Dressing for an Interview

What we wear says a lot about us, whether we like it or not. And never are our clothing choices more important than at a job interview. Conscious and subconscious judgements are quickly made based on appearances, so it’s important to know what will make the best first impression. Proper interview attire may seem obvious to some job seekers, but for students just entering the workforce, it’s not always easy. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you start the interview off right.


Play it Safe

It is generally better to be overdressed for an interview than to be wearing attire that’s too casual. Your best bet is to choose a basic black or navy suit paired with a button down shirt (and a tie if you are male). Be sure clothing is not too baggy or tight. If something doesn’t fit well, invest in a tailor. Not only do you want to be as comfortable as possible during the interview, but you also don’t want to distract your interviewers with ill-fitting clothes. If you are wearing a skirt or dress, keep the hem at or below the knees. Wear dress shoes that cover the feet (no sandals or flip-flops!) and bring along a black portfolio to store your resume and other documents.

Keep it Simple

A job interview is not a good time to try out a fun new makeup look or to show off a dramatic accessory. The focus should be on your qualifications for the job, not on your accessories (unless you’re in the fashion industry). Ties and shirts should be solid or with a simple pattern. Steer clear of bright colors or distracting prints. Makeup should be neutral and not too heavy. Although these rules hold for most industries, there are exceptions. That’s why it’s important to be aware of industry norms.

Know Your Industry

Some industries will deviate from the standard dark colored suit ensemble. An interview for work in the fashion industry, for example, may call for a creative look. Know the standards of your industry by talking to professionals in the field. Each employer has different expectations, so it may be best to ask your recruiter or other company representative about proper interview attire.

Remember, modesty is the best policy for a job interview. When in doubt, play it safe and dress as professionally as possible. For more information on job interview success, read Best Answers to the 201 Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions, Second Edition