Dressing For Job Interview For Part Time Low Level Jobs

I applied for season work at Target, K-Mart, MicroCenter and a few others two weeks ago.

It’s been two weeks and I failed to get hired. Now I have a lot of education and need a full time job, but I’ll take what I can get, to get by

The temp agencies I’ve worked for have said, “If you’re overqualified, you’ll go to the end of the list.”

But I figured if I am applying for these, for lack of a better word, “Low level” jobs and said “I just want it as an extra job for the holidays” I’d have a better chance. After all everyone needs extra spending money for the holidays.

I was talking to someone and they suggested that perhaps I was overdressed. I have a typical interview suit which is black and standard. I always wear a suit to an interview regardless, I figure better to be overdressed than not enough.

So the question is, if you’re going for a part time job, like at Target or even Burger King, do you need a suit for your interview? If not what would you wear to an interview a “low level” type job.

I realize there are no right or wrong answers, but I was just wondering.

I have worn khaki pants (commonly required as part of the uniform) and a button shirt. Not a polo shirt, but not a really dressy shirt either. Enough to show you care, not enough to look like you don’t understand the requirments of the job.

I wouldn’t wear a suit–dressing up more than the store management does is probably not going to persuade them that you will do the job they need you to do without complaint. ( I have worn skirt suits to other types of interviews, including at least one where I was way overdressed, but probably didn’t get the job due to someone else having more experience).

I haven’t been hired every time I’ve had an interview for such a position, but I have been hired a few times.

My son walked into a Steak 'n Shake wearing a suit and tie and filled out an application.

He so impressed the manager that the manager called us and thanked us for teaching our son how to dress for interviews, and he remembered him a year later when my son reapplied (and gave him the job. The first time he had no openings.)

I wore a very nice dress when I applied for my second job. You have to remember, for managers of even low-level jobs, a lot of times, this is their career. Showing up dressed very nicely shows them that you take the position seriously, even if it’s Retail Hell.

isn’t there an old adage to dress at the interview like you would at the job?
If your job will include climbing on ladders and lifting heavy boxes, a suit may not be a good idea.
(disclaimer: I haven’t had to go job hunting for 20 years(thank god!),so tell me if I’m way off base.)

I got two seasonal jobs similar to what you are looking for a couple of holiday seasons ago. I also deliberated over what to wear.

I ended up not wearing the power suit. It’s just overkill and likely to be taken as pompous in a more casual environment. Went with a nice shirt, a nice tie, khaki pants, and nice shoes. If you’ll pardon the expression, basic Sunday wear.

Well, I think for low-level jobs, that require little skill, it helps to stand out from the crowd. Managers may see people applying in sweat pants and flip-flops. If you dress like you’re serious, the manager may take your application more seriously.

I don’t normally wear heels and stockings to work. But I do for interviews.

Male: Dress trousers, dress shirt, tie, dress shoes

Female: dress trousers, dress shirt, opt: pin or scarf to dress up the shirt), dress shoes

For retail jobs, I always dressed in something that would be closer to business casual, not a suit. Dressier than I what I would wear while working if I was actually hired, but not my best suit dressy. Dress pants and nice shirt, or a skirt and nice shirt.

While some people will be impressed with the suit, many will see a guy who’s overqualified and will bolt the second he finds a better job. Even if that’s true, it’s not really what you want potential employers to see.

I used to run a pizza place, and our “uniform” consisted of the company t-shirt. So when I was interviewing someone, I would be wearing said t-shirt and a pair of jeans; I usually didn’t pay attention to what the interviewee was wearing. My store was located across the street from the local university, and virtually all applicants were students, so I never expected them to be dressed any better than they would be for school.

There were a few times, though, when I thought the person was overdressed, but I just chalked it up as them trying to impress me, and didn’t think any more about it. I was mostly concerned with trying to get a feel for the person’s personality.

I can’t speak for the ladies, but for a guy, this seems appropriate for McJob type interviews. It shows you care enough to make the effort to look nice, but doesn’t go overboard.

Sure, wear nice slacks, dress shirt, dress shoes. Tie not that necessary anymore. But don’t forget to wear a sport coat or other casual suit coat. Don’t go in wearing a windbreaker or no coat at all.

