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 interviewer's initial reaction to you will be based on your overall appearance and presentation, and that includes what you are wearing. It is very important to think carefully and dress appropriately for each and every job interview you go on.

At JobGiraffe, we ask every client we represent about their office atmosphere and dress code, and then we share that specific information with our candidates.

Without that information, here are some general guidelines you can use in any interview situation:

What’s the right way to dress for an interview? Here are some tips to make your best impression!

Giraffe Tips

Do your research!

Have you researched the company where you are about to interview? Have you spent time on their website?  Can you draw a conclusion about their dress code based on the type of job or the firm's industry?  Certain types of jobs and industries frequently require specific dress.

Giraffe Tips

Conservative or Business Professional?

Law firms, banks, financial service firms, investment firms, corporate offices, consulting firms, management positions, positions with heavy public contact such as a Corporate Receptionist, etc., frequently expect the following modes of dress:

Women's Interview Attire: Conservative
  • Suit (the jacket and skirt or slacks are of the same fabric) with a coordinated blouse
  • One or two piece dress
  • Top (no jacket) with coordinated pants or skirt
  • Any skirt or dress should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably
  • Conservative, well cared-for shoes
  • Limited jewelry (no jewelry is better than too much jewelry)
  • Neat, pulled-back, serious hairstyle
  • Neutral pantyhose or well-cared for bare legs
  • Light make-up and light perfume
  • Manicured or neatly trimmed, clean nails
  • Portfolio or briefcase
Men's Interview Attire: Conservative
  • Suit (the jacket and slacks are of the same fabric)
  • Coordinated sport coat and slacks
  • Long sleeve shirt (white or coordinated with the suit)
  • Tie
  • Belt
  • Coordinated socks
  • Conservative, well cared-for shoes
  • Little or no jewelry
  • Neat, professional hairstyle
  • Light aftershave
  • Neatly trimmed nails
  • Portfolio or briefcase

Giraffe Tips

Business Casual?

Creative companies, advertising agencies, marketing and design firms, sales offices, insurance or real estate offices, departmental or general office staff generally have a looser dress code, which can include the following:

Women's Interview Attire:  Business Casual

  • Slacks and a top
  • Skirt (not too short) and top
  • NO jeans, although they may be OK to wear once on the job
  • NO tee shirts, although they may be OK to wear once on the job
  • NO leggings or athletic wear
  • Hose optional
  • Shoes can be more fun or casual, but make sure they are well cared for
  • Jewelry can be in line with your personal style
  • Hair can be in line with your personal style
  • Make up in line with your personal style
  • Perfume - always in moderation

Men's Interview Attire:  Business Casual

  • Slacks and shirt - long or short sleeved
  • Khakis and a shirt - long or short sleeved
  • Sport coat optional
  • Tie optional (wear it and you can take it off in the waiting room!)
  • NO jeans, although they may be OK to wear once on the job
  • NO tee shirts, although they may be OK to wear once on the job
  • NO athletic wear 
  • Socks
  • Shoes can be more fun or casual, but make sure they are well cared for
  • Jewelry can be in line with your personal style
  • Hair can be in line with your personal style
  • Cologne or aftershave - always in moderation

Giraffe Tips

Truly Casual? 

Companies with a casual dress code usually have manufacturing on site, distribution on site, are smaller companies, smaller offices and/or family-owned businesses.  The following dress will be appropriate even for the interview:

Women or Men: Casual

  • Casual pants or NICE jeans
  • For Women - Nice shirt or top with pants or a skirt, but nothing too short or bare
  • For Men - Polo shirts or a solid color tee shirt covered with a casual over-shirt and pants
  • Reasonable shoes or sandals. Hose or socks not necessary.

Giraffe Tips

What NOT to bring inside the building/office of your interview?
  • Gum or candy (don't THINK you can hide it in your mouth!)
  • A cell phone that is in the "ring or vibrate" position (leave it in your bag or briefcase but make 100% sure it is on airplane mode or silent!)
  • A tablet, iPod or other electronic device (unless the interview specifies you bring digital examples of your work)
  • Your own coffee or soda (do NOT place your Starbucks Venti or 7/11 Big Gulp on the interviewer's table)
  • Any companion (your mom - yes, it has happened!, your significant other, your friend or your pet - unless you require a service animal)

Giraffe Tips

Two final tips on preparing for your interview...
  • Make sure you select and lay out your clothing THE NIGHT BEFORE to be sure you have an appropriate outfit AND that everything fits correctly. If not, borrow or buy.
  • Also, lay out all your accessories (shoes, socks, belt, scarf) and items to bring with (resumes, cover letter, references, portfolio, address/directions) so you will not be running around at the last minute looking for a belt or printing something as your leave for your interview – you might arrive late or become frazzled.

Giraffe Tips

What's the most important thing to bring? 

In addition to being dressed appropriately, be sure to bring YOU!  Try to leave your jitters at the door (with your gum!) and be at your best and "in the moment".  You will be judged on many other points such as a firm handshake, an easy smile, a pleasant demeanor, your positive energy and your ability to make eye contact!

Good luck!

JobGiraffe – Reach Higher®