Dress for success

Dress for success

Dress for success

First impressions matter, whether meeting someone at a social event or interviewing for a job.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one. You need to look professional, confident, and competent. 

To help you decide what to wear to an interview, visit the company and notice what people are wearing. A rule of thumb is to dress one step above the dress required for the job. Workplaces, industries, and parts of the country vary greatly in terms of what clothing is considered appropriate. Do not wear a suit to an interview at a construction site, and do not wear jeans and a sport shirt to an office setting. However, it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed for any interview.

If there may be an expectation of you performing a task as part of the interview, wear or bring necessary gear. For instance, if you are applying for a job as a welder, you may be asked to demonstrate your skills so bring work clothes and tools along.

The moment an individual sees you, he or she evaluates:

  • Clothing
  • Hairstyle
  • Grooming habits

Interview dress for men

Use the following list to check yourself prior to an interview. Ask for an opinion from a friend or job counselor if you're unsure.

  • Hair should be trimmed above the ears. Have a clean shave. If you have a beard or a mustache, be sure to trim neatly.
  • Wear glasses with up-to-date frames and clean lenses. Do not wear sunglasses.
  • Wear no more than one ring on each hand and a watch. Do not wear any other jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces or earrings.

Depending on the position you are applying for, wear:

  • Dark suit, black, navy blue or gray, single breasted; white or pinstripe dress shirt and conservative patterned tie.
  • Navy blue or gray jacket; coordinated gray, tan, or charcoal slacks; white or pinstripe dress shirt and conservative tie.
  • White, pastel, or pinstripe dress shirt and conservative tie; coordinated navy blue, gray, charcoal, or brown slacks.
  • Plain collared shirt; coordinated navy blue, gray, charcoal, or brown slacks.
  • Clean sports shirt and clean casual pants.
  • Tip of the tie should come to the top or center of belt buckle.
  • Belt should show no signs of wear or weight gain/loss; should match shoes.
  • Nails should be cut short, filed and clean.
  • Wear black or brown shined shoes with dark socks. Work boots may be appropriate for some job interviews. No flip flops or tennis shoes.
  • No aftershave, cologne, or strong-smelling deodorants, and no smoking.
  • Carry a good leather or leather-like portfolio or slim briefcase.
  • Tattoos and visible facial piercings still carry a stigma in many settings; you may choose to remove jewelry/hardware from piercings and cover tattoos for the interview.

Interview dress for women

Use the following list to check yourself prior to an interview. Ask for an opinion from a friend or job counselor if you're unsure.

  • Hair should be clean and styled or tied back in a professional look.
  • If you wear make up, keep it simple. Avoid bright colors or too heavy an application.
  • Wear glasses with up-to-date frames and clean lenses. Do not wear sunglasses.
  • Wear simple jewelry, no more than one ring per hand; no more than one bracelet.

Depending on the position you are applying for, wear:

  • A seasonal dark business suit in solid color or conservative pattern with tailored pants or skirt; blouse in a complimentary solid color such as white, cream or pastel; skirt suit should reach the knee.
  • Jacket in solid color or pinstripe; coordinating blouse and tailored pants in appropriate length.
  • Tailored dress in solid color or conservative print; appropriate length.
  • Tailored blouse; coordinating tailored pants or skirt in solid color or conservative print or pattern and appropriate length.
  • Collared shirt; coordinated slacks.
  • Nails should be short to medium length; if manicured, use light or clear polish.
  • Professional shoes; no nicks in heels; no flip flops or tennis shoes.
  • No perfume, cologne, or strong-smelling deodorant, and no smoking.
  • Carry a good leather or leather-like portfolio or purse.
  • Avoid any clothing that is too short or too revealing.
  • Tattoos and visible facial piercings still carry a stigma in many settings. You may choose to remove jewelry from piercings and cover tattoos for the interview.

Keep in mind that appropriate dress and grooming are critical to making a good first impression. These guidelines will help you make a good first impression not just in the interview but also during networking and after you are hired.