Career Development Center

Dressing for Interview Success

Dressing for Interview Success

Even though many companies have relaxed their internal company dress codes, interviews still follow the conservative standard. Dress for the world outside college is quite different from the campus scene. Conservative is in for interviewing. Why? You should be doing the talking, not your clothes.

This is not to say that you need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. Go for quality over quantity. One or two well-chosen business suits will serve you all the way to the first day on the job and beyond. No one will fault you for wearing the same sharp outfit each time you interview.

If you desire some variety within a limited budget, you might consider varying your shirt/blouse/tie/ accessories as a simple way to change your look without breaking your wallet.

For those who need a quick review of the basics, follow these guidelines for successful interview dress:

Men and Women

  • Conservative two-piece business suit, with slacks or skirt (solid dark blue or grey is best)
  • Conservative long-sleeved shirt/blouse (white is best, pastel is next best)
  • Clean, polished conservative shoes; conventional heels for women
  • Dark socks (black is best)
  • Well-groomed hairstyle
  • Clean, trimmed fingernails
  • Minimal cologne or perfume
  • Empty pockets, no bulges or tinkling coins
  • No gum, candy, or cigarettes
  • Light briefcase or portfolio case; no purses, small or large
  • No visible body piercing (nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.) or tattoos
  • Necktie should be clean with a conservative pattern
  • Get a haircut; short or tightly controlled hair always fares best in interviews
  • Fresh shave; mustaches are a possible negative, but if you must, make sure it is neat and trimmed
  • Beards are highly discouraged (unless you are interviewing for a job as a lumberjack!)
  • No rings other than wedding ring or college ring; no more than one on each hand
  • No earrings for men (if you normally wear one, take it out); one set only for women
  • Conservative hosiery at or near skin color (no runs!)
  • If you use nail polish, use a clear or conservative color
  • Keep your makeup simple and natural

If you are still not sure how to dress for the interview, call and ask! That’s right, call the employer. But this is one time when you do not want to call the Hiring Manager. Instead, ask to be put through to Human Resources and say:

I have an interview with _____ in the _____ department for a position as an _____. Could you please tell me what would be appropriate dress for this interview?

For more information on preparing for an upcoming job interview, we recommend that you contact the Career Development Center at 360-867-6193 to schedule an appointment with one of our Career Advisors.