Do you dress up for phone interviews?

by Rich DeMatteo on February 9, 2010 · 54 comments

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Last week, I went out for some drinks with a few of my cousins and we started talking about  the job search.   Somehow, the topic of dressing for success, while working from home was brought up in the conversation.  My older cousin, Steven, thinks that people should always dress like they are in the office when working from home, and argues that they will perform better because of it.   I disagreed.  While working from home, I’ve been productive and successful while wearing gym clothes.  A comfortable Corn On The Job, is a happy and successful Corn On The Job.

Work-Home-Stress-Life

Naturally, the conversation got me thinking about how people dress for phone screens.

I’m sure there are plenty of studies that go against my opinion, but I wear whatever I want, or I should say, whatever I’m wearing that day for phone screens.  If a suit and tie makes me more professional, but takes away from my personality and how I really am, do I want that?  No.  I want a company to feel my personality through the phone, and let my experience and ability to talk about that experience be the resulting factor.  Will wearing long socks and uncomfortable dress shoes get me the job?  I don’t think so.

What are people saying on Twitter?

I wanted to gain the opinion of some friends on Twitter, so I popped this question:

Do you dress up for phone interviews? Does it affect your performance if you don’t? Let me hear it.

Snazzy Phone Screen Dressers

  • @WhatsWithDiane – I work better from home when I’m dressed and made up. PJ’s are cool but don’t feel right after 7 a.m.
  • @JennyGuerrero – I find that the closer to a face to face interview it is (including attire & surroundings) the better I perform.
  • @GraceKBoyle – I always like to shower, get ready and dress nicely for phone interviews. Mentally, it makes me prepared and equipped.
  • @RobinSchooling – If I didn’t I would ‘feel’ less prepared. Part of the process for me is being in the right mind-set/serious. PJs don’t cut it
  • @jamesledbetter – It’s always better to dress for success even if u r the only one who sees u

Comfortable Phone Screen Dressers

  • @ImSoSarah – I work best in yoga pants and a tank top. On extra fancy days – Jeans.
  • @Jon_Hyland – Sweats and a t-shirt is my preferred work-from-home attire. Clothes don’t really affect my personality
  • @marenhogan – No and no.
  • @TrinaWardell – I’m w/ @marenhogan – no and no – provided I am prepared (research, etc) my perf is gr8 even in PJ’s! :)

What do you think?.

Do you make an effort to dress up and look your best for phone interviews?
Does it not matter what you wear?
Do you listen to house music and fist pump while on phone screens?
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41 comments
SkyMall
SkyMall

I don't work in what I slept in if for no other reason than to put on a clean tee and yoga pants/shorts plus what goes underneath them. But yeah, I'm just as productive dressed casually as I would be if I dressed to sit in my dining room/office to work all day. Same for when I work out of Starbucks, etc. except for the pjs and I do put on makeup. I'm guessing my interviewees do the same. They work in casual clothes or scrubs so casual and comfy is a way of life for them.

sima
sima

Well... seeing as I'm already sneaking outside at 3:00 PM at my current job in order to do the phone interview, it might raise suspicions if I also did it in a suit and nicer shoes. Interviews are all about presentation. In a phone interview, your physical presentation is irrelevant. Save the suit for the face-to-face.

Diane Prince Johnston
Diane Prince Johnston

Hour 3, I cheated and am in sweats and not pajamas. No make up, hair pulled back and my Starbucks is getting cold. It is 10 after 10 and I really need a shower before the next conference call. I just feel gross. Risking that Jonathan Hyland may think less of me, I am pulling myself together beginning with water, a razor and mascara. Good thing it's Friday, casual day, and I can wear jeans!

Diane Prince Johnston
Diane Prince Johnston

Daughter w/stomach flu in bed today. I will work in my pajamas and report back.

