How should one dress for an interview?

DragonClaw

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As I understand it, most places will not be impressed if you show up in cargo pants and black boots.

I'll admit, I don't like slacks (mostly the lack of pockets and how tight they are) and I'm not really a fan of blouses.

Would a nice pair of jeans, cowboys boots and a pearl snap buttondown be sufficient for looking nice? (I'm in Texas, for reference).

I'd forgo the hat. (Unfortunately)

Supposing slacks are the way to go, (I'd have to go shopping, yuck), what kind of shoes go with that? I only have boots and 1 pair of tennis shoes. Thigh high suede, walking boots, old walking boots, shin high snow rated hunting boots, cowboy boots, EMS workboots...

Also, if hair is barely shoulder length, should it be put up?
 

DrParasite

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if you are a guy, go shopping, buy a pair of nice slacks. Every man should own at least one pair of dress pants that fit. Ditto dress shoes.

I would imagine the same rules apply for women, but I really don't know. But the internet knows all....


Avoid anything EMS. no cargo pants, no work boots, no uniform attire at all.

In general, I would avoid jeans, avoid cowboy boots, and definitely the hat. skip the pearl snap buttons downs. Go buy a real blouse, with real buttons, some dress pants or skirt (look at the links above, they are written by people more knowledgeable than I about women's details). Even if you only wear it to interviews, you have that stuff in your closet for when you need it.

You're trying to make a good, positive, and professional impression, to someone who doesn't know you, and convince them to hire you instead of everyone else who is applying.
 

mgr22

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Neat, clean business attire is what you need. Your outfit is an early indicator of your judgment.

You want to project a mature, responsible demeanor. There are plenty of ways to do that; cargo pants, sneakers and hiking boots are not among them. A conservative blouse with slacks sounds fine. You don't have to like wearing them. I never enjoyed wearing a tie, but sometimes I had to. Maybe you can borrow items you don't have. Just make sure they fit.

No, shoulder length hair does not have to be worn up.
 

jgmedic

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When in doubt, suit up. If it's a public agency, always wear a suit. Private agencies vary, but it definitely looks more professional. Written tests, physicals, all a different story. But panel interviews or management, you can't go wrong. Whether you like to wear it or not is irrelevant. Better to be overdressed than underdressed.
 

DragonClaw

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When in doubt, suit up. If it's a public agency, always wear a suit. Private agencies vary, but it definitely looks more professional. Written tests, physicals, all a different story. But panel interviews or management, you can't go wrong. Whether you like to wear it or not is irrelevant. Better to be overdressed than underdressed.
What if I wear something more "fancy" but then there's a physical they didn't tell me about? I mean, I'll ask. But, won't that be kind of weird?
 

jgmedic

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What if I wear something more "fancy" but then there's a physical they didn't tell me about? I mean, I'll ask. But, won't that be kind of weird?
Most reputable agencies will be up front about it. If you're worried about it, throw a set of gym gear in the car.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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What if I wear something more "fancy" but then there's a physical they didn't tell me about? I mean, I'll ask. But, won't that be kind of weird?
Bring a change of clothes. Keep it in your car.

The way you dress for an interview is a lot different than the way you dress for an agility test or any physical activity. If you are going for an interview, dress up. if you are going for physical exam, dress for the part. if they are going to interview you after your agility exam, dress for the agility exam; they won't care what you are wearing.

However, you can always ask them ahead of time what their interview process involves. Most will tell you if it involves physical activity,written exam, scenario, or just a panel interview.
 

mgr22

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What if I wear something more "fancy" but then there's a physical they didn't tell me about? I mean, I'll ask. But, won't that be kind of weird?
Not only that, but you might get a flat tire on the way and smudge your slacks.

Seriously, I suggest you focus on the unanimous replies you got to your original question and resolve to work around whatever else happens -- sort of like in EMS.
 

DragonClaw

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I'm probably just getting overly worked up. Sigh. I have a lot riding on this. Have to remind myself to breathe.
 

mgr22

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I'm probably just getting overly worked up. Sigh. I have a lot riding on this. Have to remind myself to breathe.
That's understandable. Let me give you some other suggestions to consider.

