Dress for Interviews | Kent State University

Dress for Interviews

Experts agree that a conservative, professional approach to dress for an interview is best. While the organization, career field, and perspective of the interviewer all influence expectations, it's your appearance that makes the first impression.

Keep in mind that different industries have their own dress code standards.  Financial sectors tend to be conservative and expect that a suit be worn to an interview.  On the other hand, a candidate may be overdressed in a suit if pursuing a career in parks and recreation.  It is important to research these standards before an interview, and if in doubt, err on the conservative side.


Why Dress Professionally?

Experts agree that a conservative, professional approach to dress for an interview is best. While the organization, career field, and perspective of the interviewer all influence expectations, it's your appearance that makes the first impression.

Shirts

  • Dress shirt- a conservatively-colored beige, white, black, or blue is a safe range to stay within. Long sleeved shirts are best.
  • Polo shirts- okay if the environment is to be more casual.
  • Dress blouses- try to avoid plunging neck lines or bright colors. Conservative colors and patterns are best.

Blazers and Suits

  • Coordinated Pant Suits- Dark colors are best- black or navy blue.
  • Suits- Dark colored suits, properly fitted, wool or wool-blend suits are preferred.
  • Blazers- Dark colored and conservatively patterned. Best if worn over dresses or coordinated blouses. Sports Jackets are not preferred.

Dresses and Skirts

  • Skirts- Not more than one inch above the knee is best, dark or conservatively colored.
  • Dresses- Not more than one inch above the knee, conservatively colored, no thin straps. Best if worn underneath a coordinating jacket or blazer. Fabric should not be overly tight.

Accessories

  • Ties- Conservative ties- no bright colors or loud patterns.
  • Belts- A good leather or faux leather belt to show attention to detail and quality.
  • Jewelry- Minimal and conservative jewelry- not overly large or flashy.
  • Watches- Dress watches are best. Nothing overly flashy.

Hygiene- Hair, makeup, etc.

  • Nails- Trimmed or filed, neat and clean. Nail polish should not be chipped, and should be conservatively or classically colored.
  • Hair- Brushed and polished-looking. Hair past shoulder length should be pulled back from the face.
  • Facial Hair- Well-groomed and trimmed.
  • Cologne/Perfume- Just a dab will do- not too heavy.
  • Showered/Bathed- Make sure you are freshly showered! Use deodorant and make sure breath is fresh.
  • Makeup- Minimal and conservative makeup is best.

Socks and Shoes

  • Dress Shoes- Dark colors, polished and buffed. No loafers.
  • Dress Socks- Dark colored socks, conservative, minimal patterns.
  • Dress Heels- Moderately- tall heels are best, in dark or conservative colors. Nothing too tall- no platforms or open-toe or open-heel shoes.
  • Hose and Tights- Neutral-colored, no runs.

Other Considerations

  • Pen and Portfolio- Bring a nice pen and a professional portfolio for resume copies instead of a backpack.
  • Clothing- Should be freshly washed and pressed, as well as lint-rolled.
  • Fit- Make sure clothing is properly fitted, not ripped, and not missing buttons.
  • Tattoos- Consider covering heavy or excessive tattoos and body piercings.
  • Teeth- Make sure they are clean! No smoking prior to interviews.
  • Posture and Handshake- Upright and confident posture, firm handshake.

Image Breakers

  • Heavy cologne/perfume
  • Visible tattoos or body piercings and unnatural hair color (purple, green, orange, etc.)
  • Poor posture (stand and sit up straight)
  • Lack of a firm handshake, sweaty palms
  • Overstuffed briefcase, bag, or pockets
  • Scuffed shoes
  • Chewing gum, smoking prior to the interview, something stuck in your teeth
  • Loose or missing buttons, clothing that is wrinkled, too tight, or too big