- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 14, 2006

The interview outfit. It’s something college seniors save up to buy, young professionals actually put on a hanger and older workers can’t seem to give up even when it’s too small or out of style.

For generations, buying a conservative suit for job interviews was a rite of passage, but times have changed, even if your wardrobe hasn’t.

Yahoo! HotJobs teamed with Banana Republic to conduct a survey about workplace fashion, and some of the most interesting results were about the interview.

More than 25 percent of the 900 human resources recruiters, representing all 50 states, said wearing a business suit to an interview at their company could be too formal.

“What we found is that there’s a new generation of companies that understand that comfort equals productivity. They’re fostering a casual environment to generate great business results,” says Susan Vobejda, HotJobs’ career expert and vice president of marketing.

That doesn’t mean the interview outfit should be an afterthought. Sixty percent of the recruiters suggested that candidates spend at least 30 minutes choosing their clothes for the interview. Hitting the balance between professional and casual takes effort, Miss Vobejda says.

“One thing to understand is that casual doesn’t equal sloppy,” she says. “You want to avoid sloppy or sexy at all costs.”

If you’re unsure about the dress code of a company, ask your human resources contact before you go to the interview, Miss Vobejda advises.

In this regard, candidates seem to be doing their homework: 34 percent of the 2,000 job seekers polled said they spent more time picking out their outfit the night before their interview than anything else.

Once you get the job, one-third of recruiters believe dressing like the boss is a good way to advance in the company, and 73 percent think employees would be more respected by their bosses if they dressed in a similar fashion.

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