Jonathan Hyland
Jonathan Hyland

Meh. All this psychological "puts you in the right mindset" is a load of bunk. Sorry. The reality is that you've only tricked yourself... like a good little Pavlovian dog, you've been conditioned to relate your external appearance to certain conditions (in this case, to do work, I must be dressed nicely). I could consult clients stark naked at home, and the advice I give them won't be any less professional or good. No, I do not consult my clients stark naked. Break the mold, folks. Try working in sweats once in a while. It is good. And thanks for the shout-out in the post, Rich!

Matt Cheuvront
Matt Cheuvront

I think I'm with the majority here - whether I'm interviewing or (now) working from home, I am much more productive if I get dressed and ready for the day. It's completely a psychological thing, that whole "look good you feel good" idea. The good news, to those people I Skype with during the day, I may look well dressed from the shoulders up, but you have no idea what's going on down below...they call it Life Without Pants for a reason.

Sam Diener
Sam Diener

Matt. Great question. I think that dressing "as if" is the way to go. Dress for the job you want at all times. Not only do I dress up, but I walk around as I talk into the phone. It increases my confidence. Sam

Kenji Crosland
Kenji Crosland

Ever since I quit my job I've really missed wearing a suit. I enjoy being snazzy, but then there's a dry cleaning bill and no fixed income. I most definitely enjoy working dressed up even when no one's around.

Ryan Stephens
Ryan Stephens

I think it boils down to what makes you most comfortable and enables your personality to shine through. I've put on slacks and a collared shirt before, and I've interviewed in a towel before. Honestly, I did feel more professional dressed up, but I was also a little more stiff I think. Being in workout shorts and a T shirt enables me to relax and be myself so that's the direction I lean. I want someone to hire me for who I am or there's a good chance I don't wouldn't be a good fit there anyway.

Shennee
Shennee

Rich- My preference is to Dress for the Interview. I just feel more professional and prepared. Everyone is different, but this is my 2 cents. Shennee

Theresa
Theresa

To each his/her own. I think if what you're wearing helps you rock the interview, then break out your finest, go forth and interview. I'm a casual person, so what I'm wearing has nothing to do with how my brain works. Being prepared for the interview, whether phone or in person, gives me my confidence. That said, I'd love to find a job that would let me work in sweats, but that's not going to happen. It would be hard to take a marketing director seriously when she looked like she just stepped out of her freshman English Lit class. :) I've really enjoyed seeing the answers to this question. I never would have guessed that so many people use clothes as a mean to focus themselves or create a mindset. Very interesting!

Kate
Kate

The first phone interview I had, I showered and dressed as though I would be seeing the person face-to-face - professionally. I had no idea what to expect from the phone interview and as it took place 2 years ago, I was a little less confident in my abilities and qualifications so I felt it important to "add confidence" through clothes. I do believe in the "power" or energy of clothes and the ability an outfit has to help you feel sexy, professional, comfortable, etc. Otherwise, why would we spend so much time debating outfits for different occasions? Clothes do have the ability to reflect the image you wish to portray and for that reason I completely understand the desire of other's to dress professionally for an interview, regardless of the fact that no one else will see you and your clothes. Today, I would shower and prepare for my day, and mentally prepare for the interview however I do not think I would get as dressed-up in professional attire as I did the first time around. Yoga pants and a t-shirt will likely do me just fine because I know that I am more than qualified for the interview and an assest to the indivdiual on the other end of the phone. I have the confidence now, all on my own, that I needed from my clothes 2 years ago. Now, Skype... I will likely wear my yoga pants (comfortable) with a nice blouse and make sure my hair and make-up are done (professional). ;)

Tony Ruiz
Tony Ruiz

I'm the type of guy that naturally likes to wake up go to the gym and hop in the shower. I like taking a shower to start my day off. So naturally I think I would shower up for a phone interview but I don't think I would care about what I'm wearing as long as I feel fresh and so clean clean ;)

Monica O'Brien
Monica O'Brien

I think it's just about feeling good/confident - and if dressing up helps, then you should. If you are most confident when you're comfortable, then wear yoga pants. I don't feel quite as confident in a professional setting until I've taken a shower, put in my contacts, done some hair and makeup... I might not dress up in formal business attire for a phone interview, but I'll at least get ready for the day. If it's a work day, I don't wear workout clothes - those are for the weekends or bumming around my house at night.

