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How to Dress for an Interview

You’ve done everything for the upcoming job interview; composed a winning resume, gotten past the telephone interview screening. Now, the big moment you have waited for, particularly your in-person interview but you failed to put much thought and preparation into making a great first impression. Unfortunately, you arrive in a wrinkled suit, with chipped nail polish, you didn’t make a hair appointment so it’s flat from the humidity outside, and you’re sweating bullets for being late because you didn’t map out your route. You wish you could turn back the hands of time. You blew your chance to make a great first impression.

This unfortunate situation happens all too often when job seekers put all their efforts into getting the interview but fail to seal the deal by not dressing for success. As the old adage says, you only get one chance to make a great first impression. It warrants as much thought and preparation as any initial contact with a potential employer. Once you walk into an interview, you are being judged based on what you’re wearing, how you look, your demeanor, and personality.

One rule of thumb is to always dress in professional attire, even if the office environment is casual. A man interviewing for a job who takes the time to dress in a suit and tie makes a greater first impression than one who comes in jeans and a t-shirt. Consider calling the office secretary before your interview to determine the office dress code. This is important when interviewing at construction sites, for example, or where a suit and tie might be scuffed or damaged. Adjust accordingly. Dressing in professional attire for an interview increases your chance of sealing the deal.

Men who dress for success:

  • Choose a solid color such as navy or dark grey suit
  • Wear long sleeves, white or another matching color
  • Don’t forget the belt and tie!
  • Only wear dark colored socks and conservative-style shoes
  • Ensure you’re neat
  • If you wear aftershave, do so modestly
  • Make sure your nails are neat and clean
  • Carry any necessary papers in a briefcase, portfolio, or file folder

Women who dress for success:

  • Wear a dark-colored (black, gray, etc.) skirt suit. Make sure it is an appropriate length for sitting.
  • Coordinate a nice blouse and conservative shoes. Refrain from popular styles such as stilettos.
  • Make sure any jewelry is limited and in good taste. Refrain from wearing bangles, nose rings, multiple earrings, or exposing tattoos.
  • Style your hair in a professional style and wear neutral hose.
  • Make sure any fragrance you wear is lightly applied and make up is day-time wear (natural look)
  • Refrain from loud nail polish but ensure they are neatly manicured
  • Carry paperwork in an attaché case, briefcase, or a neat folder
  • Leave things such as your cell phone, iPod, sodas, coffee, and other drinks in your vehicle. It is a good idea to drive to the location a day or two before if you are unfamiliar with the area. Allow yourself enough time to arrive early. Keep breath mints, ensure your glasses are clean, prepare your clothes the day before, and remember to get a good night’s rest. It is your first opportunity to make a lasting impression during your job interview.