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What to Wear to a Nonprofit Job Interview

June 5, 2015
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So much goes into getting a job: Your resume needs to be perfect, your cover letter has to be engaging, and you have to impress the recruiter during the initial phone screen. The only thing left? Nailing the interview.

You might know the perfect things to say, but if you’re not wearing the perfect outfit, all that prep time might be out the window.

The dress code for nonprofit organizations, government agencies and schools often lies somewhere in between tech and corporate environments. But just because it might be more casual in the office once you start working there doesn’t mean you should go for a laid-back look in the interview, says Anne Lewis, director of sales for Betts Recruiting, headquartered in San Francisco.

“It’s risky to try to present yourself clothing-wise based on what you think they will like or how the environment is,” she says.

You don’t want your look in the interview to overshadow how great a candidate you are.

“People have been passed on for jobs because they show up in dark denim and a blouse,”  she says. “It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.”

What to Wear to a Nonprofit Job Interview

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It’s best for women and men to wear suits to nonprofit interviews to avoid showing up underdressed. Looking your best makes a difference not only in the interview but in your office once you get the job. That’s true even at Lewis’ own company, she says.

“The people who dress the nicest, I think, have earned respect in the workplace, no matter what their age is or what their background is,” she says.


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Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @briannamcscribe.

Infographic via Dora Pintek/NerdWallet.