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How to dress for the job interview

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Since the first thing an employer sees when greeting you is your attire, commit to dressing properly. Doing so will give you a competitive edge and a positive first impression that could set the tone for the entire interview.
General Guidelines

  • Keep your look simple and successful.
  • Select professional attire that you like and for which you receive positive feedback from people who are knowledgeable about professional dress.
  • Apparel should be clean and neatly pressed.
  • Clothing should fit well and remain in place while sitting and/or walking.
  • Select apparel, fragrances, jewelry, hairstyle, etc. that do not detract from your professional image. 
  • Hair should be clean, neat and professionally styled. 
  • Remove facial and body piercings. Women may wear a single pair of earrings for interviews.

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Men should wear a nice suit
with a tie.
  • Wear a matching suit in navy, black or gray (pinstripe or solid) or a navy blazer and gray dress slacks.
  • Wear a white or a light blue dress shirt that contrasts with the jacket and/or tie. Arms should be covered to the wrist.
  • A silk (or silk-like) tie should coordinate with the jacket and pant. Subtle or simple patterns enhance credibility.
  • Socks should be calf-length or higher. Choose natural-fiber blends that do not hold in perspiration and heat. Choose dark blue, black or gray.
  • Wear conservative, clean and polished business shoes.
  • Select lace-up (not slip-on) dress shoes that are dark or blend with pant. 
  • Select a leather belt that visually blends or matches your shoes.
  • A short haircut and well-groomed facial hair is expected.
  • Minimize jewelry. Avoid a necklace. Wear no more than one ring per hand plus a dress watch.
  • A full-length coat can be worn over your suit; avoid casual coats.
  • Cologne should never be strong. A fragrance can cause an allergic reaction or offend the interviewer. When in doubt, do not wear cologne.
  • Consider a simple briefcase or portfolio in a color that supports your overall visual effect.

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Women should wear a skirted suit.
  • Select a skirted suit, pantsuit or conservatively tailored dress.
  • Skirts should be knee-length or slightly longer.
  • Select blouses or sweaters that provide visual interest, but avoid transparent, tight fit, low necklines, revealing waistlines, or details that detract from your face. Arms should be covered.
  • Wear plain-style, non-patterned hosiery in colors that flatter your coloring. For traditional industries, wear a neutral color. For other industries, you may choose to wear hose that coordinates with your skirt. Carry an extra pair in case of runs.
  • Perfume should never be strong. When in doubt, do not wear perfume.
  • Use natural-looking makeup and clear nail polish.
  • Don’t carry a purse AND a briefcase. Choose one or the other.
  • Wear clean and polished flat shoes or low pumps in colors that don’t make your feet a focal point. Avoid shoes that hinder walking fast. This lowers credibility. Avoid open-toed shoes.
  • Add accessories to express your personality and accentuate your features such as a scarf or necklace. 
  • Don’t wear too many accessories. Accessories can accentuate your personality and be an asset if worn in moderation. Avoid dangling earrings and wear no more than one ring per hand, plus a dress watch.

On a Tight Budget  
  • Don't wait until you are pressed for time and have to make a hasty decision or a choice that is not in your budget.
  • Purchase clothing with multi-use potential.
  • Invest in impressive, classic, well-made separates that can be combined for a 'professional' or 'casual Friday' look.
  • Select your best ‘neutral’ as a nucleus for your professional wardrobe. Colors like black, dark gray, and navy are versatile. Pearl gray, stone, steel blue, camel, and celery are fashionable options. Your best neutral is dependent on personal coloring and style.
  • Purchase matching components. Wearing a skirt or pant with jacket or vest multiplies possible combinations. Use shirts/blouses/sweaters and ties/scarves and jewelry that add visual variety. Invest in seasonal fabrics that drape and travel well, such as lightweight stretch wool, washable matte jersey or a blend of cotton and rayon.

Research the company dress code
  • Learn the dress code for the industry or company where you want to work. Fields such as law, banking and accounting frequently have stricter dress guidelines than advertising, retail and sales.
  • Career consultants recommend that you dress for a position two levels higher than the one for which you're interviewing.
  • The level of formality you project shows that you understand the importance of the situation and respect the person you are meeting. 
  • When in doubt, make a conservative clothing choice.

Once hired, ask your boss or HR department for the organization’s dress code policy. Codes vary so don’t assume you can wear the same clothes as at your last job. Play it safe by adhering to the organization’s policy.

Take the extra step to dress appropriately for your job interviews! 

What are your thoughts about dressing for success? Share your suggestions and comments via the Contact tab.

Guest post by Lynn Avery, executive interviewing expert.


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  1. "simple and successful." this is important, a lot of people go over board with the fancy clothes.


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