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Dressing for Interview Success

As Will Rogers said, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Your interview image must be buffed and polished until you have mastered a flawless presentation of yourself. Your personal image extends well beyond the interview. Every contact with the interviewer (résumé, cover letter, telephone calls, information sessions, etc.) must reflect your professional image. 

Your appearance tells people how you feel about yourself as an applicant, as well as how you feel about the interviewer(s), the company, and the process of interviewing itself. The correct image at an interview will give you a real edge over your competition, and will add to your own sense of self-esteem and confidence.

Interview Appearance Tips

Within the first five seconds of meeting someone, you are generally evaluated on your appearance. It is important that your appearance match the culture of the company. One way to do this is to visit the company to see how people who work there are dressed or ask people that you know in the professional workplace. For example, in most public and private accounting firms women wear skirted suits. Therefore, interviewing in a pantsuit would most likely be unacceptable for such accounting positions. Many companies do have business casual dress one or more days a week. Business casual dress is still inappropriate for interviewing.

Invest in your interviews as you have invested into your education. If you need a book for a class, you buy it. If you need a suit for interviewing, buy it. Buy the highest quality suit you can afford. We recommend a lined, all-season wool suit. It will pay off in the long run.

General Tips

  • You can never go wrong if you dress conservatively
  • Clothes should be wrinkle-free and clean
  • All tags should be removed from clothing
  • Make sure your clothes are lint-free
  • Shirt cuffs should extend ½ inch below the jacket sleeve
  • Jewelry should be kept to a minimum; wear only gold or silver
  • Wear a dress watch, not a plastic band watch
  • Always have fresh breath, but do not keep gum or mints in your mouth
  • Avoid having smoker’s breath or smoker’s clothing
  • Do not wear perfume or cologne
  • Wear deodorant
  • Refrain from bringing backpacks into the interview

Examples:
How to Dress [PDF]

Examples shown above include both professional dress and business casual. When interviewing (for both jobs and internships) follow the professional dress guidelines (a suit).

Men

  • Wear a navy or dark gray suit for the first interview
  • The jacket should match the pants
  • Wear a pressed and starched white or ivory long-sleeved shirt; 100 percent cotton is recommended
  • The tie should be conservative; avoid a distracting eye-catching tie
  • Do not wear a lot of jewelry, such as, earrings, necklaces and bracelets
  • The tie should reach right above your belt buckle
  • Always wear a belt if the pant has belt loops; a black leather belt is recommended
  • Wear black shoes (wing tips) that do not have scuff marks or a worn heel
  • Wear black calf length socks
  • Always button your jacket; it’s o.k. to unbutton when you sit down
  • Shave before the interview

Women

  • Wear a navy or other dark colored skirted suit for the first interview
  • In most first interviews, pantsuits are unacceptable
  • The jacket and skirt should match, and the same color is recommended
  • The skirt length should be at least to the knee
  • Wear a non-wrinkled blouse that complements your suit; cotton or silk is recommended
  • Wear closed-toe leather classic pumps with heels no higher than 3" and no scuff marks
  • If you bring a purse, it should be compact and match the color of your shoes
  • No more than six pieces of jewelry (2 rings, 2 earrings, 1 watch, and 1 bracelet) should be worn; earrings should be small
  • Get a haircut one month before interviewing to make sure you are comfortable with the cut. Short hair is recommended for business; however, if your hair is longer pull it back or put it up. If you dye your hair, make sure that your roots are not showing. Makeup should be minimal and in neutral colors
  • Hands should be manicured; clear or neutral nail polish is recommended
  • Wear skin-tone hosiery (your hosiery should not be darker than your shoes); patterned hosiery is not appropriate