Dressing for a Successful Interview

I’ll never forget the advice I got from a mentor many years ago when I asked for input on what to wear to my first major interview:  “If you are only remembered for what you wore to the interview, you probably made a wardrobe mistake.”

Making the right decision on appropriate attire can be difficult, especially since you’re likely coming from a casual environment and most work places now tout a more informal atmosphere.  However, don’t assume that interview attire should be casual, even if you have taken the time to inquire if you’re entering a so-called casual workplace.  I recommend traditional and conservative attire for the first interview even if you’re visiting a casual workplace.  It shows respect for the process, and suggests that you might be headed to another interview afterwards.  I wore business attire to my first interview, and was asked to return to the following day for additional discussions with the specific invitation to “dress casual.”  Since I only had one suit back then, I was pleased with the dispensation. 

About.com provides some excellent tips and suggestions for job search attire, including basic recommendations for a proper interview.  Here are some specific suggestions:   

  Women’s Interview Attire

  • Solid color, conservative suit
  • Coordinated blouse
  • Moderate shoes
  • Limited jewelry
  • Neat, professional hairstyle
  • Tan or light hosiery
  • Sparse make-up & perfume
  • Manicured nails
  • Portfolio or briefcase

  Men’s Interview Attire

  • Solid color, conservative suit
  • White long sleeve shirt
  • Conservative tie
  • Dark socks, professional shoes
  • Very limited jewelry
  • Neat, professional hairstyle
  • Go easy on the aftershave
  • Neatly trimmed nails
  • Portfolio or briefcase

1 comment on this post.
  1. Stacey Stewart:

    This is an extremely helpful post. I just finished an interview, and I can honestly say that I stressed more about my outfit than about the interview. Some people have said that overall office culture has changed and interview attire can be more casual than in previous years. However, I think it is important to overdress for the interview. Like you said, dressing appropriately shows that you respect the company. Enough from me..Great post!

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