Dress for Interviews

You are here

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.

Recommendations for MEN

  • Dark suits, properly fitted, preferably wool or wool blend (sports jackets not suggested)
  • Dark dress shoes, polished and buffed (no loafers)
  • Dark dress socks
  • Conservative neck tie (no bright colors or loud patterns)
  • Long-sleeve shirt, even in warm weather
  • Good leather belt (shows your attention to detail)
  • No earrings or other jewelry (wedding or class ring permitted)
  • Well-groomed facial hair
  • No long side burns or long hair
  • Nails - trim and clean

Recommendations for WOMEN

  • Dark coordinated suits, properly fitted (not provocative), with matching dress blouse (no plunging neckline)
  • Skirt length no more than one inch above the knee
  • Polished matching dress shoes with moderate heel (no open toe/heeled shoes or platforms)
  • Neutral colored hose (no runs)
  • Hair past shoulder length pulled away from face
  • Minimal conservative classic jewelry (no flashy, dangling earrings)
  • Natural looking make-up
  • Clear or conservatively colored nail polish, no chipped nail polish

Recommendations for ALL

  • Dress watch and nice pen (speaks volumes about your understanding of quality)
  • Freshly bathed/showered (no body odor, use deodorant) and fresh breath
  • Freshly pressed clothing (remove lint and pet hair with lint brush)

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