Do you have an accountant interview? Congratulations! Let’s look at how you can look and feel great while you wow them with your qualifications. Let’s decode business formal vs. business casual.
It won’t surprise you that what most people wear to an interview is a bit more formal than what they wear to work once they have been in their new role for a while. This is true for finance jobs, including accounting — unless you have a client-facing role, in which case you may need to go business formal just as a matter of course.
You might have either an in-person or virtual interview. Even though the venues are different, treat these the same concerning how you dress — yes, even for dress pants, skirts, and shoes. By dressing like you would for an in-person interview, you will feel more confident and polished. On the off chance that your camera slips during the virtual interview, you won’t be seen wearing sweatpants with your professional women’s blouse and blazer. Have a quiet and neutral background for your virtual interview. Be sure that family members respect that you are in an interview. If you have pets, secure them in a different part of your home to minimize distractions.
Learn as much as you can about the firm before the interview. In addition to reading the company’s website and checking out LinkedIn for anyone who will be interviewing you, if the office is local, consider driving by (inconspicuously) around the time that employees will be arriving or leaving for the day. This will give you an idea of how conservative the dress code is, even if you don’t know the roles of the individuals walking in or out. This strategy works better for a large office. If you opt for this, make it a quick errand, drive politely, and don’t gawk.
Unless the recruiter has told you that the interview will be business casual, assume it will be business formal. For the guys, this means a dark-colored suit with a white dress shirt and tie with matching dark leather shoes and a men’s belt. For the gals, this is either a dark pantsuit or a dark women’s skirt with a simple blazer. Skirts should be just below the knee. Heels should be dark-colored and medium-height for conservative offices. A shell top in either white or a solid color, like a conservative blue, is a good choice.
If you have been told that the interview itself (not the office, but the interview) will be business casual, guys can lose the men’s ties, and women can lose the pearls and perhaps wear snappy flats instead of heels. Otherwise, keep your outfit about the same. There is nothing wrong with being dressed more formally than the people who are interviewing you. The opposite, however, is likely to be viewed as unprofessional.
Congratulations! For your first day on the job (either in person or virtual), stick with an outfit about as formal as the one you wore to your interview. You’ll want to be observant while you are still new to your role — that includes familiarizing yourself with how people dress and are groomed for work. The adage of dressing for the job you want instead of the job you have is a good one. When in doubt, dress as formally as the employees one level higher than you on the corporate organizational chart. Give this observational period at least a few weeks so you can get a feel for what types of outfit combinations different employees in different roles wear at your new firm throughout the work week.
This is especially true for casual Fridays or offices with casual dress codes. Don’t assume that casual means jeans or tennis shoes or T-shirts until you see your boss wearing them. Be especially careful with tops and footwear. Jeans with a men’s polo shirt, a leather belt, and loafers are a decidedly different level of casual than jeans with a T-shirt and tennis shoes.
Although there are tech firms where people may wear jeans with holes in them, the inherent “working with other people’s money for a living” aspect of accounting firms keeps them on the conservative end of the continuum for casual office wear, even if clients are never in the office. If you have a virtual job, continue to dress conservatively while you are learning the virtual dress code. Stick to solid-colored shirts with collars until you know that your boss will wear a T-shirt for their video calls on Fridays. Once you have been there a while, you might opt for black yoga pants or sweatpants, but don’t go there right away — and never wear shorts in case you need to stand up while on camera.
With a bit of planning, you will be dressed for success for your accounting interview. Now, go wow them and get that job!