What makes the most sense to me is what I'd call the "work formal"...in other words, something appropriately formal, but also utilitarian...something you can work (and breathe) in. . . Blue blazer, white button down shirt, solid color tie, khakis, and traditional shoes (loafers or lace ups). This is "no-frills", ready for business, work attire...not too fancy...not too casual...just right.

You wrote:

Blue blazer, white button down shirt, solid color tie, khakis, and traditional shoes (loafers or lace ups). This is "no-frills", ready for business, work attire...not too fancy...not too casual...just right.

This might be appropriate where the candidates are instructed to wear casual attire and might have worked for you, but I donít agree. The fire department is a semi-military organization.

The strongest non-verbal statement you can make in the oral board is what you wear. Iíve seen it first hand. It makes a huge difference in oral boards between those dressed for success and those showing up in what is the current what you call "work formal"... You donít get a second chance to make a first impression. Iíve seen few that were over-dressed. It is time to step up and make the investment.

As I stated above:

Understand who is on the panel. It will probably be no one your age or interest in what you think is appropriate or cool. It's us old guys who are going to pass judgment. Many are not happy with some of the candidates that have been hired in the past few years. Are you going to enter the room looking profession and comfortable or are you going to try and make your own statement on what you think the attire should be?

This from a previous posting: There's nothing quite like the look on a candidate's face when he enters the "holding pen" room where everyone waits to be called for their turn to interview, and realizes that he's the only one not wearing a suit.

Don't be that guy.

I was "that guy"!! I prepared so hard for my interview that I totally forgot to ask people what to wear. I just assumed slacks and a dress shirt would work. Wearing a suit never even crossed my mind!

Turns out, I was the only one in the waiting room not wearing a suit!! Everyone else was so GQ that I felt like I was sitting in a room full of investment bankers. I could tell everyone was looking at me like there was one less candidate to give him or her competition.

To make matters worse, my interview was rocky, and one of the captains proceeded to grill me relentlessly, and guffawed at all my responses. In the following two weeks I was convinced I failed. But I got the call in the end! I start soon.

I wouldn't recommend that to anyone. It was definitely a psychological disadvantage to walk into a room full of slick candidates and then have to walk into the interview with an air of confidence.

Men: Do wear a wool suit in dark blue or gray. Pinstripes are fine, but avoid brown, black, or high fashion brightly colored suits. Sport coats or blazers are out, so is polyester. Tie should be in a solid color such as navy, red, maroon, yellow stripe, or paisley print. Wear a white, off white, or pale blue long sleeved shirt in cotton or a cotton blend. Starch it no matter what the instructions say. No patterned shirts!

Don't: Wear casual or novelty watches, too much jewelry, monograms, religious, political, or fraternity affiliation accessories. Beards are out; mustaches are a gray area. When in doubt, shave it off. Donít wear cell phones, pagers or any other electronic leases.

When my Son Rob was going for his interviews, he had a new suit, shoes, tie, belt, socks and, yes, new underwear. He said it made him feel like the candidate he wanted to be. He did the same thing in his promotional interview last week. He was promoted the same day to Captain.

Are simply slacks and a collared shirt OK? NO! Be professional and look professional.

It doesnít have to be expensive. Go to the Mens Warehouse or a department store that has a sale. Ask for the personal shopper at many fine stores (this service is free). They will get you fixed up in your price range. It will make a big difference.

What if you have an oral interview coming up and they stated to come casual because if you pass you will go right outside and take the physical agility. What do you wear?

Reply: I know candidates who have been to this type of testing wearing sweats. How would you feel if you showed up in sweats and the majority of the other candidates had on suits (with a change of clothes to take the physical)? This has happened.

How about those interviews where you have been informed to wear casual attire?

Reply: Here again candidates have shown up and it looks like the high school prom. Consider wearing casual attire with a sports coat. If it is indeed casual, remove the sports coat.

Candidates will tell me that I don't have a suit or the money to by a nice suit for my oral board. My advice. Rent one and look and feel like the professional you want to be.


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