Just last week, one of my candidates for a project management role, scored an interview with a company she had identified as the perfect place for her.

The first interview was an HR phone screen, and I was pleased to learn it went quite well. The next step was another call, this time with the hiring manager, and that also went well and was very encouraging. The final step was an in-person meeting with the hiring manager and another project manager.

I had my usual prep call with the candidate and helped her research the company and the industry, so she could be as prepared as possible for whatever might come up. When I talked to the candidate right after the interview, she was very enthusiastic about her chances.

An hour later, I received an email from the company saying this,

“I have not yet received feedback from the hiring manager, but I wanted you to know the candidate was inappropriately dressed. We are questioning the judgement of anyone that would go to a professional job interview wearing jeans and sneakers. If we were to move forward with this candidate, we would ask you to have a conversation with her about proper work attire, but I am going to discourage management from hiring this candidate.”

Ouch! Needless to say, the candidate did not get the job despite very good credentials, education and experience. How could this highly educated, and exceptionally capable candidate not realize the way you are dressed speaks volumes about your level of interest in a particular role, as well as your overall level of professionalism.

The only explanation I can think of is with so much remote work taking hold in the workplace, lines are beginning to get crossed. So let’s be clear, a remote/hybrid role still requires the same level of dressing for success for the job interview as it did before Covid. And this goes for working at the company as well. Working remotely is not an excuse to dress so casually that your attire could have a negative impact on how you are perceived.

Looking sharp has been an important part of being successful with any company as far back as I can remember. While the world of work now contains a significant remote/hybrid element, there never was and there never will be an excuse to wear jeans and sneakers on job interviews. My advice? Always dress for success.