Regardless of what kind of job you're interviewing for -- even if it's a seasonal position with the local retail store or a role as a bartender in a casual work environment -- it's never a reason to wear a T-shirt to your interview. Always dress professionally for interviews based on the adage, "Don't dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want." Dressing up for an interview will always cast a favorable light on you and your capabilities.
Casual Work Environment
Many employers have a casual dress code, but that doesn't mean you can show up for an interview wearing a T-shirt. Think of the employer's casual dress code as one of the benefits of working for the organization. Because the hiring manager hasn't selected you for a job, you aren't yet entitled to the employee benefits. And if you wear a T-shirt to the interview, you may never be an employee entitled to such benefits.
Leaving a Casual Workplace
If you're currently employed and your employer has a casual dress code that permits employees to wear T-shirts, remember that your interview isn't a come-as-you-are event. Take a change of clothes with you to work on the day of the interview. When your workday ends, change into a suitable interview ensemble, which should consist of a suit with which you can wear either a skirt or slacks. Also, include a blouse to change into -- don't just slip on your suit jacket over the T-shirt, no matter how tailored you think your T-shirt might be.
The proper attire for an interview is a suit, or at a minimum, coordinated separates, such as a cardigan, matching shell and skirt or slacks. Navy blue, brown, charcoal gray and black are safe colors to wear to an interview. If you need some color to make the ensemble pop, wear a scarf or a necklace that adds a stylish touch to your outfit. But don't overdo it with busy prints or large pieces of jewelry. Wear shoes that are stylish, yet simple -- no ankle straps, platforms or stilettos. Refrain from wearing fragrances that could be overbearing or scents that might trigger allergies for the interviewer. The key to interviewing is maintaining a professional, understated look.
If you're lucky enough to get an on-the-spot interview when you just happen to be wearing a T-shirt, apologize to the interviewer and explain that you realize that you aren't dressed properly for an interview. But go along with the impromptu meeting so you don't lose the opportunity to share your qualifications with the hiring manager. After the unplanned interview is over, ask if you can meet again for a formal interview where you can make a more favorable impression.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.