Professional Dress

* CollegeSuitingJCrew.pdf
Suit up for the Interview (a what-to-wear guide)

Part of a hiring decision is based on nonverbal elements in an interview – eye contact, body language, handshake, posture, listening skills, clothing, grooming and accessories. Will dressing properly get you the job? Of course not, but it will give you a competitive edge and a positive first impression.

In job-hunting, first impressions are critical. Remember, you are marketing a product -- yourself -- to a potential employer, and the first thing the employer sees when greeting you is your attire; so, you must make every effort to have the proper dress for the type of job you are seeking.

Dressing conservatively is always the safest route, but you should also try and do a little investigating of your prospective employer so that what you wear to the interview makes you look as though you fit in with the organization. If you overdress (which is rare but can happen) or underdress (the more likely scenario), the potential employer may feel that you don't care enough about the job. How do you find out what is the proper dress for a given job/company/industry? You can call the Human Resources office where you are interviewing and simply ask. Or, you could visit the company's office to retrieve an application or other company information and observe the attire current employees are wearing -- though make sure you are not there on a "casual day" and misinterpret the dress code. When in doubt where a conservative suit.

If you cannot afford two suits, investing in one good suit on a student’s budget is sufficient, until you actually land a job and can afford more. One suit paired with three or four different ties or scarves and shirts or blouses can yield a variety of different looks. When shopping, buy the best quality items you can afford.

Business Attire

Attention to details is crucial.

  • Select apparel, fragrances, jewelry, hairstyle, etc. that do not detract from your professional image. Less is more. Keep your look simple. The interviewer’s attention should be focused on what you say and your qualifications.
  • Clean and polished conservative dress shoes.
  • Well-groomed hairstyle, not hanging in the face.
  • Clean and neatly pressed attire. Apparel should fit well and remain in place while sitting and/or walking. Avoid pulling and tugging outfit. Have your suit altered to fit properly.
  • A full-length coat can be worn over your suit; avoid casual coats.
  • Cleaned and trimmed fingernails.
  • Minimal cologne or perfume – can cause allergic reaction or offend the interview. When in doubt, avoid cologne or perfume.
  • No visible body piercing beyond conservative ear piercing for women.
  • Well-brushed teeth and fresh breath.
  • No gum, candy, or other objects in your mouth.
  • Minimal jewelry.

The choice of what to wear is yours – but the choice to hire you is the interviewers.
It is better to be conservatively over dressed than underdressed.
Give a firm handshake, make eye contact, be friendly, smile and speak up. Don’t fidget. A little small talk to start is fine, but do not ask personal questions.
Thank them for their time and consideration. Ask for a business card. Finally, check your attire in the rest room just before your interview for a final check of your appearance -- to make sure your tie is straight, your hair is combed, etc.

For Women:

The standard job interviewing attire for women:

  • Conservative dark navy or gray wool blend suit, skirted or pants.
  • Pants should be creased and tailored, not tight or flowing.
  • Conservative colors - such as beige or brown - are also acceptable.
  • Skirt length should be a little below the knee and never shorter than above the knee. It should cover your thighs when seated.
  • Avoid wearing a dress.
  • Blouses should be cotton or silk and should be white, or some other light color.
  • Shoes should be low-heeled with closed toe. Avoid sling backs and stiletto extremes.
  • Make-up should be minimal, with lipstick and nail polish conservative tones.
  • Pantyhose should be flawless (no runs) and conservative in color.
  • Opt for a briefcase and/or portfolio rather than a purse.
  • Moderate amount of jewelry or accessories.

A general rule is to wear no more than 13 accessories, including scarf, belt, jewelry, buttons,, etc. There should be no more than one ring on each hand.

For Men:

The standard job interviewing attire for men:

  • Conservative, single breasted, dark navy black or gray two-piece business suit (of natural fibers, such as wool, if possible).
  • Leave the bottom button on a single-breasted jacket undone.
  • When wearing a single-breasted suit with more than two buttons, you may button all of the buttons – except the bottom button.
  • A white or solid blue long-sleeved button-down dress shirt professionally pressed,
  • Conservative silk tie (that matches the colors in your suit), and tied correctly - 
  • Nicely polished dress shoes, lace-up, not slip-on,dark or blend with the suit.
  • Leather belt that blends or matches your shoes.
  • Socks should be calf-length or above the calf and match the suit.
  • Short hair cut and no facial hair is expected.

Choose natural-fiber blends that do not hold in the perspiration and heat. Choose dark colors in brown, black or gray.

Minimize jewelry; avoid a necklace; wear no more than one ring per hand.

Business Casual

You will be attending a number of information sessions and dinner engagements where the interviewer might suggest business casual. What is business casual?

Some companies consider khaki pants and short-sleeved polo shirts as business casual. Other organizations require slacks or skirts and long-sleeved shirts when they refer to business casual. Some of the larger organizations might have this posted on their website for their employees with specific guidelines. The better name brand apparel stores also have samples of business casual on their websites.  Here are some general rules.

For Women:

  • Business skirt or pants.
  • Conservative blouse or sweater.
  • Blazer or vest.
  • Flat or low heels.
  • Neutral hosiery.
  • Belt, scarf, and accessories should remain conservative.

For Men:

  • Not expected to wear ties.
  • Business or sports jacket is appropriate.
  • Stylish, solid colored pants
  • Long-sleeved solid or striped dark shirt, tucked in neatly
  • Dark socks.
  • Matching belt and shoes