What do I wear to the interview? It’s a question millions of people agonize over on some level while looking for a job.

The bad news is that there are few cut-and-dried answers. As the saying goes, there’s no accounting for taste, and each interviewer has his unique sense of what’s appropriate interview attire. The good news? Deciding what to wear isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Dress One or Two Levels Up

“The rule of thumb is that you dress one or two levels higher than the job that you’re going for,” explains Kate Wendleton, president and founder of the Five O’Clock Club, a national career counseling and outplacement firm. “If you were going for a job as a mechanic, you wouldn’t go in there in dirty overalls, even though that’s how you would dress for that kind of work. You would still go in there and show respect. You would go in with an open-collar shirt, clean pants and maybe a jacket.”

As Wendleton puts it, by dressing a notch or two above what’s standard apparel for the position you’re interviewing for, “you’re definitely showing that you care about this job, and that you know the game.”

Caution Is The Better Part of Valor

When it’s time to get dressed for the interview, remember: It’s not so much that you’re trying to get the job with what you wear; rather, it’s more a matter of not taking yourself out of contention with your presentation, Wendleton says. “Interviewers can decide in 10 seconds that they don’t want you,” she adds. “It will take them longer to decide they do want you.” Chances are good that by dressing on the conservative side, you won’t unintentionally disqualify yourself. But trying to demonstrate how hip you are with your exposed lower back tattoos or laid-back Juicy Couture outfit could backfire.

This Isn’t 1999

Once upon a time during the dotcom heyday, “people would come in with nose rings and sandals, and because there really was a severe labor shortage, they’d get hired,” Wendleton recounts.

She says that young, freshly minted grads often make the mistake these days of going too casual, perhaps confusing what once was with what now is. “These days, people are not desperate for you,” she says. “Recent grads tend to dress like they’re students at interviews. Nobody forgives that. Not in this market.”

Use Your Judgment

Is a suit always a must in an interview? Absolutely not. Michael Smith, who recently searched for a job in the Chicago area, went on an interview in the midst of a bitter cold snap in that region. “So instead of wearing a suit, I wore black slacks and a sweater,” Smith says. “The sweater was large and cable-knit but very nice and high quality. The interviewer actually said to me that it was nice to see something other than a suit walk through his door. And a week later, I got the job.”

So be sure to learn about an industry’s fashion culture; some are obviously more casual than others. It’s also usually fine to inquire about the dress code while setting up the interview. An Armani coat and tie or your nice Ann Taylor outfit may not be required if you discover the dress code is casual.

“But it’s never fine to go in with a collarless shirt,” Wendleton warns. And for men, she suggests putting on a jacket, even when not wearing a tie.

You Might Not Want to Be Too True to Yourself

There are those who say it’s pointless to dress for an interview in a way that you wouldn’t once you’re on the job. Why misrepresent yourself to a future employer or try to be someone you’re not?

“If you want to have eight earrings and have your tongue pierced, that’s fine,” Wendleton says. “But you’re showing you don’t know how to play the game. If it’s so important to you, go ahead and dress like you normally do, but realize that you may not get the job.”


“There’s this out of date idea of how a man should behave – I think that’s what’s killing men”

Rising singer-songwriter Sam Fender has spoken out about mental health, tackling ‘toxic masculinity’ and the inspiration behind his new single ‘Dead Boys’.

Recently signed to Polydor Records, Tyneside’s Fender’s latest track was named as Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record In The World’ when it premiered on BBC Radio One this week – and furthers his reputation for searing guitar

“It’s a song about male suicide, particularly in my hometown,” Fender told NME. “I lost some friends very close to me because of that. This song came from that place, and I have been playing it to other people ever since. It’s raised a conversation and I realised how much of a present issue it is. Everybody that I spoke to from all different parts of the country have all got a connection to someone they’ve lost.

“It really opened my eyes to how much of an issue it is. If it gets to one person and they feel like they should reach out and talk to somebody, then it has done a good job.”

What do you think it is that holds people back from speaking out?

Sam: “I genuinely think it’s toxic masculinity and the idea of what a man is supposed to be. This really archaic, out of date idea of how a man is supposed to conduct himself. I think that’s what kills men, genuinely. I have personally struggled with that, growing up and being a young lad in 2018 in Newcastle. I think everyone does. There are a lot of challenges we are facing; like how you are supposed to react to emotional stress. I’ve got no shame in it. I was told not to cry as a kid. It’s that sort of backwards attitude, so when we feel bad we feel ashamed or we feel like embarrassed.

“I remember specifically for me as a kid growing up or as a young teenager if I ever cried or got upset in front of anybody, I would be so humiliated. I’d be so angry with myself for being upset and then it would just become this catch 22 situation. It’s that attitude that stops men from talking and stops men from being like able to turn to each other. Me and my mates are very, very close. We all talk about our problems – especially as we’ve got older. But I  don’t think a lot of people have that. Men just need to be open and not emasculate one another.”

What does it mean to have a track like this out there and received on such a huge scale?

Sam: “It’s pretty fucking overwhelming, to be honest with you. I’ve had messages on Instagram from loads of people who have come out and talked about their stories or their experiences. I expected there would be a little bit of that but I didn’t realise how much I was going to get. In the first night of it being out I had loads of people sending messages, saying ‘Thanks so much for raising the conversation’ and then being like ‘My brother or my friend or someone took their life and it’s unfair’. I don’t want to act like I’m on some kind of crusade because I’m not – but I do think it’s important to acknowledge that it’s a problem. It’s OK to come forward and talk. Getting Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record In The World’ with a song like this means so much.”

Beyond this song, what would you say inspires your lyrics?

Sam: “It’s just what’s in front of me really. My favourite writers are always great storytellers like Bruce Springsteen, I adore Bruce Springsteen. I feel like he doesn’t beat around the bush and he doesn’t overcomplicate things. He puts things into layman’s terms and tells stories that anyone can understand. I still think a lot of his songs still speak to me. I’m not a lad from New Jersey in the ’70s, I’m a lad from the coast Newcastle 2018 and I still feel like it draws a lot of parallels. I like to write about stories and life experiences of me, the people around us and just the things I see on the telly without overcomplicating things. I’m not like a university educated scholar, I just sing what I see.”