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Dressing for Site Visits

Congratulations! You aced your first interview and your potential employer wants you to go for a second on-site interview to determine if you are a good fit for the position. There are a lot of guidelines about dressing for a traditional in-office interview, but how do you dress for a manufacturing site? Or a business dinner? And how do you pack for a trip like this? As a general rule, site visits are less formal than in-office interviews. You still have to dress appropriately and professionally. It is an interview, after all – but you also want to be comfortable. 

Quick Links

General dress guidelines
Packing for the trip
Some tips for business travel
A word about expenses

General dress guidelines 

  • Dress appropriately for the site. If you are at a manufacturing site, a suit may not be appropriate. When in doubt, ask the interviewer or recruiter when you are making arrangements for the trip. 
  • Dress comfortably. You may be doing a lot of walking, so make sure that your clothing is appropriate for the climate and that your shoes are comfortable. 
  • Pack an umbrella in case of bad weather. Bring appropriate outerwear. 
  • Make sure your clothes are neatly pressed before the interview. 

Packing for the trip 

This is a business trip, so you probably don’t want to pull out your trusty backpack. If you don’t own a suitcase or garment carrier, borrow one; your clothes will look much better when you arrive at your destination. Most hotels have irons and ironing boards in the rooms, so don’t worry if your shirt is less than perfectly pressed when you unpack. If there isn’t an ironing board and iron in your room, ask the front desk.

What you pack depends on the length of your stay and the climate. You don’t need a completely new outfit for every day; pack items that you can wear more than once. If you are taking a suit, for example, pack a different shirt and tie or blouse and accessories. Even if you plan to wear a suit the entire time, be sure to pack business casual clothing; if the site is more casual than you realized, you will have appropriate clothing on hand. If your employer takes you to dinner, you will probably wear whatever you wore to the interview.

Remember that you are most likely only going to be gone for a day or two. It’s better to think through your wardrobe choices before you pack than to over-pack and have a hard time deciding what to wear the morning of the interview. 

  • Pack extra socks or stockings and an extra shirt or blouse in case you spill something. 
  • Bring a small shoe polish kit and a small sewing kit if you have one; you may have to sew a button back on at the last minute, and not all hotels will have these items in the room. Make sure you have extra safety pins on hand as well. 
  • If your shirt is likely to need more than a light touch-up with the iron, pack spray starch. 
  • You may want to bring a swimsuit or workout clothes, depending on the amenities your hotel offers.
Some tips for business travel 
  • Verify all travel and expense arrangements. If you are expected to pay your own way and seek reimbursement, make sure you can cover the necessary costs before you leave. You don’t want to get stranded halfway across the country with a maxed-out credit card! 
  • Get receipts for everything and save those receipts. You will not get reimbursed without them. 
  • If the employer does not cover travel costs, save your receipts anyway. Work-related expenses may be tax-deductible. 
  • If at all possible, take only carry-on luggage so you don’t have to worry about the airline losing your bags. If you must check your luggage, make sure that the clothes you wear on the plane can be worn at an interview in case of a mishap (at least business casual clothing, not jeans). 
  • Make sure you have clear directions and maps to all locations. Find out approximate travel times so you are not late for any appointments. 
  • Be sure to wear a watch. If you change time zones, be sure to adjust your watch accordingly. 
  • Always carry the name and phone number of your contact person, in case of an emergency. 

A word about expenses 

When you are making your travel plans, be sure to clarify whether the employer will be covering the expenses, and if so, what is covered. Usually your travel and hotel expenses will be paid for, as well as a reasonable allowance for meals and transportation. Expenses are often paid on a reimbursement basis, so be sure to get receipts for everything, including taxi fare. A general guideline for the amount of money for meals is: breakfast $5; lunch $10; dinner $18. This will vary, of course, by the geographic area you are in. Use good judgment and never buy alcoholic drinks on your employer’s tab. At the hotel, don’t order room service, make long-distance phone calls (use your own calling card, a pay phone, or your cellular phone), charge movies to the room, or otherwise incur unnecessary expenses. 

By not taking advantage of your employer’s generosity, you are demonstrating maturity and responsibility - two qualities that all employers are happy to see.