Leah
Leah

Even though I feel silly, I do dress up when I make phone calls to potential employers. Something about a good pair of heels makes me feel like I can take charge. One of my professors talked about a radio host who dressed up every day. The week he decided not to dress up, his ratings went down. (I wrote about it on my blog: http://ow.ly/15ANb.) I also agree with Brian. If I'm in dress slacks, I'm in business mode and am a lot less likely to sit down in front of the TV.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Brian - Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I can not believe you worked a "flight" reference into this post. I'm amazed, and for that I must bow down to you. Genius. I challenge you to find a way to work them into another comment in the future. With all of that said, I can respect your opinion on this and how someone may slip out of "professional mode". If I'm wearing a suit and tie, I might find it harder to get comfortable on the couch with my laptop, but I won't be less professional with shorts and a t-shirt on. That is just me, and others may need to stay dressy throughout the day to keep their professional mode. Side note - I see you are a hockey fan. Guessing a Blues fan. Where has Oshie been this year...? I was expecting big things...

Brian Moseley
Brian Moseley

I can't speak for the ladies, but I think for men wearing a suit or at least a dress shirt and slacks really helps get you into that professional mindset. Guys are very good at separating work from their personal lives while at work, but that changes when at home. If you are having a phone interview, you probably aren't at your office. You're at home and if you're wearing jeans and a tshirt you might get start slipping out of 'professional mode'. Sometimes we need a stiff collar and a tight belt to remind us that it's "business time". ...but not like 'Flight of the Conchords' business time.

Scott Hale
Scott Hale

I pretty much work exclusively from home and I can safely admit that I rarely dress up for the work day. The same goes for phone interviews (Skype excluded...you never know when the other side will want to go video). When I'm relaxed, I can fly through work and get things done efficiently. While it doesn't bother me to dress down while working or interviewing from home, I can easily see the flip side. Clothes often come with confidence and some days or some phone calls need that extra boost.

Jessica Miller-Merrell
Jessica Miller-Merrell

Rich, Nope, me personally I don't dress up. I don't buy that "look professional. feel professional" crap. Just be yourself. Of course, I face to face interview is all together different. You want to make a good impression and that includes looking for your best. As far as the phone interview goes, go with whatever you feel comfortable with. Jessica @blogging4jobs

Grace Boyle
Grace Boyle

I still do good work in my gym clothes. It's actually more comfortable to be sitting in my yoga pants and a t-shirt versus jeans, a suit, etc. However, for some reason, if I don't "dress for the day" or take a shower for a phone interview I don't feel as with it. I don't know why. When I wear grungy clothes, sometimes I feel sort of grungy. I suppose it's a you are what you eat sort of phenomenon. I do know however, that my intelligence level and how I prepare for the phone interview will not be swayed by what I wear, it's just how I FEEL. And feeling good is nice :) Good idea and crowd sourcing!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Sima - great perspective here, and it's something not everyone thinks about. To answer this question you must think about each persons situation and if they are currently working or are looking for work.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

HAHA, i love this step by step. First things first, get some warm Starbucks. Shower before that next call and toss on some Jeans. Game over! Done!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Oh, and I hope your daughter is feeling better!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Welcome, JH! We all know you consult your clients totally naked. We won't tell anyone.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Matt - thanks for your comment and thoughts here. Yeah, it seems to be about 60-40 for people wanting to dress their best when home. And the next time we Skype, you better not stand up.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Sam, I think you meant to say Rich, not Matt, or maybe not? So, you walk around in a suit and tie on phone screens? Just seems like a little much to me, but whatever works. If that helps you, then I can not argue. Thanks for your comment

