Whether you are seeking a job or internship, interviewing for graduate school, or starting your first internship or professional job, making a great first impression is critical. The first thing an employer, supervisor, or co-worker sees when they greet you is your appearance and attire.
Although dressing appropriately will not get you the job, internship or promotion alone, it can set you apart from the competition in both a positive and negative way. Therefore, you must always make every effort to wear proper attire or as the cliché goes … “dress for success!”
Proper interview attire
How you present yourself will set the tone of the interview. If you show up looking too casual, the employer will assume that you are not taking the interview seriously. If you arrive over dressed, the employer will assume that you did not bother to do your research on the organization’s culture.
It is very important to put some time into selecting what you will wear to an interview. What you choose to wear should fit the culture of the organization at which you plan to interview and make you feel confident. Spend some time researching the culture of the organization to determine the typical dress code. When in doubt, dress conservatively in business professional attire. A suit is the best choice.
Business professional tips: general advice
- Professional attire begins with personal hygiene – shower, brush your teeth, remove lint from clothing, use deodorant.
- Avoid or modestly use perfume and cologne – some individuals are very sensitive or even allergic to fragrances.
- Consider a fresh haircut.
- Keep hair looking neat and professional. Long hair should be kept out of your face.
Business professional tips: skirts and dresses
- Wear a conservative suit in a solid dark color. The suit skirt should not hit higher than two inches above the knee and must fit properly without tightly clinging to the body.
- Choose a blouse to compliment the suit. Avoid bright colors and patterns if interviewing at a more traditional organization. Be sure the neckline is professional and modest.
- Always wear hose if wearing a skirt. Be sure you have extra pairs on hand.
- Limit the amount of jewelry you wear. Avoid large pieces that draw too much attention.
- Select a closed toe shoe in either a black, navy, or neutral color. Both flats and heels are acceptable. The heel should be a medium height (2-2 ½ inches). Be sure you can walk in whatever shoes you choose.
Business professional tips: traditional business suits
- Wear a conservative single-breasted suit in a solid color with a two, three, or four button jacket.
- Choose a darker color to carry more authority (charcoal, navy, dark gray, black).
- Select a 100 percent wool suit if possible. The fabric wears better than other material and looks more professional and traditional.
- Have your suit altered to fit you properly.
- Avoid colored shirts unless you know the organization’s culture well. A white, long-sleeved, cotton shirt is best. Be sure the collar is stiff but comfortable, the cuffs extend ¼ inch below the suit jacket sleeve, and the shirt has been ironed.
- Select a silk tie that complements and adds some color to your suit. Avoid loud colors and patterns. The width of the tie should be similar to the width of the suit jacket’s lapels. When tied, the bottom of the tie should touch your belt.
Business casual attire
Although some offices maintain business professional attire every day, many organizations operate on a business causal dress code. It is extremely important that you clarify what the dress code is before beginning a new position. It is easiest to think of business causal as a step down from business professional. It does not require a full suit, but many of the same business professional attire rules still apply.
Business casual tips
- Business dresses, skirts, or pants in wool, linen, or cotton blend materials (fit and length remain prime concerns)
- Blouses and sweaters (with sleeves) with modest necklines
- Blouse, blazer, and pair of pants in coordinating colors
- Slacks in wool, linen, or cotton blends. Tan, black, gray, charcoal, navy, brown, and black are all acceptable colors.
- Dress shirts in solid colors or subtle patterns, sweaters, and sport coats are all appropriate.