Interview prep is difficult. It’s even more difficult if you’re a career changer or if you haven’t interviewed for several years. Many factors can go into creating a perfect interview scenario: what kind of paper your resume is printed on, what your hair looks like, what time to arrive, and what to wear. Let’s discuss the last one in detail.

Choosing what you wear to an interview can be difficult when it comes to industries that don’t typically conform to a “business” or “business casual” dress code on a regular basis. That is especially true for the Information Technology industry. In general, it’s a pretty casual dress code for many IT offices. Generally, it’s jeans, khakis, polo shirts or t-shirts, etc. If this dress code is something that you want in a new IT job, be sure to do some research before applying. Some IT teams work in highly visible and very professional areas of an organization and may require dress pants/slacks, long sleeve button-up or blouse, and may have restrictions on hair coloring, facial hair, and piercings – a little homework can go a long way in determining if you’re comfortable with the dress code for a particular company.

OK, now that we have the typical day-to-day outfit that your potential colleagues might wear to work addressed, let’s focus on what you need to wear to get the job! Even if the dress code is jeans and t-shirts for employees, you still need to put on a pair of dress pants/slacks and a button-up shirt/blouse (I recommend against wearing sleeveless tops or super bright colors). Men should wear a professional tie, no cartoon characters or sports teams. If you don’t own a pair of dress shoes and/or can’t afford them, be sure that the shoes you are wearing are clean. You want your first impression to say, “I want this job, I am a professional, and I can look professional if/when I need to for your clients and customers.” (Pro-tip: It’s not always easy to afford an entirely new outfit for your interview. If you’re having difficulty attaining interview-ready clothing, organizations like Bridge to Success and Dress For Success can help!)

An additional note for the above, if you’re working with a recruiter, it’s completely okay to ask them what you should wear. From my personal experience, there are a few companies that expect all interviewees to be in business professional wear and others that want people to dress casual. If your recruiter doesn’t know, follow the advice above. If they tell you to wear a specific outfit, it’s highly recommended that you follow their advice. Remember – they are not paid unless you are hired, so they want you to succeed in your interview!

Good luck!