What Should You Wear to a Phone Interview?
Phone interviews are the first step to getting hired, but while everybody talks about what to wear to a live interview, what are you supposed to wear when you get the call? Most people pay it no mind (unless it’s a Skype call or video chat), opting for comfort over any formal outfit. But, as the saying goes, “The outfit makes the man” (or woman).
The psychology of clothing affects everybody, both consciously and subconsciously. An article published in Psychology Today showed that we make judgments about people within three seconds of first laying eyes on them, and that the clothing they wear doesn’t just influence our opinions, but they flat-out determine what we think of someone. Something as subtle as the difference between a tailored suit and an off-the-shelf outfit gave subjects the impression that the wearer was “more confident, successful, flexible, and a higher earner.”
But that’s just how we appear to others; the real question is “How do your clothing choices affect you?”
In a recent study from Northwestern University, scientists distributed white lab coats to two groups of people—one group was told they were doctor’s coats, the other group was told they were painter’s smocks. After putting the coats on, the two groups were given identical tasks, but the group wearing the “doctor’s coat” performed better, and were more careful and attentive about their task.
The concept is known as “enclothed cognition,” and it indicates that your clothes say as much to you as they say about you.
So what does this all mean to that crucial first-impression phone interview?
Beyond the old chestnut of “Dress for the job you want,” there’s actual scientific evidence that shows you can improve your mood, attitude, and aptitude simply by choosing the right outfit.
Find something that’s appropriate to both the company and the position, yet comfortable enough that you won’t feel awkward wearing it at home when the call comes in. You don’t want to be decked out in a three-piece suit at your home office, but you also don’t want to be kicking back in just a bathrobe and slippers. If you’ve gotten to the phone interview, you should have an idea of what the dress code is for the job, so you should wear whatever is appropriate for the workplace, or go one level higher. Dressing as you would for the job puts you in the mindset of an employee—much like how you speak as if you already had the job, you should dress as if you’re already at work in order to put your mind in the right place. Dressing one level higher will put you in an elevated state of mind, where you’ll both think and speak like a manager or supervisor. Think about who you’ll be speaking with, and their position in the company, and use that as your jumping off point.
By wearing the right outfit on the phone, you’ll improve your chances of finding yourself wearing the right outfit on the job.