Everyone wants to dress for success during their job interview. Whether you’re going for your first job interview or your you’re a seasoned job interview veteran –  at times it can be difficult to identify what is the appropriate attire to make a great first impression at the workplace you’re hoping to join. Here’s a great general rule-of-thumb to defer to: when in doubt, settle on a business professional outfit. 

Today’s workforce is incredibly mixed. With 6 different generations of employees potentially working together under one roof, standards for professionalism – in terms of behavior and attire – can vary pretty drastically depending on industry and company culture. During that initial phone interview, the hiring manager may let you know that the dress code for the job interview – and within the organization – is business casual; while this can be comforting for some to hear – as not everyone feels comfortable in business professional attired or maybe they don’t have any professional dress in their current wardrobe – business casual attire is relative to what standards have been set within the organization. For example, in your prior internship or place of work, business casual may have just meant a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops. To some, this wouldn’t be considered business casual attire at all and might instead be considered casual dress. This level of interpretation is super important to keep in mind – even when your potential future-employer advises you to ditch the professional look and go for a more casual dress code.

This is why our ExamMatrix Experts advise prospective employees to always defer to business professional attire. 

Business attire can include:

  • A button-down shirt or dress shirt: Preferably a solid color – perhaps on the more muted or pastel side rather than a bright color.
    • If you do decide to go for a more business casual look, go for a polo shirt or collared shirt to keep your look put together.
  • Dress pants: Make sure they’re not too long or not too short. whether you’re wearing a pant suit or slacks paired with a button-up, make sure those pants are tailored or fitted to your height.
  • Business suits: From a skirt suit, to a two-piece suit, to a three-piece suit – whatever piece suit you decide to go for will undoubtedly meet all the marks for adhering to a business professional dress code. To the point above just make sure your suit is tailored – AND clean!
    • If you’re planning on wearing a skirt suit, a pencil skirt is totally acceptable – just make sure your skirt is a least knee-length.
    • If you have a pocket on your suit jacket, a pocket square is always a nice touch!
  •  Dress shoes:  If you choose to wear heels, make sure you can walk in them! Flat shoes are acceptable, as well.
    • Always – make sure your shoes are clean or shined!

Do you have any outfit tips that worked for you?

Let us know in the comments!

Shirley Koss: Hey everyone! This is Shirley and today I’m going to talk to you about dressing for success. Including topics such as your clothing choice, your shoes, socks and accessories, and finally just some overall best practices to help you ace that interview or score a fantastic client meeting.

So, first things first, dressing for success. Opt for a professional look at all costs. So, what that means is wear that professional grey, navy blue, or black very well-tailored suit. Nothing too tight, nothing too loose. So, if you have to go for tailoring – it’s definitely worth it. Also, make sure that your suit is wrinkle-free and pressed freshly.

From here, you’ll want to think about wearing a nice top or button-down shirt. Make sure that your shirt is nicely closed — that the buttons all close well and aren’t revealing anything personal — or that your top is conservative, not too low cut, and has a plain more subtle print.

Now, if you’re going to wear a tie go for a tie that’s going to pull the entire look together. Again, nothing too flashy, but something that’s more subtle and conservative that says, “I’m really trustworthy.”

Moving down to your socks, hosiery, or shoes – go for conservative at all costs. So, a nice midcalf dress sock is always appropriate. No sports socks here. Also, for hosiery just consider something conservative and make sure that you never go into and interview, or professional meeting for that matter, with bare legs – always make sure that your legs are nicely covered. And when it comes to shoes, make sure your shoes are nicely polished, scuff free, closed-toe, and no more than two to three inches high. I can tell you, I’ve seen plenty of people in interviews with shoes on that did not look good. They’ve worn platforms, wore open-toed shoes, and it’s just not a professional look.

Now, transitioning into your actual appearance and hygiene. Pop a mint beforehand or make sure that your breath is absolutely suitable and not offensive. When it comes to scent – it’s everything. You don’t want to go for anything overpowering, so if you’re going to wear perfume or cologne, make sure that it’s more conservative and subtle.

Next, when it comes to makeup you want to make sure your makeup is accentuating your features but allowing your true beauty to come through. And when it comes to jewelry, consider being more conservative. So one earring per ear,  no weird piercings – now, of course, I have a nose ring. That’s more acceptable nowadays, but even so it’s very subtle. It’s nothing too flashy or overpowering. Same goes for all jewelry; make sure your necklaces, bracelets and rings are very conservative. And don’t wear more than one per neck or necklace or bracelet or rings; so, one ring per hand, one necklace, one bracelet per hand. Nothing jingle jangling that’s going to distract from your interview.

And finally – transitioning to the actual interview itself – you’ll want to make sure your hands are freshly washed and not too sweaty. Also, make sure that your fingernails are clean and if you do go for a nail polish make sure it’s a nice subtle color. Think Queen Elizabeth – a nice pale pink or a nice beige are always conservative and a great, professional look.

When you get into the actual interview, make sure you have a great padfolio ready to go that looks professional – not scuffed up or have writing all over it or something like that. Make sure you have a pad in there to take notes – I know it sounds silly, but we all forget sometimes. Make sure you have a pen, multiple copies of your resume, and be sure to ask your interviewer really good questions – thoughtful questions – about why they like working at the firm and other details on the actual role itself.

Do you have any tips for success that you want to share that helped you dress the part or ace that interview or client meeting?

Comment below and share with us.

Thanks again for watching and have a great day!


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