Do you know what to wear for your job interview? Is a suit always required, or is it too formal? Would you be just fine in khaki pants and a sport coat? What if you’re of the female persuasion—can you wear pants? These are critical issues for job seekers—especially job seekers in medical sales, where looks are very important. What you wear to the interview creates the first impression of you for the hiring manager, which affects his perception of you as a candidate for the rest of the interview. That means it has a direct impact on whether or not you end up with the offer. It’s a big deal.
The good news is, you can control the impression you make on the hiring manager by carefully managing your appearance so that it reinforces, rather than detracts from, the information you’re presenting about why you’re the best candidate for the job. The better news is that it’s not that hard.
A recent survey of medical sales hiring managers shows that most managers prefer candidates who are conservatively dressed and have paid attention to the details. Shoes need to be shined, hair needs to be trimmed and well-maintained (especially any facial hair—but a hair-free face is better), makeup needs to be understated, and your jewelry needs to be in good condition. They will also notice the condition of your portfolio. How well you attend to these details speaks to the interviewer about how well you manage your time.
Conservative dressing means just what it sounds like. Most managers prefer men to wear suits (and if for some reason you don’t wear a suit, you MUST wear a tie). A small portion of the managers surveyed (about 33%) said that they prefer women in suits with a skirt, rather than pants—but the skirt vs. pants issue has no effect on the hiring decisions of 78% of hiring managers. Above all, they want to know that candidates understand how to present themselves as professionals. Candidates must be comfortable, confident, and conservative. Many of the managers had stories of candidates who showed up in wrinkled clothes, too-tight suits, “trashy” outfits, or too-high heels that absolutely put those candidates on the reject list.
The bottom line: Your interview attire is another indicator for the hiring manager uses to evaluate whether or not to hire you. They see it as evidence of your respect for the interviewer and your seriousness about the position. Dressing professionally lets them concentrate on your skills, talents, and experience—while dressing inappropriately just makes them focus on your mistake.