Why You Should Dress Up for a Phone Interview

You may be wondering how clothing affects your ability to communicate. It all starts with that first impression. First impressions mean a lot.

Think about how often we judge people almost immediately based on their appearance. Clothing is a tool which can help you take control of how people see you and manipulate their viewpoint. Do you want to appear as a strong, knowledgeable, and confident individual? Your clothing can help with that!

In Jennifer J. Baumgartner’s book, You are what You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal about You, she explains that, “Our closets are windows into our internal selves. Every one of us attempts to say or hide something in the way we wear our clothes.” Use your clothing to positively affect how you communicate by taking the opportunity to show people who you are and what kind of person you want to be. 

Below are some tips to help you dress in a way that communicates authority and demands respect.

Dress for the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have: You’ve probably heard this before, but there’s a reason why it keeps coming up! Work hard, be respectful of others, and dress as if you’re the boss. There’s something empowering about dressing "up." It changes your demeanor and studies have shown that it influences the way we think. I often tell clients to dress up for phone interviews, because it makes a difference in how you think and how you speak.

We’re often able to think more clearly and efficiently when dressed in workwear because it differentiates us from a more laid back and social environment in which one would wear casual clothing.

You will be judged on your appearance, so take advantage of it. Whether or not it’s right, it’s human nature to judge others based on their clothing and appearance. Since this is a known fact (people with straight teeth are considered more successful), take advantage of what you can and dress to impress. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend a lot of money on designer clothing, however you should be dressing in clothing that is flattering and appropriate. If you’re going to a meeting, opt for a pair of fitted slacks instead of jeans. It’s a simple switch that will immediately make you appear more professional and more authoritative. Similarly, by switching out a sweater for a blazer, you will make your look more polished and command more respect.

Think About What Your Grandparents Would Say: This sounds silly at first, but when getting dressed for work-related events or meetings, think about how your grandparents would react to the outfit. Everything is a bit more casual (hello startup life), but that doesn't mean you should be casual in attitude when it comes to career. If grandma says something's not appropriate, chances are, it's not. You can still dress like yourself and bring individuality to any outfit, but listen to that inner voice. You don't have to dress for the most conservative person in the room, but aim somewhere in the middle. 

My grandmother has always lived by the motto that you can never be overdressed, and it’s almost always been right! Keep in mind that you want to remain appropriate, however a suit will almost always be considered appropriate workwear. If you’re in a more casual environment, think of going with bold prints that feel more casual but also polished. Even if others are dressing casual, if you dress to impress, you will be able to communicate more effectively and command more respect than those in jeans and a t-shirt. Plus studies have shown the dressing to impress enhances people’s ability to engage in abstract thinking.


When you’re wondering how clothing affects your ability to communicate, think about how you want people to see you, how you want to portray yourself to the world, and how efficient you want to be. If you want to be successful, dressing in a polished and professional manner will help you achieve your goal and communicate this objective to others.


A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of writestylesonline.com. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume, style, and boost your confidence.