Interview Appearance

What to Wear

We provide this separate section to remind you that how you look at your interview is even more important than how you dress once you have the job.

Refer to our What to Wear at Work section for dozens of useful tips on how to dress and groom yourself so you’ll fit in at work.

Appropriate grooming and attire reinforce the image you want to project:  That you’re a person who is serious about the interview process and who understands the industry where you want to grow your career.

You have only a very few moments to make a first impression.  Don’t waste that invaluable opportunity.

Here’s one general rule to keep in mind.  It’s not hard and fast, but it’s a useful rule of thumb:  Look at the way people dress for everyday in the workplace.  Now improve on that a notch or two for your interview.  Always groom yourself more carefully, and dress better – more conservatively, more formally and with more care – for your interview than you would for a regular day at work.

While business casual attire for some interviews (e.g. technical consultant positions, etc.) might be just fine, you will never go wrong by dressing more professionally:

Clothing

Men

Women

Professional Good dress slacks (not khakis)
White or light color dress shirt
Plain or small design dark tie
Dark, plain, long socks
Well-shined dress shoes
Your recruiter will let you know if a jacket is also required
If a suit is required, keep it dark and conservative
Pant suit or skirt suit
White, color or small patterned blouse
Stockings and close-toe shoes
Carry a classic handbag; nothing flashy
Business Casual Slacks or khakis
Collared dress shirt or sport shirt
Polo shirts may be fine for more casual environments
Slacks or skirt and blouse
Dress as long as it’s not too casual
Open-toe shoes or sandals may be fine in warm areas, especially in summer

Take the utmost care with your personal hygiene and grooming

  • Shower and shampoo just prior to the interview if at all possible
  • Your hair should be recently cut in a conservative style
  • Use deodorant, especially in warm weather
  • Keep your use of perfume or scent to a minimum
  • Women’s makeup should be subtle, understated and natural looking
  • Minimize piercings if at all possible
    • Save the ornamentation of your nose, lips, tongue or eyebrows for some other time
  • If you have any distinctive or socially dubious tattoos, try to dress to conceal them
  • Watch your breath!!
    • Brush just before the interview
    • Bring a brush and toothpaste, floss and mouthwash or spray with you, if you’ll be at work or away from home just before the meeting
    • Carry breath mints and use one a few minutes before you meet with the interviewer.  However, have nothing in your mouth when you go in for a meeting.

What not to do

  • Don’t wear your everyday clothing. Doing so conveys the message that you don’t consider the interview, or the job, important
  • Don’t use a strong or unusual scent
  • Don’t try to assert your individuality.  Save that for later.  Today, just get the job

How do you handle a telephone interview?

Just about the same way, as a matter of fact.

You will speak and behave more professionally if you have made the effort to get cleaned up, dressed up and thoroughly prepared.

Don’t neglect this tip if you’ve got a phone interview coming up.

Again, be sure to review our What to Wear at Work section for more tips.