Congratulations, you made the cut! You landed the interview! Now, what to wear… You are well-rested, and have had your coffee
and Wheaties. Your interview is in two hours, and you are standing in front of your closet considering your options. An unsettling thought races through your mind. “I have nothing to wear!”
Never wait until that day of your interview to choose what you are wearing. Frankly, it is stress you don’t need. Just like the other phases of the interview process, preparation produces results. It may seem cliché, but the old adage, “You only have one chance to make a first impression” holds true. The first impression is also a lasting one.
Appearance matters. Before the actual interview begins, you are being examined. From the moment you meet your interviewer, your appearance and body language are sending cues about the type of worker you are. Your smile is the first thing an interviewer sees, so show them your pearly whites. Clothes are a very close second to your smile. Your look should be sharp, not flashy. The idea is to showcase you, not the clothes.
Business casual vs. formal business attire: Formal business attire wins every time. Set yourself apart. You will make much better impression when you “dress for success.” The message you want to convey is that you are reliable and produce results. Professional dress is an expected standard for today’s hiring managers. Dressing like a professional will make you feel like a professional, which is an air of confidence that will not be lost on your interviewer.
So what is the appropriate dress code? Of course, it is a little different for men and women. Check out the tried and true tips below.
Women’s interview attire:
- Suit (navy, black or dark grey) or tailored business attire (dress in the same colors)
- The suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably
- Suit pants should be tailored to fit without being too tight
- Coordinated blouse (white, ivory, or light blue; avoid lace, ruffles or shiny fabrics)
- Conservative shoes (conservative colors, coordinating with your suit or dress)
- Jewelry should be minimal and subtle
- Professional hairstyle
- Neutral pantyhose (if you choose to wear them)
- Light make-up (the natural look)
- Neatly manicured clean nails (opt for clear or french manicure if you go with polish)
- Portfolio or briefcase (instead of, not in addition to, a purse)
Men’s interview attire:
- Conservative two-piece business suit (solid dark blue or grey is best) that fits well
- Clean and pressed white long-sleeve shirt
- Necktie should be silk with a conservative pattern
- Make sure your socks are the same color as your pants
- No visible jewelry (wedding band or college ring are the exception)
- Neat, professional hairstyle
- Neatly trimmed nails
- No beards (unless you are interviewing for a job as a lumberjack!)
- Mustaches are a possible negative, but if you must, make sure it is neat and trimmed
- Portfolio or briefcase
- Black or brown belt with a flat buckle. This should match your shoes.
- Clean, polished formal black or brown leather lace-up shoes
- Empty pockets – no bulges or tinkling coins
Attention to detail is critical. Tips for everyone:
- Keep it simple.
- Suit and shirt should be clean and pressed.
- Avoid perfume and cologne (some people are allergic).
- Well-brushed teeth and fresh breath are a must.
- Finally, check your attire in the restroom just before your interview to make sure you are ready for the moment.
Jaynie Ellison is the Director of Recruitment Services at ExhibitRecruiter, Inc. Established in 1998, ExhibitRecruiter has been the premier recruitment agency specializing in the exhibit and event industry for over a decade. ExhibitRecruiter has partnered with companies of all sizes throughout the