Dressing a job interview is always a challenge, but a music business job interview? Extra tough. You don't want to come off looking too, you know, "business-y," but you also don't to come off looking like a slob who isn't taking the potential job seriously. How do you strike the right balance?
You're hoping for a good, solid, hard and fast rule. Here's the bad news - there aren't any. The good news is that you can really take the whole "music" factor out of the equation and plan for this interview as you would any other. Here are some good rules of thumb to keep in mind as you select your effortless cool, perfectly picked music biz interview get-up:
First, consider the position. You may be thinking that you don't want to look like you're interviewing with a law firm or an investment bank, but if you're interviewing to do legal work or financials within the music industry, that is exactly who you're interviewing with. The legal team at a major record label is probably going to want to see you dressed as a legal professional when you show up to interview, for instance. Even if the office culture is more relaxed, go for professional business attire for these types of interviews and save the Ramones t-shirt for when you actually have the job.
Speaking of office culture, consider it. If you've ever visited the company, you already have a feel for the general dress code, but if you haven't been through HQ doors, use the company's website and social media profiles to get a read on the casualness of the office environment. You may also be able to draw some general conclusions based on the type of music industry work the business does. If they're a music marketing company out meeting people regularly, for example, the dress code may be turned up a notch when compared to a small indie label that has three people on staff and is based in someone's home office.
Whatever you assume the company's usual dress code to be, dress for your interview one step up from there. If you think the company usually rolls in jeans and tees, rock what you mom might call "dress slacks" or skirt, and so on and so forth. This should land you in the "I'm taking this job seriously but I'm not so overdressed that I feel like you're going to mock me when I leave" category - a good place to be.
When in doubt, pull out all the stops. You may feel a little uncomfortable sitting there in your finest attire when you're the only one in the office without a stain of indeterminable origins on their clothes, but not nearly as uncomfortable as you'll feel if you're the only one in the building who isn't wearing something extracted from a pile on the floor that morning. A job interview fashion decision is one situation in which overdoing it can be your friend.
So, what do you do if you completely blow your music biz job interview outfitting? Take it in stride and don't let it throw you off your game during the actual interview. Remember, they're not looking to hire you for your fashion sense (can you imagine dressing for an interview in the fashion industry? Now, THERE is a challenge). If it feels right, you can make a little joke about your clothing misfire and break the ice. If it doesn't, just get your game face on and dazzle them with your music industry knowledge and experience. Someday, once you've landed the job, you can look back and laugh - and be glad you don't have to go through the interview again.