I’m thinking of applying for a job at some of the bigger supermarkets and music stores to supplement my meagre student income, and gladly welcome input from people with more experience than I on what to wear.
Jeans, t-shirt and sneakers? Suit? Something in between? It’s a part-time job which will probably involve customer interaction, so I’d need to be presentable, but how formal is too formal when applying for a job like this?
I vote something in between. I don’t know how formal is too formal, but I think you want to look like you care enough about your first impression to dress up, at least one step above the way you think you’d have to dress if you got the job. A suit just strikes me as overkill, trying way too hard. You’d be memorable, but not neccessarily in a good way-- especially if you are qualified for a better job, and just looking for a temporary income boost.
Nice pants and a button-down shirt would strike me as appropriate, especially if worn with shoes dressier than sneakers.
I’d throw on a tie as well. It says that you recognize this as being a situation where you want to look nice, but you know to avoid over-presenting yourself. Outside of a truck-pull or a rodeo, I can’t think of too many places where showing up with a tie would be a misstep.
Since the job possibly involves customer interaction, you do need to dress up a lot more than if you were hidden away, say stacking shelves in a warehouse. Dress at least as well as the best dressed person you see serving customers in the store you are applying at (and yes, that might be the manager).
Coat and tie not required, but wouldn’t hurt either. Just dress neat … dress shirt, slacks, nice shoes (could be casual, but not sneakers). I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and what does not work is a look that shows sloppiness or someone who’s uncaring or unprepared.
Do not wear sneakers. Even the nicest sneakers give off a vibe that’s too casual for a job interview. I’d always go with a tie, but it sounds like in this instance a suit may be too much.
I’ve hired tons of people for full-time, part-time, and occasional seasonal positions in retail.
Guys with suits or ties I usually felt were over-qualified or probably wanted more salary that what the job payed. Or they were the type that were trying to make the impression that they wanted to get in the door at an entry level point but thought they’d take a fast track into management.
Guys with jeans, sneakers, shorts, tennis shoes, t-shirts, or untucked shirts I usually passed on. They didn’t seem professional enough to be a competent employee.
I’d suggest pants (non-jeans or cargo) like a nice khaki pant, brown or black shoes, matching belt, and a shirt with a collar (button down or short sleve polo) tucked in.
The rule of thumb for interviews is “one step up”. Be familiar with what their employees wear on a daily basis and dress one step up for the interview. If they wear jeans and tees, you wear khakis and a polo; if they wear khakis and polos, you wear dress slacks and a button down shirt; if they wear dress slacks and a button down shirt, you wear a tie; etc.