are competent, professional, and trustworthy.
If you are looking into a creative field then your clothing has to have a certain stylish flair. If you are going into a conservative field then don’t wear something flamboyant. Your clothing has to be suitable for the workplace and not a social engagement.
Good luck and remember to dress to show respect and you will be rewarded.