Try thinking of the interview as a two-way street. If you're conscientious, compassionate and reliable, you're offering prospective employers something of value: yourself. Yes, it's a buyer's market, but your good qualities still count.

Do your best to look professional. Arrive early. Be respectful but not fawning. Ask a good question or two. Be honest, but don't answer questions that aren't asked. Act like you want to work there. Deal with the unexpected as best you can. That's pretty much all you can do. If you don't get the job, there'll be others.

Good luck.
 

Chimpie

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@DragonClaw Just took a peek at your profile - female.

So yeah -
  • dress pants
  • nice blouse
  • jacket if you have one, but not required
  • hair down is fine
  • not a lot of makeup
Warning: Rambling ahead...

First impressions are a real thing. During an interview process, every moment you're "on stage". From the moment you pull into the agency parking lot, step out of your vehicle, walk into the building, see the receptionist, etc., you're being watched. If someone is getting ready to enter the building at the same time, hold the door open for them and say hello. It might just be the person who will be interviewing you. :) If someone opens the door for you, say thank you.

While in the waiting room, sit up straight, don't stare at your phone, be aware of what is going on around you. If you have a portfolio, keep it on your lap. It'll give you something to do with your hands. You can also write down interview tips in it to review while you're waiting.

Anyone and everyone you see, smile at them. Always sir and ma'am, always 'yes' and 'no', not 'yeah' or 'nah'. Combine them when answering questions (yes ma'am). When they offer you a seat, say thank you sir/ma'am.

Don't be in a rush to answer questions. It's okay to take a few seconds to form the answer in your head before speaking. Don't lie, ever.

Remember to shake hands when you meet someone. Have a good firm but pleasant handshake.

Have two to three questions ready to ask about the agency. "What separates you from the other agencies in the area?" "What is the on-boarding process like?" Questions like that. After all that, if they don't offer the information, you should ask what the next step in the process is. That way you know what to expect.

Finally, if you are given a business card, drop an email later that day thanking them for the opportunity to interview. Tell them you are very interested in a position with them and look forward to hearing back from them.

/ramble
 

DragonClaw

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@DragonClaw Just took a peek at your profile - female.

So yeah -
  • dress pants
  • nice blouse
  • jacket if you have one, but not required
  • hair down is fine
  • not a lot of makeup
Warning: Rambling ahead...

First impressions are a real thing. During an interview process, every moment you're "on stage". From the moment you pull into the agency parking lot, step out of your vehicle, walk into the building, see the receptionist, etc., you're being watched. If someone is getting ready to enter the building at the same time, hold the door open for them and say hello. It might just be the person who will be interviewing you. :) If someone opens the door for you, say thank you.

While in the waiting room, sit up straight, don't stare at your phone, be aware of what is going on around you. If you have a portfolio, keep it on your lap. It'll give you something to do with your hands. You can also write down interview tips in it to review while you're waiting.

Anyone and everyone you see, smile at them. Always sir and ma'am, always 'yes' and 'no', not 'yeah' or 'nah'. Combine them when answering questions (yes ma'am). When they offer you a seat, say thank you sir/ma'am.

Don't be in a rush to answer questions. It's okay to take a few seconds to form the answer in your head before speaking. Don't lie, ever.

Remember to shake hands when you meet someone. Have a good firm but pleasant handshake.

Have two to three questions ready to ask about the agency. "What separates you from the other agencies in the area?" "What is the on-boarding process like?" Questions like that. After all that, if they don't offer the information, you should ask what the next step in the process is. That way you know what to expect.

Finally, if you are given a business card, drop an email later that day thanking them for the opportunity to interview. Tell them you are very interested in a position with them and look forward to hearing back from them.

/ramble
Yeah. I mean, I don't mind wearing a suit, I mean, lady suits are a thing, right? But my dad's isn't going to fit me, lol.

But, for jackets, I'm not sure if what I've got will match dress clothes. Two thick hunting jackets (camo), four trench coats, 4 rain jackets. One's plain and all black. I'm debating wearing that once.

