How to Dress for a Job Interview at a Nonprofit
Unlike other business fields that have more clearly defined dress codes (such as a startup or a corporation), nonprofit organizations are kind of a mixed bag, ranging from more corporate organizations to ones that mimic the startup environment and culture.
Here are some tips that will help you start off on the right foot when interviewing for an entry-level job or a paid or unpaid internship at a nonprofit.
1. Research the organization’s culture
One of the best ways to find out what to wear to your interview is to check out the organization’s website and social accounts. These channels will usually give you an indication of how formal the nonprofit is and will often also give you some deeper insights into organization’s culture as a whole.
2. Stick to business casual attire
While a full suit may be too much for most nonprofit jobs, avoid wearing jeans or sneakers unless the hiring manager or HR contact says that it’s okay to do so. A casual interview outfit may be seen as reflecting a casual work attitude to a potential employer, and not in a good way. Instead, opt for a business casual look such as nice pants and a blouse for women or slacks and a button-down shirt for men. And remember to keep things subtle. That includes perfume/cologne, clothing, makeup and even accessories.
Pro Tip: Depending on the position, your interview could include making a quick trip to the program site so be sure to ask about this in advance so that you can properly prepare if need be.
3. If in doubt, ask the hiring manager
Although asking the hiring manager what to wear might seem a bit intimidating, it’s important to remember that it’s always fine to do so. In fact, it’s a question they get asked on a regular basis and one that they’re comfortable answering. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can say something like: “I want to make sure that I’m dressed appropriately for the interview. Do you have any suggestions for suitable attire?”
4. Wear comfortable shoes
If there’s one constant piece of advice when it comes to interview attire, it’s this one: Wear your most appropriate and most comfortable pair of shoes. Good-looking, polished shoes convey attention to detail and this is something that hiring managers almost always notice. So remember not to skimp out when it comes to your footwear.
Interviewing for a role at a nonprofit is a unique experience. Depending on the organization, it could be a very formal or informal process. Regardless of how informal the nonprofit might be, show the interviewer that you respect them by dressing professionally. A clean, attractive appearance shows that you’re truly interested in the position and that you’re going to take it seriously if hired.
Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 10 Tips for the Perfect Cover Letter and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake.