Appropriate Dress for
There is something to be said for first impressions. Appearance is the first
thing you communicate to others. Before you have a chance to speak, others
notice how you dress and draw conclusions about you accordingly. Appropriate
dress is one of the most important factors in your job search. Your dress
creates an impression that can complement your credentials and give you an
extra edge over a field of other qualified competent individuals.
There are standards of professional dress in all career fields. Some industries
are more traditional, such as banking, consulting and business. Let the dress
standards in the field(s) in which you are interviewing be a guide to what you
wear for your interview. Attire in fields such as advertising, the arts,
fashion, communications and entertainment is generally less conservative, so
the rules are a bit more relaxed. Their dress code may be one of
Business Casual Dress.
Business Dress for Interviews/Job Fairs
Men's Interview Attire
- Suit-(solid color -
Black for men was once considered severe or overly formal, and may still be
considered so in very conservative industries, although it is commonly worn by
many. Other color trends may come and go; avoid the extremes. Choose a solid or
very subtle weave pattern or plaid (the kind that look solid across a room).
Wool, wool blends, or very high quality blends with natural fiber, are the only
acceptable fabrics for a conservative men's suit)
sleeve shirt- (Choose white or light blue solid, or conservative stripes or coordinated with the suit)
or cordovan leather, to match your shoes.
styles come and go. Select good quality silk ties. Avoid fashion extremes, like
character ties, in interviews. Notice what men in your industry wear on the
job, at career fairs, at information sessions, when they meet with clients.)
socks, conservative leather shoes-Dark socks, mid-calf length so no skin is
visible when you sit down.
a conservative watch. If you choose to wear other jewelry, be conservative.
Removing earrings is safest. For conservative industries, don't wear earrings.
Observe other men in your industry to see what is acceptable.
hair-If worn, should be well-groomed. Observe men in your industry if you
are unsure what's appropriate or are considering changing your look
should be clean and well pressed. Suits typically have tacking stitches to hold
vents — on the jacket back and on sleeves — in place before the garment is
purchased. Cut them off if your retailer / tailor doesn't. And that tag
stitched on the outside of your sleeve is not meant to stay there like a Tommy
Hilfiger label — cut it off! Carefully inspect clothes dangling threads, etc.
Women's Interview Attire
- Suit - (navy, black or dark grey)-Wear a two-piece matched suit. Tailored pants suits
are appropriate for women. Pants suits can be an excellent choice for site
visits, particularly if the visit involves getting in and out of vehicles
and/or the site is (or includes) a manufacturing plant or industrial facility.
If you wear pants, they should be creased and tailored, not tight or flowing.
If you are pursuing a conservative industry and are in doubt, observe well
dressed women in your industry on the job, at career fairs, at information
lengths - Much of what you see on television shows that masquerades for
professional attire is actually inappropriate for a work environment. Your
skirt should cover your thighs when you are seated. Showing a lot of thigh
makes you look naive at best, foolish at worst. A skirt that ends at the knee
when you're standing looks chic and professional. Longer skirts are
professional too; just make sure they are narrow enough not to be billowing,
but not so narrow that you can't climb stairs comfortably. Don't purchase a
skirt or decide on a hem length until you sit in the skirt facing a mirror.
That's what your interviewer will see. Ask yourself whether it will be
distracting or reinforce your image as a person who looks appropriate for a
business environment or gathering. High slits in skirts are not appropriate. A
small back, center slit in a knee-length skirt is appropriate. On a calf length
skirt, a slit to the knee to facilitate walking and stair climbing is
suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably
blouse - Underneath the suit jacket, wear a tailored blouse in a color or
small print that coordinates nicely with your suit. A fine gauge, good quality
knit shell is also appropriate underneath your suit jacket. Don't show
shoes - Should be leather or fabric / micro fiber. Shoe styles and heel
heights come and go. Choose closed-toe pumps. Regardless of what is in style,
avoid extremes; no stilettos or chunky platforms. Make certain you can walk
comfortably in your shoes; hobbling in uncomfortable shoes does not convey a
jewelry/accessories - (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets) No
jewelry is better than cheap jewelry. Wear a conservative watch. Jewelry
and scarf styles come and go. Keep your choices simple and leaning toward
conservative. Avoid extremes of style and color
pantyhose - Should be plainly styled (no patterns), sheer (not opaque), and
in neutral colors complementing your suit. Avoid high contrast between your
suit and hosiery color.
on the perfume
- Cosmetics - Keep
makeup conservative. A little is usually better than none for a polished look.
Nails should be clean and well groomed. Avoid extremes of nail length and
polish color, especially in conservative industries.
manicured clean nails
or briefcase - Pad folios - Preferred over a bulky briefcase. A small briefcase
is also appropriate. But if you have no reason to carry a briefcase, don't; you
risk looking silly.
/ bag - If you carry a purse, keep it small and simple, especially if you
also carry a briefcase. Purse color should coordinate with your shoes. You may
choose to carry a small briefcase or business-like tote bag in place of a
purse. Leather is the best choice for briefcases; micro fiber or fine woven's
are also acceptable.