I think a suit is overkill for Target or McDonalds, it’s just so much more formal than what the managers wear that you’ll come off smug and potentially not willing to cooperate with the rest of their polo-shirt-wearing staff. I could see it working at a place that is a less bargain-basement, like Macy’s where you do see suits on the associates in some departments.

Yes’m. I haven’t applied for a temporary retail job in a while, but last time I did, I showed up in a nice shirt, nice pants, and nice shoes. I was hired on the spot. Of course part of it was because I was personable, which counts for a job at a boutique shop, but the point is you don’t have to show up in the latest from Brook’s Brothers to land a small retail job. When interviewing for my current position, which is part of my Official Career at Large Conglomerate X, I wore a suit.


Wear a suit, tie, jacket, only if it’s going to be a suit, tie, jacket kind of job. Don’t get me wrong, look very nice, but jackets and ties can be overkill for “part time low level jobs”. Heck, I felt overdressed the last time I interviewed in a suit and it was for a Fortune 500 company (granted it was in their call center).

I’ve hired quite a few people for “low level” jobs, and have yet to see anyone show up in a jacket or tie. If they did, I would wonder if they thought they were worth more than the job paid, or just didn’t understand the job level.

I had a friend (same call center) who used to randomly wear a suit to work. When asked he said “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. I asked if the goal included staff and management alike thinking he was a weirdo, and he said that nobody thought that. :rolleyes:

In my experience, khakis, a long sleeve button down shirt, nice shoes and a belt will get you the widest range of jobs that aren’t salaried, and sometimes ones that are (like my current one).

I’ve been in charge of doing interviews the last few rounds at my workplace (retail security). We had one guy show up in jeans and a t-shirt. I told him before we even sat down for the interview, “Let’s save us both the time here. No thanks”.
We ended up hiring the nervous looking guy wearing a full suit. He gave the impression of wanting this specific job, instead of wanting just any job.

I was doing some interviewing for a new graphic designer. One guy turned up in a full suit, it wasn’t why he didn’t get the job but was the perfect illustration of why he wasn’t right fro the job. (my impression was that he was pompous and difficult to get along with and didn’t understand local culture*)

For a rank and file retail job I would just wear trousers shirt and tie if it was a scheduled interview, if it was just the walk in and apply type - khakis / smart jeans and a polo shirt

  • NOBODY wheres a suit here (even to job interviews), except maybe lawyers in court and expat bankers, and this was a graphic design job - at work he would have been in jeans and t-shirt at work

I just have to jump in and say, this makes me just a little bit crazy (rejecting overdressed applicants) because in many ways it’s a form of reverse snobbery (kewl kids vs nerds).

Many people were brought up and taught manners in a more formal way. They learn to say yes ma’am and no ma’am, place a napkin in their laps when eating, and wear a suit to an interview. It shows a certain lack or cultural sensitivity to reject these people because of their formality. They are not being wildly inappropriate in dress and presentation. If anything, their choices should be taken as neutral. The question is - can they do the job?

I want to add, if you haven’t already make up a resume specifically for this kind of job. I don’t want to say “dumb it down” because that’s not what I mean but I have a really bad headache and can’t think of a better term. You don’t want to give the impression that you are “looking for anything”. No one wants to hire and train someone that is going to leave if they get a better offer.
Dress in smart casual, like everyone has said, dress pants (or khakis) and a nice sweater, blouse or button down shirt, nothing too fancy.

Thanks for the advice, I’ve actually done this.

One of the ways I’ve switched this is to use my friend who has a business as my “full time” job and say that I only want “extra hours” for Christmas and apply specifically for those ads that say “seasonal only.” This way they know I won’t be out the door.

Obviously wearing a suit isn’t helping me any, so I will try some suggestions others have noted.


What I heard way back when is that you dress up one level from what you’ll be wearing at work.

When I was hiring when I had a graphics job, I took the guy who wore a suit because he was the one who looked like he was serious (as opposed to the people coming in jeans and t-shirts and the guy who looked like he had just rolled out of bed).