One-tenth of a second. That’s how long it takes for the average hiring manager to form an impression of you.
And that’s why, a couple days before my interview with a big media company, I was seriously stressing about what to wear. As soon as I walked in the door, the hiring managers would be assessing whether or not I looked like a good fit. If my outfit matched the general dress code, I’d be that much closer to getting the job.
I needed to figure out what the employees themselves were wearing. To do this, I turned to social media.
Step 1: Find the Company and See What People Wear on a Daily Basis
Almost every company has multiple social accounts. For this purpose, you specifically want pictures of the team in the office on a normal day—and not at their quarterly dinner out or annual trip to Mexico.
I’ve found the company’s Facebook is your best bet for these types of photos. Check out this photo from Eventbrite’s page:
Based on this, I can tell Eventbrite’s dress code is business casual. You’ve got a guy in a button-up, and a woman in a stylish blazer.
Here’s a snap I found on Rubicon Project’s Facebook. From this, I can assume their office is a little more casual—four people are wearing jeans!
If you don’t have any luck on Facebook, I’d suggest looking at the Instagram accounts of the company as well as the people who work there. (Want more details? Check out my in-depth guide to using Instagram to land the job.)
You can also search the company’s blog. It took me less than three seconds to find in-office snaps from HomeAway—I just searched “HomeAway blog” on Google, clicked the “Company Life” category, and voilà.
The HomeAway team is also pretty relaxed; lots of jeans and cotton t-shirts, with the occasional button-up.
I was super excited when I found out the company at which I was interviewing had a profile on the Muse. After all, you don’t have to dig around the dark corners of the internet—there’s a ton of photos and videos right there.
Take a look at this from Stack Exchange’s office.
Some nice sweaters, some button-ups, some henleys—the woman in the lower right-hand corner is even wearing a sweatshirt! I’m getting the feeling this company isn’t overly strict about its employee uniform.
Twitter is worth checking out as well.
Right away, I discovered this shot:
I’m going to guess you won’t find a lot of denim in the Bozzuto offices.
One last thing: You don’t have to look at the Facebook page, Instagram account, Muse profile, and Twitter for every job you apply to—but you might want to! While it’s a time investment, you’ll pick up insight into the company far beyond the dress code. And everything you learn can be used in your resume, cover letter, and interviews to demonstrate you truly get the company culture—and belong there.
Step 2: Pick Out an Outfit
Unless the employees you see are dressed very formally (suits, ties, heels, you know the drill), you should look at what they’re wearing—and then take the formality up one level. This strategy ensures you don’t look disrespectful or like you’re not taking the interview seriously, while still keeping you in the realm of what the real employees dress like every day.
Let’s go back to HomeAway. Even though the team was wearing jeans, you should never wear regular old jeans to an interview. Instead, I’d go with straight-leg slacks, flats, a stylish top, a jacket, and some nice jewelry. Basically, I’d wear a slightly more polished version of the HomeAway employees’ everyday look.
For a man, I’d suggest a button-up with rolled sleeves tucked into dark pants, and some loafers or leather dress shoes.
If I saw pictures that showed the employees wore very conservative outfits, I’d steer away from anything sleeveless, short or clingy, distracting, too bright, or overly trendy. Instead, I’d wear a knee-length pencil skirt with a suit jacket and low heels; guys should go with suit and ties—and hey, no crazy ties, either! (Need more inspiration? Read our article on conservative outfits that are actually cute.)
On the other hand, if the team is decked out in edgy pieces that showcase their personal styles, I’d follow their lead and wear something more fashion-forward—the employers would definitely be searching for someone who understands and fits into a creative environment.
Once you’ve combed the social media accounts of your target company, you should have a great understanding of what the perfect interview outfit will be. Which means you’ll nail one of the most important parts of the interview—that first 1/10 of a second—before you even have to say a word.