What Not to Bring to the Interview
Grooming tips for everyone
Should be clean and neat.
Should be in polished condition. Make sure heels are not worn.
No missing buttons, no lint; and don't forget to remove external tags and
tacking stitches from new clothes.
Clothes should be clean, neatly pressed, and fit properly.
Perfume or cologne should be used sparingly or not at all. No odors in clothes.
Don't smell like smoke.
- Pad folios:
Preferred over a bulky briefcase. A small briefcase is also appropriate. But if
you have no reason to carry a briefcase, don't; you risk looking silly.
- Book bags:
Leave it at home for an on-site interview. For an on-campus interview, you can
leave it in the waiting area.
A suit for both women and men is almost always appropriate for all types of
interviews. Buy the best quality business suit you can afford. Make sure it
fits well, is comfortable, and is pressed before you wear it.
Top 20 Wardrobe Malfunctions
What is the worst outfit ever worn to a job interview? For a career
services director at the University of Chicago, it was the applicant who
sported a Madras tie as a belt and a patterned cotton hat. Other contenders,
according to a CareerBuilder.com survey of hiring managers, include candidates
with dirty fingernails, micro-miniskirts, t-shirts with offensive slogans and
even bare feet!
- Carrying a backpack or fannypack instead of a
briefcase or portfolio: Some image consultants suggest women ditch
their purse, too!
- Sunglasses on top of your head or headphones around
your neck: Be sure to remove all your "transit gear" and tuck it in
your briefcase before entering the lobby.
- Too-short skirts: Forget what some of
those gals on 'The Apprentice' are wearing. Your skirt should cover your thighs
when you are seated.
- The wrong tie: Ties should be made of
silk, no less than three and a quarter inches wide with a conservative pattern.
Image consultants say the best colors are red or burgundy.
- Overly bright or large-patterned clothing:
With the possible exception of creative fields like advertising or
computer programming, it's best to stick with navy, black or gray.
- Heavy makeup on women (or any makeup on
- Earrings on men: In fact, men should
avoid wearing any jewelry unless it is a wedding ring, class ring or metal
- More than one set of earrings on women
- Facial piercings, tongue jewelry or visible tattoos
- Ill-fitting clothes. Few people can
wear things straight off the rack. Spending a little extra to have your
garments tailored is a worthwhile investment.
- Long fingernails, especially with bright or
specialty polishes. Nails should look clean and be trimmed to a
length that doesn't leave an observer wondering how you keep from stabbing
- Unnatural hair colors or styles.
Remember, Donald Trump was a billionaire well before he began wearing a
comb-over. If you're balding, try a close-cropped cut like Bruce Willis or Matt
- Short-sleeved shirts, even worse when
worn with a tie
- Fishnets, patterned hosiery or bare legs
(no matter how tan you are): Women should stick with neutral color hosiery that
complements their suit.
- Men whose socks don't match their shoes, or whose
socks are too short and leave a gap of flesh when they are seated
- Rumpled or stained clothing: If
interviewing late in the day, try to change to a fresh suit beforehand.
- Scuffed or inappropriate footwear,
including sneakers, stilettos, open-toed shoes and sandals
- Strong aftershaves, perfumes or colognes:
Many people are allergic to certain scents. For a subtle fragrance, use a good
quality bath soap.
- Belts and shoes that don't match: Shoes
and belts should be made of leather or leather-like materials and the best
colors for men are black or cordovan.
- Telltale signs that your wearing a new suit.
Remove all tags and extra buttons -- and remember to cut off the zigzag thread
that keeps pockets and slits closed!
(both men and women)
Err on the side of formality rather than informality, and keep your outfit
simple instead of showy.
- Fragrance: Go easy on your
fragrance - do not let too much perfume, cologne, or aftershave be overwhelming
- Semi-casual attire for
women is a dress or a skirt and blouse with or without a jacket. For men
it is a sport coat and dress slacks, with a tie. A navy blue blazer is a good
addition to your wardrobe for both men and women.
What to Wear When??-Back
For most interviews, business dress is the best choice. Remember that you never
get a second chance to make a good first impression! Even the best clothes in
the perfect color will not look good if they are wrinkled or dirty. Make sure
your suit and shirt/blouse are freshly pressed and your shoes are polished.
Information On When to Wear Business Casual:
Traveling to an On-Site Interview
While traveling to an on-site interview, semi-casual attire or business dress
(see above), is best. You may meet someone when traveling or be met upon
arrival by someone who will have a part in the hiring process.
If you are attending an evening reception or dinner as part of your interview
process, business dress is most suitable unless otherwise specified in the
For employer presentations/receptions on-campus, semi-casual or casual dress is
acceptable, while business dress is most appropriate for presentations or
receptions off-campus unless otherwise stated by the employer.
For career fairs, business dress is best if you are prospecting for job leads.
If you are looking for internship leads, semi-casual or casual attire is
Picking Up / Dropping Off
For picking up or dropping off a resume or application at an employer's office,
it is suggested that you wear semi-casual dress.