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What to Wear to a Blue-Collar Interview

One of the things the pandemic has brought us is a shortage of workers in some industries. Many of these jobs that are now in high demand are in the categories of blue-collar jobs and what I’ll call “entry-level jobs” (restaurants, fast food, retail, ). To discuss how to dress for these types of interviews, I’ll lump them all together.

High Demand Blue-Collar Jobs

Before I review how to dress for a blue-collar interview, let’s take a quick look at the ones that are currently most in demand by employers.

  • Truck drivers (especially long haul)
  • Delivery drivers
  • Electrical installers
  • Construction (both skilled and unskilled)
  • Manufacturing
  • Skilled auto mechanics
  • Retail (store associates, grocery stores, department stores, fast food, restaurants)
  • Hospitality

Even though employers may be desperate to hire people into some of these high-demand jobs, that doesn’t mean that there’s no need to pay attention to how you’re dressed when interviewing. You always want to make a good impression and look as professional as you can.

When you get the job, It may even make a difference as to if you start out doing grunt work or something more desirable.

Many of these types of jobs have very casual dress codes for the employees. But you’re not an employee yet, you’re a job applicant.

Even if the job demand is so high that just about any applicant that shows up with a pulse will be hired, you still want to make a good impression by having a professional appearance. It’s what will make you stand out as particularly desirable.

Employers are currently so desperate for applicants to fill some of these jobs that interviews may be quick, informal, and you may not ever see a Hiring Manager. I’m sure you’ve seen the “Now Hiring” signs at many fast-food restaurants, retail stores, and grocery stores.

However, many in-demand blue-collar jobs, especially those with high skill requirements, will still require an interview. For those, you should know the proper way to dress for it.

Generally speaking, the same interview dress advice applies to blue-collar jobs as to all others: dress one step up from what normal attire is for that position. Let’s review what that may look like:

How Men Should Dress

Regardless of what people currently wear in the blue-collar job you’re looking for, remember that you want to dress one step up from that for your interview. Here’s what that looks like.

“Dockers” style pants with a collared shirt are the best choice. A golf-style shirt can also be okay but a shirt with a collar looks more professional. Dress slacks are also okay but may be overdoing it a bit. Avoid shirts that are too tight or too short.

A sports coat, though not necessary, can make the Hiring Manager sit up and take notice and shows even more respect for the interview. If you really want to make a good first impression, add a tie to the mix. However, don’t wear a suit. It’s overkill and you’ll look out of place.

Hard soled shoes are best and make sure that they are clean and polished. For outdoor types of jobs, such as in construction, work boots can be okay if they are required by the job. Even then, regular shoes are better.

How Women Should Dress

Casual pants and a nice blouse are ideal. You should avoid sleeveless tops and spaghetti straps.

I strongly recommend that you also avoid dresses. It’s difficult to determine what is an acceptable length and you’ll be constantly worrying about if your dress is riding up when you sit down. You don’t need one more thing to worry about in your interview!

Sensible, low-heeled shoes are best. Your interview may take place in a more casual environment and you don’t want to worry about tripping over something.

What Everyone Should Avoid

  • Tank tops
  • Loud colors
  • Distracting patterns
  • Ball caps
  • Shorts
  • Flip flops
  • Shirts with slogans
  • Pants with holes – even if they are by design
  • Jeans
  • Athletic shoes

The last two items – jeans and athletic shoes – may strike you as odd. After all, it’s a blue-collar job, and what could be natural than to wear jeans and sneakers?

That’s true – once you’re on the job. As I mentioned upfront, you always want to dress one step up from what the norm is. It shows you’re a professional who has respect for both the company and the Hiring Manager.

If you decide to wear crisp jeans and clean, newer athletic shoes, It’s probably okay.

That is if ‘okay’ is what you’re shooting for. If you want to make your best impression, follow these guidelines and you’ll show respect – and get respect in return.

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