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Although some companies have relaxed their dress code for employees, many still expect a professional look in interviews for new hires. Why is how one dresses still important to companies and why should the interviewee consider it key as well? It is all about first impressions. If one looks serious and professional, one will be treated as such in the interview process and may be considered above than others who dress inappropriately.

Below are a few of the basics rules of dressing for business interviews that most recruiters will agree with.

  • Wear a two-piece suit, typically dark blue, grey, or black in color. For men this means a matching jacket and slacks. For women it usually is a jacket and matching skirt.
  • Under the suit, wear a white or pastel colored shirt or blouse.
  • With the suit, wear polished conservative shoes, typically in a dark color.
  • Individuals need to be sure to have well groomed hair, face, and fingernails. For men be sure to shave and women need to go light on the make up.
  • Additional considerations for men are to wear a tie and dark socks. Women should wear natural colored hose if wearing a skirt.
  • If wearing cologne, it should be a light fragrance. Often it is better not to wear cologne as you may interview in a small room and the smell could still be overpowering. Don't forget the deodorant though.
  • Be sure all pockets have been emptied to prevent jingling change and keys or fidgeting with items during the interview.
  • If you need to carry anything to the interview, carry it in a briefcase or portfolio rather than in a folder or purse.
  • During the interview, do not chew gum, eat candy, or smoke cigarettes. However, having a mint before the interview is recommended.
  • If a drink is offered, decline it unless the interview is expected to last several hours. Dinking can result in possible spills or a need to excuse oneself from the interview.

If everything listed above is not already in the interviewee's closet, buy a few quality pieces or borrow some items from friends and family. When dressing for the interview, also consider the industry as some may be stricter in suggested dress code than others. If unsure how to dress, don't be afraid to ask someone in Human Resources at the interviewing company about appropriate departmental or company dress before the day of the interview.

When going on a business interview, remember impressions count, so follow a conservative trend rather than going a fashion statement (unless the interview is with the fashion industry). The important thing to remember about dressing conservatively for an interview is to make the right impression with how questions are answered instead of the making the wrong impression with how one is dressed.


Shirley Fine Lee, author of "R.A!R.A! A Meeting Wizard's Approach", has worked as a training and development specialist since 1986, and an independent consultant since 2000. She has extensive experience, helping organizations with their team building, training development, meeting facilitation, presentation delivery, and other communication needs. This work involves developing productivity tools, presenting workshops, and writing. For instance, she has authored numerous training manuals and guides, on a wide variety of topics. Her programs include time management, getting organized, problem solving, and team building. Find out more about her and options she provides on her website.
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