Dressing for the Interview

Present yourself in a manner that reflects a highly polished and professional image. While your interpersonal skills and your ability to formulate responses are the most important elements, appropriate attire supports your image.  The way you dress can greatly enhance or detract from the impression you hope to make with a potential employer.

Business Professional

For any gender, the professional standard is to wear a two-piece, matched suit. A well-tailored or fitted suit will help you present yourself professionally and confidently. Appropriate size is critical not only for comfort, but also for presenting a "clean fit." Acceptable colors for business suits are darker shades and hues (e.g., gray, navy, and black). For each interview, make sure your suit is pressed so you present a sharp appearance.

Business Professional Guidelines for Men

  • men's attireBelts- Select a belt with a simple buckle that matches or complements your shoes.
  • Hair- Clean and well-groomed are good goals for your hair. Shave or neatly trim any facial hair.
  • Shirts- Long-sleeved shirts are most appropriate all year round. Choose white, light blue, or conservative stripes.
  • Ties- Wear patterns that are uniform and subtle, whether stripes or small dots. Deep reds, maroons, blues, navys, grays, and blacks are colors that blend well with dark suits.
  • Shoes- Lace-up, wing tip shoes are the most conservative choice and are almost always universally acceptable. Dressing in your best attire for the interview also means having your shoes shined, if not new.

Business Professional Guidelines for Women

  • women's attire skirtShirt/Sweater- Wear a blouse that complements your suit in a conservative fashion. Typically, it is not recommended that you wear tops that are revealing, high around the neck, or have too many ruffles or frills. White or off-white colors usually match well with many colors. A knit shell is also appropriate underneath your suit jacket.
  • Color- Women generally have more options with suit color than men. Beige, light gray, and slate blue can convey a conservative look. In building your professional wardrobe, navy blue, dark gray, and black are staples.
  • Socks- Wear socks that complement the color of your suit and are long enough for you to cross your legs without showing bare skin or leg hair.
  • Jewelry/Accessories- Limit your jewelry/accessories to a maximum of five pieces. You do not want your jewelry/accessories to distract from what you are saying during the interview.
  • Skirt length- A serious consideration when purchasing or choosing which suit to wear should include the length of your skirt. At minimum, your skirt should cover your thighs when you are seated. A good rule of thumb is that your skirt at least reaches the middle of your knees when standing.
  • Hosiery- Women should always wear hosiery. Select a neutral shade or one that coordinates with your suit.
  • Shoes- Select shoes made of leather or fabric/micro fiber. Choose close-toed pumps that allow you to walk comfortably.
  • Purse/Handbag- Carry a small, simple purse or handbag that coordinates with your shoes. It is also acceptable to bring a small briefcase or business-like tote bag.

Business Casual

While business casual means that you are not required to wear a suit, it does not mean that you should wear whatever you want. Your choice in business casual attire should present a clean and professional appearance.  Business casual attire leans more towards classic, opposed to trendy.

Business Casual Guidelines for Men

  • Pants- Khaki pants or dark colored dress slacks are appropriate for business casual attire. Steer clear of cargo pants, even if they are khaki in color.  Your pants should be pressed and hemmed appropriately.
  • Shirts- Long sleeved button-downed shirts are recommended for most business casual circumstances. Shirts should be solid colored or have a conservative pattern. Your shirt should be pressed.
  • Shoes- Leather shoes should be worn.  Avoid sandals and athletic shoes.  Your shoes should have a clean appearance.

Business Casual Guidelines for Women

  • women's attire pantsPants/Skirts- The fit of the pants/skirt should not be too tight or too loose. Fabrics should be non-denim materials that are pressed or at least give that appearance. It is recommended that pants/skirts be in shades of blacks and browns and/or conservatives patterns. If you choose to wear a skirt, it should be an appropriate length for a business setting. Your skirt should come at least to your knees while you are standing.
  • Shirt/Sweater- Tailored blouses, knit sweaters and/or sweater sets are appropriate choices for women. The fit should not be tight or revealing.
  • Jewelry/Accessories- Keep your choices simple, conservative, and few. Avoid extremes of style and color. If your industry is creative, you may have more flexibility than someone pursuing a conservative industry.
  • Shoes- Should be leather or fabric/microfiber. Avoid shoes that are too shiny, too strappy, or have very high heels.