University Career Center

Professional and interviewing attire can bring up a lot of questions from students about what is appropriate. Here are some tips to ease your worries around what to wear and help you feel more confident for your interview!

These tips are by Hannah Levenkron and Christine Short, co-founders of Suit and Sweet, a start-up that provides an affordable rental option to women for designer work wear.

As shallow as it may seem, there is no denying what a large role appearance plays when interviewing for jobs. Prospective employers will notice everything from your clothing to your manners and mannerisms within a matter of seconds, and you will be assessed on your ability to present yourself as the most qualified candidate. In a recent study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 73% of hiring managers surveyed said a prospective employee's grooming habits had a strong influence on their opinion of the job candidate, with interview attire having the second strongest influence with 49%. In a world where first impressions are everything, it's advised to put your best foot forward. Here are some guidelines for looking the part at your next interview.

1. Dress comfortably.  Now this doesn’t mean wearing your sweats to the interview, we understand business attire isn't always pleasant, but make sure you feel good in your outfit. It’s best to get used to what you’ll be wearing on interview day by assembling beforehand and observing how you appear in your outfit. If you’re uncomfortable, your interviewer will know it, and it will be reflected in your responses and overall demeanor.

2. When in doubt, err on the side of dressing more formally. With a plethora of acceptable professional wear these days, especially for women, it's difficult to know what the dress culture of a potential new work setting will be. Our advice is to always dress more formally thank you think is necessary. In most industries, wearing a blazer throughout the interview process is standard. It is respectful and shows that you are taking the interview seriously. With that said, if you think the job you are applying for would frown upon you wearing a suit, double check with professionals in the industry beforehand.

3. Fit is important. Not only will what you wear matter, but as will how it fits you. Make sure you’re clothing isn’t so tight that it looks inappropriate, or so loose that it looks sloppy. 

4. Be aware of your body language. Make sure your posture is in check on interview day; no slouching! You want to look engaged and interested. Your mannerisms will no doubt be noticed, so refrain from playing with your hair, tapping your foot, or employing any other nervous ticks you may have, it can be distracting and a sign that you aren't confident in what you bring to the table. 

5. Keep hair and make-up simple. No need to pull out that new coral lipstick for your interview, keep your face natural, the interviewer wants to see you. The same goes for hair, err on the side of conservative. A fresh blowout or pulled back style should suit. Of course, some creative jobs may want to see how you express yourself stylistically, know this is the case before going in for the interview and prepare accordingly.

6. Go light on the accessories. Similar to hair and make up, be sure your accessory choices are not a distraction when interviewing. This is not the time to model that new chunky bracelet; its great for the weekends, but may overpower your look in a professional setting. Stick with your everyday jewelry (if you're everyday jewelry is modest).

This list is by no means exhaustive, and of course different jobs dictate different styles. These rules are those that are generally adhered to, but it can also be helpful to check with someone (a professor, friend, sibling etc) who works or has worked in the industry in which your are applying for an interview, to get their perspective. The most important thing is to dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, your confidence will exude and that will be apparent in how you present yourself and answer questions. Good luck!