Dressing for success


ready-for-work-by-tammy-mcintyreIn addition to a warm smile, confidence, and good eye contact, here is some widely accepted information on how to dress for an interview, including advice on what, and what not, to wear on a job interview.



Professional and business interview attire

Your first impression on a potential employer is the most important one. The first judgement an interviewer makes is based on how you look and what you are wearing. That’s why it’s always important to dress appropriately for a job interview.


Men’s interview attire

  • Suit (solid color — navy or dark grey)
  • Long-sleeve shirt (white or coordinated with the suit)
  • Belt
  • Tie
  • Dark socks, conservative leather shoes
  • Little or no jewelry
  • Neat, professional hairstyle
  • Limit the aftershave
  • Neatly trimmed nails
  • Portfolio or briefcase


Women’s interview attire

  • Suit (navy, black or dark grey
  • The suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably
  • Coordinated blouse
  • Conservative shoes
  • Limited jewelry (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets)
  • No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry
  • Professional hairstyle
  • Clean, short fingernails
  • Little or no perfume


Business casual interview attire

Here is what to wear when dressing for an interview where you don’t need a suit or to work when the dress code is business casual. Your company’s objective in establishing a business casual dress code is to allow employees to work comfortably in the workplace. Yet, you still need to project a professional image for customers, potential employees, and community visitors.

Because all casual clothing is not suitable for the office, these guidelines will help you determine what is appropriate to wear to work. Clothing that works well for the beach, yard work, dance clubs, exercise sessions, and sports may not be appropriate at work.

Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, your back, your chest, your stomach or your underwear is not appropriate for a place of business, even in a business casual setting.

All clothing should be well-kept. Torn, dirty or frayed clothing is unacceptable. All seams must be finished. Any clothing that has words, terms, or pictures that may be offensive to other employees is unacceptable. Clothing that has the company logo is encouraged. Sports team, university, and fashion brand names on clothing are generally acceptable.


Internship interview attire

Internships are an important part of career development, and like any job, acing your interview is one part of getting the position you want. Making a great first impression — coming across as polished, professional and attentive — is important when it comes to your internship search.

If you’re interviewing for a professional position but you don’t think a full suit is required, a crisp white button-down and a sleek, solid tie is a great option. It looks dressy, professional and polished without appearing stuffy.

But, if you’re going to forego a jacket, take the extra effort to make sure your shirt is wrinkle-free, stain-free and otherwise pristine. A skirt, dress or slacks are appropriate for women. Don’t forget to pay close attention to shoe heel height. Wear a heel that is comfortable or wear flats.


Job interview hairstyles for women

There are lots of ways to style your hair for a job interview. While some options are stylish and others are more traditional, remember that your hairstyle should strike a balance between your wardrobe and your makeup.

Don’t feel limited to a basic, straight-down-your-back braid. Buns, a side braid, a braid of braids, to a French or a fishtail braid, there are a lot of options! You can certainly have some fun; just remember to keep it more low-key than distracting.


Look for regular “Ready for Work” columns on finding, keeping and succeeding in meaningful work. Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to mcintyre_tammy@rocketmail.com.