I don't actually own makeup aside from costume/Halloween makeup (someone has to help me with it. I don't know how to use it) and that's all crazy colors anyway. I hope no makeup is okay, too. It's not expected, is it?

I'm good at looking people in the eye, having a firm handshake and the yes sir no sir stuff. I got hit too much to not say sir or ma'am.

And if anything, I'm brutally honest to my detriment. I'm a terrible liar and my face reveals what I'm thinking to a degree. I have a terrible poker face. I don't bother lying. I'll have to hold back answers to questions they don't ask.

And thank you for all the information everyone. I'll put it to good use. To my chargrin, I'll have to go clothes shopping. Wish me luck.
 

Chimpie

Site Administrator
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But, for jackets, I'm not sure if what I've got will match dress clothes. Two thick hunting jackets (camo), four trench coats, 4 rain jackets. One's plain and all black. I'm debating wearing that once.
No rain jackets, hunting jackets or the sort. Wear a suit jacket.

I know shopping may be a pain, but remember this: you're going to spend an hour shopping and maybe a hundred dollars on clothes that will in turn, bring you in an annual salary, pay your bills, put a roof over your head, and food in your stomach. What you spend on clothes you'll probably make back in the first day or two of work. :)
 

DragonClaw

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No rain jackets, hunting jackets or the sort. Wear a suit jacket.

I know shopping may be a pain, but remember this: you're going to spend an hour shopping and maybe a hundred dollars on clothes that will in turn, bring you in an annual salary, pay your bills, put a roof over your head, and food in your stomach. What you spend on clothes you'll probably make back in the first day or two of work. :)
Ergh.

No, I know it will be worth it. I'm just seeing if it was avoidable and it's unanimously not.

Yeah, oh boy. And I'm not on good terms with female family members that live with me or even in the same town. I get tired if the insults, theft, aggression, alcoholism and addiction from them. It's uh, it's fun times.

So, sorry I come on here seeming like an ignorant child. I really do appreciate all the advice I've been given.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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Yeah, oh boy. And I'm not on good terms with female family members that live with me or even in the same town. I get tired if the insults, theft, aggression, alcoholism and addiction from them. It's uh, it's fun times.
Don't take this the wrong way, but nobody cares. Everyone has a past, but you can't let it affect your future, especially if you it gives people a negative impression of you. Your support structure might not be what you want it to be growing up, but you can't let it define you or permit it to cause you problems in your career. Everyone has a past, and some might be even worse than yours.


Go to a store, and find a saleswoman (yes, i said woman in this area, because they are likely more helpful with women fashion than most men). Tell then what you need, and why you need it, and let them bring you options. I guarantee, you aren't the first person to be in this situation, and you won't be the last. Ask random people in the store what they think of your attire, as they will judge you just like any prospective interviewer. As @Chimpie said, you need a dress jacket, not a rain, hunting, or whatever exterior coat. buy it once, keep it in your closet for special occasions. It will pay off in the long term.
 

KingCountyMedic

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Lots of great advice here. Social Media: Clean it up if you have it. I look folks up on FB or whatever a lot just to see what they do and say over social media. Wash your car and clean out the inside. Dr. C used to ask people if their car was clean inside/out and if they said yes he'd go out and look. If you lied about your car being clean you didn't get into school.
 

DragonClaw

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Lots of great advice here. Social Media: Clean it up if you have it. I look folks up on FB or whatever a lot just to see what they do and say over social media. Wash your car and clean out the inside. Dr. C used to ask people if their car was clean inside/out and if they said yes he'd go out and look. If you lied about your car being clean you didn't get into school.
What if it was dirty and you told the truth?

I cleaned mine once already, will do it again to tidy things up.
 

jgmedic

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Lots of great advice here. Social Media: Clean it up if you have it. I look folks up on FB or whatever a lot just to see what they do and say over social media. Wash your car and clean out the inside. Dr. C used to ask people if their car was clean inside/out and if they said yes he'd go out and look. If you lied about your car being clean you didn't get into school.
Many FD's do this, one around here gave specific instructions on where and how to park, went outside prior to the beginning of the test, made a list of the cars that were not done properly and then dismissed those people from the process.
 
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