Career Services

Dress For Success

The interview provides you with the opportunity to sell yourself. The first impression you make on a recruiter or potential supervisor is crucial to the construction of your professional image. Here are some tips to help you make a professional first impression on your interview.

The Suit:

  • The sleeves should taper gradually, ending just over the wrist so the shirt cuff extends about 1/2 inch beyond the jacket sleeve.
  • The pant leg bottom in the front should touch the front of the shoe and angle towards the back of the shoe to fall just above the heel. Pant cuff or no cuff is a personal choice.
  • Choose dark colors, such as navy, gray, or coffee beige. The suit should be a solid color or subtle pinstripes.
  • The fabric should be worsted wool or gabardine, a firm hard-finish durable fabric (such as lightweight wool or rayon).
  • If wearing a skirt instead of pants, make sure skirt length is just at knee length, either right above or right below the knee
  • A suit is always the first choice, but if unavailable, a navy jacket or blazer with black or navy buttons and gray or beige pants, or a business dress with a jacket are acceptable.
  • Err on the conservative side. Generally, if your interview attire speaks louder than you, you won't be heard. 

The Shirt:

  • The button down collar offers a more casual look than the more formal business style of a point collar.
  • Choose a good fit, neatly pressed.
  • Best colors include white, pale blue, tan, or yellow.
  • If wearing an undershirt, avoid v-neck style since the neckline may show.
  • Do not wear a low-cut or see-through shirt.
  • The tie should be darker than your shirt and should not extend below the belt.
  • The tie should be in solid colors or small patterns.

Personal Hygiene:

  • Practice good hygiene: shave, brush teeth, and use deodorant.
  • Wear hair so it's not falling into your face or covering your eyes.
  • Have clean and trimmed fingernails.
  • Make sure all clothing is clean and neatly pressed and coordinated.
  • Keep cologne, perfume, after-shave, etc. to a minimum; apply at least two hours before the interview. Best approach -- don't wear it at all.

The Accessories:

  • The belt should match your shoes and suit.
  • Best shoe choice is a conservative style with laces. Best shoe colors are black, brown, or burgundy and should match your belt.
  • Do not wear open toe or open heel shoes or heels higher than two inches.
  • Socks should be long and cover your ankle, preferably in black/brown/gray and not white. 
  • Wear hosiery that is close to your skin color
  • Avoid bright colors and excessive amounts of both make-up and jewelry.
  • Light shades of lip coloring and nail polish are recommended.
  • Earrings should be small studs

General Tips:

  • Carry a briefcase or portfolio with copies of your resume. Interviewers can avoid carrying a purse this way. 
  • Give a firm handshake at the beginning and end of the interview
  • Maintain steady eye contact with the interviewer/s
  • Smile and maintain good posture--the latter communicated confidence and leadership
  • Thank them for their time
  • Ask the recruiter for a business card
  • Dress for the interview, not the job

Related Websites

About.Com How to Dress for Interview     
About.Com Dressing for Success    
YouTube How to Dress for Job Interview         
College Grad:  Dressing for Success     
Monster:  Dressing for the Interview by Industry