Career Development: How to Dress for a Job Interview

By Purnell T. Cropper | November 4, 2011

By Fallon McAnany, Career Development Grad Assistant

Interviews are often the first time that employers meet the person behind the resume. When dressing for an interview, it is important to dress professionally and modestly to keep the focus on you as a professional and avoid unnecessary distractions. For women, be sure to avoid bright colors, low-cut tops and skirts that fall above the knee. Make sure your hair is neat, limit makeup to neutral colors and avoid applying too much perfume or scented lotion. Regardless of gender or profession, wearing a suit jacket is a must! Even if it is summer or hot, arrive wearing a jacket and remove the jacket when seated. For men, a tie is a necessity. Make sure it is professional, matches the rest of the outfit and is not flashy in color. As for socks, the best rule is to try to match your sock color with your pants.

Dressing for an interview may require you to go shopping for appropriate business attire. Shopping does not have to be expensive, especially on a college student’s budget. Before shopping, look at your current wardrobe. You might already have a nice pair of black pants and only need to purchase a matching jacket. When shopping, also consider choosing items that can be worn with many different looks. Choosing a dark, solid colored pant and matching jacket can easily be used in different outfits by varying the shirt. Many stores offer student discounts with your student ID, such as The Limited, Charlotte Russe, JCrew, and Banana Republic. Ask a store associate about discounts and deals. Stores like Ross, Kohl’s, Marshalls or department stores often have reasonably priced professional clothing. If money is an issue, consider borrowing an outfit from a similarly sized friend.

Make sure you have your interview attire selected several days in advance. Try it on, making sure everything fits properly. On the morning of the interview, watch the weather forecast and bring a jacket or umbrella if necessary. When at the interview, take note of how others dress to gauge the typical workplace attire for that specific company. This allows you to have a better idea of how to dress if you are offered the position. Contact with any further questions regarding professional dress. Remember, the outfit you choose is just as important in representing you as a professional as the information on your resume.