The interview preparation process is hectic with researching the organization, preparing questions and learning more about the position. In addition to those tasks you also have to make sure that you have an appropriate outfit selected for the occasion. That first impression is critical!
When I meet with students that have an interview lined up I always ask “What will you be wearing?” I’m pleased to find that a majority of students give the correct answer of “Business Professional” but then I also follow up to ensure that students understand this type of attire.
The words “Business Professional” are thrown around a lot, so let’s break it down. For men or women this includes the following:
A two-piece matched suit is necessary. Stick with darker conservative colors like navy blue, black or charcoal. Choose a white, or light solid colored shirt, and for the guys go with a good quality silk tie. Avoid busy patterns.
For women, make sure to go with black closed-toe shoe, pumps are preferred. Men should have black or brown leather shoes that match your suit, Wingtips or Oxfords are best for business professional. Belts should always match your shoes!
Wear a nice conservative watch. For the ladies, stick with small stud earrings if you wear them and keep the makeup simple.
Remove all tags from clothing, be sure there are no strings hanging off your outfit, and all items should be clean and pressed. Don’t forget to remove the pleat stitches off of new items, these typically hold down vents on the jacket back, sleeves, and skirt back.
Hair and facial hair should be well groomed. If you have longer hair, it helps to have at least the front pulled back so it’s not your face and you are not tempted to play with it during the interview. Make sure your hands and fingernails are clean, and avoid perfumes and scented lotions.
If you are ever hesitant about your interview outfit, feel free to come and discuss the details with a career advisor. Hopefully you will also schedule a mock interview to prepare for the real thing, so wear your outfit into the office to make sure it’s appropriate. When in doubt, always go with the conservative option!