Let's Talk About Your First Impression

The first impression you make on a potential employer is the most important one. A large part of the first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. That's why it's always important to think carefully and dress appropriately for each and every job interview you accept.

At JobGiraffe, we ask every client we represent about their office atmosphere and dress code, and we share that specific information with the job seekers who have been selected for client interviews. But here are some general guidelines you can use in any interview situation:

What’s the right way to dress for an interview? Let’s break it down...

Step One: Do Your Research

Have you researched the company where you are about to interview? Certain industries or types of business require specific dress. For example:

Conservative or Business Professional

Law firms, banks and other financial firms, investment firms, corporate offices, insurance agencies, consulting firms, etc., all expect the following modes of dress:

Conservative business suits, or dresses, plain hose, well cared for shoes (black scuffmarks on bone shoes is not attractive), low-key make up, jewelry, and perfume or after shave. Less is better than more.

Here are some tips to make your best impression:

Women's Interview Attire: Conservative
  • 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
  • Neutral pantyhose
  • Light make-up and perfume
  • Neatly manicured clean nails
  • Portfolio or briefcase
Men's Interview Attire: Conservative
  • 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
Moderate or Business Casual

Creative companies, advertising agencies, marketing and design firms, and sales offices, generally have a looser dress code, which can include the following:

Men – clean button down shirt and non-jeans pants, such as khakis or Dockers. A sport coat is fine.

Women – skirt (not too short) and blouse, or slacks and blouse. Hose optional.

Truly Casual

Learn as much as you can about the company where you will interview, but typical types of companies having a casual dress code are manufacturing on site, distribution on site, and smaller family-owned service or retail companies. In these companies, you will have greater latitude in appearance and the following may be considered appropriate:

  • Nice jeans or casual slacks
  • Tops for women, but nothing too bare or clubby
  • Polo shirts for men, or nice quality solid color t-shirt covered with over-shirt
  • Reasonable shoes or sandals. Hose or socks not necessary.
Most important

No matter how well you are dressed, you will be judged on your firm handshake, your smile, a pleasant demeanor, your energy and good eye contact.

What Not to Bring to the Interview
under any circumstances
  • Gum
  • Cell phone (leave it in your car, or at least make completely sure to turn it off)
  • iPod or other electronic devices
  • Your own coffee or soda (do NOT put your Big Gulp down on the interview table)
  • Your mom
  • Your pets
  • Your friends or anyone even if they drove you to the interview. Make them go away and call them from the corner of the block to pick you up after the interview.
Two more important tips on dressing for your interview
  • Before you even think about going on an interview, make sure you have appropriate interview attire and everything fits correctly. If not, borrow or buy.
  • Get your complete outfit ready the night before, so you don't have to spend time getting them ready on the day of the interview – or realize at the last minute that you don’t have a belt.

JobGiraffe – Reach Higher®