Dressing for Job Interviews

Dressing for a Job Interview Doesn’t have to be tough

Some very great advice from CollegeGrad on dressing for your next interview.

Dressing for Interview Success

While the college campus may be the perfect forum in which to exhibit your flair for the latest in fashion style, the interview is not the place to do so. With very few unusual exceptions (such as some tech companies or creative ad agencies), sandals and sweatshirts are out. Business suits are still in when it comes to interviewing. I don’t like a necktie (noose?) any better than the next person, but it is still a fact of life in interviewing. Even though many companies have relaxed the internal company dress code, interviews still follow the conservative standard. Don’t buck the trend.

Unfortunately, most college grads are woefully underprepared with proper interview dress. They feel they can “get by” with what is already in their wardrobe. Usually not. Dress for the world outside college is quite different from the campus scene. Remember that stylish is typically not conservative. Conservative is “in” for interviewing. Why? Because you should be doing the talking, not your clothes.

This is not to say that you need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. Go for quality over quantity. One or two well-chosen business suits will serve you all the way to the first day on the job and beyond. Then, when you are making some money (and have a chance to see what the standard “uniform” is for the company), you can begin to round out your wardrobe. For now, no one will fault you for wearing the same sharp outfit each time you interview. If you desire some variety within a limited budget, you might consider varying your shirt/blouse/tie/accessories as a simple way to change your look without breaking your wallet.

For those of you who need a quick review of the basics, follow these guidelines for successful interview dress:

Men and Women

  • Conservative two-piece business suit (solid dark blue or grey is best)
  • Conservative long-sleeved shirt/blouse (white is best, pastel is next best)
  • Clean, polished conservative shoes
  • Well-groomed hairstyle
  • Clean, trimmed fingernails
  • Minimal cologne or perfume
  • Empty pockets—no bulges or tinkling coins
  • No gum, candy, or cigarettes
  • Light briefcase or portfolio case
  • No visible body piercing (nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.) or tatoos

Men

  • Necktie should be silk with a conservative pattern
  • Dark shoes (black lace-ups are best)
  • Dark socks (black is best)
  • Get a haircut; short hair always fares best in interviews
  • Fresh shave; mustaches are a possible negative, but if you must, make sure it is neat and trimmed
  • No beards (you can grow it back after you get the job, but having one now could keep you from getting the job)
  • No rings other than wedding ring or college ring
  • No earrings (if you normally wear one, take it out)

Women

  • Wear a suit with a jacket and skirt or slacks; no dresses
  • Shoes with conservative heels
  • Conservative hosiery at or near skin color (and no runs!)
  • No purses, small or large; carry a briefcase instead
  • If you wear nail polish, use clear or a conservative color
  • Keep your makeup simple and natural (it should not be too noticeable)
  • No more than one ring on each hand
  • One set of earrings only