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Dress for Success

What you decide to wear to your interview is an important decision because you’re your packaging. It’s the first impression people have when meeting face to face, along with the image that will stay in their minds during following contacts, whether by e-mail, phone, or the mail (Sabath, 2005). Someone with a good appearance looks fresh, clean, and proud. For a job interview, dress in the clothes that you would wear on the job. Executives should wear business suits. White collar people should wear dress clothes. Workers should wear work clothes (Dahlstrom, 2004).

When you make the decision about what to wear, keep in mind that you want to look like you already work for the company (Asher, 2004). This might take a little research on your part, but it will be worth the extra effort. When checking on the company, consider dressing one or two notches above whatever the employees of that company wear on any given Monday (Asher, 2004). You want to dress in the clothes you would wear to work (Dahlstrom, 2004). Remember to dress for the position you want (Sabath, 2005).

Here’s what one manager had to say about clothing: “When I interview a maintenance man, I want to see a person who’s dressed like a maintenance man – someone in a clean, pressed gray uniform with work boots.” Plus, “There’s nothing more revolting than someone who’s not clean,” said one manager. “You would be amazed at the number of people who don’t shower, shave, wash their hair, wash their face, brush their teeth, or clean their fingernails. Some people are an automatic turnoff.” (Dahlstrom, 2004, p.34)

Below is a list compiled from various sources on the dos and don’ts of dressing for a job interview.

In General
• Press Your Clothing.
• Wear Shoes that are Well Maintained. Polishing your shoes signifies to employers that you pay attention to detail.
• Trim Your Nails.
• Avoid Excessive Jewelry. Women should not more than 5 pieces of jewelry including each earring counted as one. Men should have no more than a watch and a ring (if wedding band). Wear rings on ring fingers only.
• Body Piercing. Multiple piercings may be distracting for the interviewer. Also, don’t wear tongue jewelry since it might interfere when you speak.
• Check Your Clothes. Make sure there are no holes, tears, missing buttons, stains, or runs.
• Avoid Strong Cologne/Perfume.
• Wear a Simple Hairstyle. Make sure you schedule haircuts at regular intervals.
•.Avoid Trendy or Loud Fashions.
• Good Hygiene. This includes taking a shower, washing your hair, brushing your teeth, and using deodorant.
• Tattoos. Cover them for the first meeting or work for a company that embraces them.

• Makeup: Should be Subtle.
• No Bright Colored Clothing.
• Nails: Should manicured and not excessively long. Nail polish should be clear or complement your skin tone.
• Blouses: The best selection involves solid colors and natural fabrics.
• Skirts: Should touch your knees or below.
• Hose: Always wear hose. Make sure there are no runs. They should be nude to the color of your skin and never white. Make sure they are the color of your hemline or lighter.
• Shoes: Never wear open-toed shoes. Leather pumps are the most preferable. Make sure they are the color of your hemline or lighter.
• Purses: Should match your shoes and not too large. If you bring a portfolio or briefcase to the interview, do not bring a purse.

• Hair: Should be short and neatly trimmed.
• Facial Hair: Facial hair is discouraged as it makes a negative statement for some people. If you have a beard or mustache, it should be conservative.
• Shirts: Always wear a white or pale shirt. The paler, more subtle the shirt - the more polished the look.
• Wear an Undershirt: It makes a white shirt look whiter and protects the dress shirt from perspiration.
• Slacks: Make sure your slacks are ironed and have a crease in them.
• Belts: Your belt should match your shoes.
• Socks: Make sure your socks cover you calves.

Reminders and Extra Tips for the Day of the Interview
• Get a Good Night’s Sleep
• Do Not Chew Gum or Smoke: If you do smoke, use mouthwash and be sure the smell is not evident in your clothes.
• Leave a Small Bottle of Mouthwash in your Car.
• Check Your Appearance: When you arrive, check your appearance in the bathroom, never in public. Your grooming should be done before you arrive for your appointment.
• Empty your Pockets: No bulges to ruin your profile.
• Walk and Sit With Good Posture
• Do Not Bite Your Fingernails.
• Bring Your Resume.
• Bring a New Notepad and a Pen that Works.
• Plan to Arrive 15 Minutes Before the Interview is Scheduled to Begin.
• Call the Manager if you are Going to be Late.
• Smile

Things to Avoid
• Strong Perfume/Cologne
• Excessive Jewelry and Tongue Jewelry
• For Women: Excessive Makeup
• Trendy Fashions
• Bright Colors, Loud Fashions, and Patterns that Clash
• Tears, Holes, Stains, and Wrinkles in your Clothes
• For Women: Open-Toed Shoes

The previous information came from the following sources:

Asher, Donald. How to get a Job With Any Major. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2004.

Dahlstrom, Harry. The Job Hunting Handbook. Holliston: Dahlstrom & Company, Inc., 2004.

Molloy, John T. New Dress for Success. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1988.

Sabath, Ann Marie. “Dressing For The Job.” Job Choices 49 (2006): 59-60.


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