I’ve posted advice on interview attire more than once, but it’s been directed at your first interview. Now let’s talk a bit about when you did well (based partly on how you were dressed, of course) enough in your first interview to be invited back for a second one.
Should you dress differently than you did for your first interview? The answer is…maybe.
One advantage you have is that you were able to see how the interviewers were dressed in your first interview. This will give you some clues about the dress code at that particular company and you can make sure you dress similarly for your second interview.
However, this isn’t a foolproof system. For example, if you feel the interviewers were underdressed, based on my guidelines for interview attire, don’t copy them. You should still dress up for your second interview. Remember: all the rules about how to dress for your first interview still apply.
Also, the people in your first interview may have been at a higher level than the position for which you’re applying. If you’re applying for a blue-collar job and the interviewers were wearing suits, that doesn’t mean you should wear a suit to your second interview.
My point here is you should tailor your attire to match the interviewers who were at a job level at least somewhat similar to the one for which you’re applying. When in doubt, it’s always better to over-dress than underdress for an interview. As a Hiring Manager, I’ve never penalized an applicant for overdressing, but I most certainly have for underdressing (which to me is a sign of disrespect for the job).
Another question I frequently get is if it’s okay to wear the same clothes for the second interview as you did for the first interview. Ideally, I’ll say that wearing different clothes is best. However, assuming what you wore was appropriate for the position and for what you saw the interviewers wearing, there’s nothing wrong with wearing the same outfit.
After all, if you dressed properly for the first interview, with the goal being that the focus is on your performance and not how you were dressed, your attire likely wasn’t noticed much at all. There were probably several other candidates interviewed and the chance that anyone remembers exactly what you wore is small. And you can always make just a small change, such as a different color shirt, blouse, or tie.
Some companies will even specify a dress code for a second interview and this is something you should ask the person who schedules your interview.
If all this sounds confusing, just remember my basic advice on how to dress for a first interview and you’ll be fine. Here’s a short recap (see other posts for more details):
Casual Jobs (basic office, blue-collar trades, retail, hospitality)
For men, dress pants or khakis, button-down long sleeve shirt, hard shoes. NO JEANS!
For women, tailored separates or casual pantsuits, low heeled closed-toe shoes. NO JEANS!
Blazers are a good finishing touch for both men and women.
Management and Professional Jobs
For men, a suit is always safe. It should be a conservative color (black, brown, grey) and a conservative cut.
For women, a formal pantsuit is best (avoid dresses). Low heel shoes and no open toes.