Dressing for a Job Interview

This entry was posted on November 9, 2009 under Rules, Situational Dressing. Written by:



The major purpose of an initial job interview is to convince a prospective employer of two things: that you have the skills required to successfully perform the job; and that you will fit into the existing organizational culture. Here is some straightforward advice on how to dress for the all-important interview.

Unless you are interviewing for a position where artistic flair is an important element, you should dress as conservatively as possible. Dressing in this manner, will both demonstrate respect for your prospective employer and that you are serious about your professional appearance.

Wear a suit to the interview. No matter how the interviewer is attired, you will make a good impression in a navy or charcoal single-breasted suit. Wear a solid color or a pinstripe, and stick with a two or three button model. Trouser bottoms can be cuffed or straight, with a cuffed bottom as the more conservative choice.

Always wear a long sleeve, 100% cotton white dress shirt to the first interview. We suggest a straight collar or a spread collar. These two models are more formal than a buttondown collar. You should also always wear a plain white undershirt under your dress shirt. This will prevent perspiration from reaching your dress shirt, especially important if you are invited to remove your suit jacket during the interview.

If you have not purchased a new tie in some time, we suggest that you do so for the interview. Choose a fairly conservative (but not necessarily boring) pattern, such as a Repp stripe, a pin dot or a small geometric pattern. Wearing up to date neckwear will demonstrate an ability to dress well and that you have a sense of what looks good in the workplace.

Make sure that you select appropriate¬†shoes for the job interview. We recommend a traditional lace-up leather shoe, such as a wing tip or a cap toe model. If you have access to a professional shoeshine, make the investment and get one right before the interview. If not, carefully shine your shoes the evening before. You can’t go wrong with a black leather shoe. It is the safest bet for the initial interview. Your sock color should match your suit trousers, although wearing a black sock with a black shoe is also fine. Wear over-the-calf socks, which will eliminate the risk of “showing some leg” if your trousers should happen to rise up while you are sitting down. Finally, your belt color should always match your shoes.

Keep jewelry to a minimum. A wedding ring and an understated dress watch are fine. Skip the cologne. You don’t want to take the chance of wearing a scent the interviewer does not care for. In addition, bring a handkerchief with you for potential sweaty palms or sneezes.

Finally, when you reach the prospective employer’s office (several minutes early of course), ask to use the washroom to perform a final check on your appearance. When you look in the mirror, you will see a professional businessman with that special air of confidence.



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2 Comments to “Dressing for a Job Interview”

  1. Mike says:

    Is a french cuff/cuff link look be too much for an interview?

  2. LauraF says:

    Great question, Mike!

    We feel that it is perfectly acceptable to wear cufflinks to an interview. However, we suggest wearing cufflinks that do not attract too much attention.

    If you have any other questions, please let us know.

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