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Kenji - More power to you. If you enjoy it, and it helps you, then go for it every time. Thanks for leaving your thoughts on this.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Ryan - it is all personal preference, I agree. I'm not sure I'll be down to a towel like you, but I definitely like the way I feel in work out shorts and a t-shirt. Thanks for leaving your thoughts and comments.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Shennee - thanks for your 2 cents, we'll take it. If it makes you comfortable and you feel like you perform better, than go for it!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Theresa - Glad to have your comments on this, and I agree, won't find too many marketing directors in sweats! Nice to dream though, isn't it? I feel that I'm right there with you in being a casual person. My clothes do not change me...although I'm right there with many people on showering and preparation! Hope you stop by again soon!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Kate - Thanks for leaving your thoughts on this. Funny how we change the way we do things after we experience them. I also believe in the power of clothes, but I guess I believe in the power of my experience a bit more. Always prepare and always shower. That seems to be one of the major themes so far... people need their showers before phone screens, and I agree. I like that you feel confident and know you are qualified. That will scream through the phonee. Thanks for the comment!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Tony, how is it going? A shower is necessary sure, I mean, that is just good hygiene right and it wakes us up! As long as feeling awake, and fresh, then it probably doesn't matter what you are wearing. I like your style!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hi Monica, thanks for leaving your thoughts. I agree 100% with your first section. It is all about feeling good/confident. Some people may want the extra push. It's a matter of personal preference here. Clothes won't make me feel better about myself, so I choose to wear whatever I want.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hi Leah - Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts! I tried clicking on that post, but it didn't work. Can you try to send again, I'd love to read that! I still don't buy into the radio hosts ratings story, but I'm definitely interested in checking it out. If the slacks keep you away from the TV, then wear them! Slacks or not, I'll take a 10 minute tv break if I feel like it. At work there are so many interruptions that cause 10-15 minute obligatory breaks. Why not take one or two at home as well?

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Scott - Thank you thank you thank you for bringing up Skype. On Skype I'll make an attempt to get a bit more dressed up depending on what the occasion is. Business skype - I'll dress up a tad. Personal skype - dress down. I usually wear gym clothes all day when working from home. This helps to quickly get my ass to the gym once work is over for the day.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Jessica - Thanks for the comment, and for letting me know the original post had an error! I'm with you. I understand others who want to dress up to be professional, but I don't need to dress professional to act it or feel it. If others feel it gives them an edge, then that is wonderful. Definitely, the face to face will be different, and some companies do push people to dress comfortably. Of course it can depend on the position, but I like when companies are little looser. People can show the "real them".

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Grace - Thanks for answering the question on Twitter and also here! So you don't feel as with it, but your intelligence level won't be swayed. Do you feel slower maybe? Are you less you? If you feel great, and that is comfortable, then it works for you and I can understand that. My opinion is that each person will be different in how they need to feel in order to be their best.

Leah
Leah

Here's the link again: http://ow.ly/15ANb I'm not sure of the radio host's name, but I know it's a true story!

Grace Boyle
Grace Boyle

Yeah, it's a good question and I like hearing other people's responses. Well I'm sort of laid back and mellow when I'm in my gym clothes, usually because I just came from the gym or I'm looking to relax and lounge. In addition, I can't imagine not getting up, showering, eating a good meal and doing anything else that feels good before an interview (phone or in person).

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Leah, not sure why it didn't work last time for me. Worked that time. Interesting read. I'm sure it made a believer out of that radio host. Completely believe you that it is real, but I won't buy into it, until something like that happens to me. Thanks for sending the link again!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Eating a good meal and showering I believe is essential to any day. Glad you bring that up, Grace! So it seems you dress somewhere between casual and business casual when working from home, or on a phone screen?

Grace Boyle
Grace Boyle

Also, dressing nicely just means that I am wearing something more than sweats, but MUCH less than a suit on a phone interview. Just like to feel good, comfortable and do things that also make me feel good.