Dressing for an interview or employer event can be a make or break experience when it comes to your job or internship search. It is critical to wear appropriate interview attire to demonstrate your image as a person who respects both the employer and the interview process.
Proper grooming and professional appearance are important to gain not just a positive impression but also respect in the workplace. First impressions matter and the way you look and carry yourself create an impact on people you get along within the work setting. Proper grooming and professional appearance are important to both men and women. Lack of these may lead to poor image and may interfere with your chance of getting a good impression and positive feedbacks from your workmates and superiors.
So, perfume or cologne should be used sparingly or not at all. Be sure you don’t smell like smoke, either. Males should make sure that hair and facial hair are well-groomed and nails are clean. Females should pull hair back if it is distracting to you or others. Apply minimal/subtle makeup. Use conservative or clear nail polish and make sure fingernails not excessively long.
Attire Guidelines for Males
- Shirt: White dress shirt (i.e. collared, button up).
- Tie: Conservative color/design. The bottom of your tie should reach your belt buckle.
- Suit: Charcoal or navy with minimal pattern (nailhead, small pinstripes, herringbone, very low-contrast glen plaid, etc.) Choose either a single-breasted 2 or 3- button suit.
- Belt: Leather matching shoes and an understated buckle.
- Socks: Should be color-coordinated with your suit and shoes. Try over-the-calf dress socks.
- Shoes: Wing tips, loafers, or lace-ups. Black leather with navy or charcoal suit; darker brown leather with a navy suit.
- Accessories: Carry a small briefcase or padfolio to hold copies of resume, references, etc. Keep contents of trouser pockets to a minimum.
- Jewelry: No more than one ring. No earrings.
- Shirt/Jacket: White or light blue solid, or conservative stripes is your safest bet. Polo shirts (tucked in) or sweaters are acceptable in more casual situations. Blazer or sports coat can replace a suit jacket.
- Bottoms: Khaki or dark pants, neatly pressed.
- Socks: Dark socks, mid-calf length so no skin is visible when you sit down.
- Shoes: Leather shoes. No sandals, athletic shoes or hiking boots.
- Accessories: A leather belt that matches leather shoes. Ties are generally not necessary (but can be removed).
Attire Guidelines for Females
- Shirt: Collared shirt or basic shell in understated colours.
- Suit: Gray, navy, and black in almost any style are appropriate. No short skirts (no more than two inches above the knee when sitting). Pants suits may be appropriate for some industries.
- Hose: Neutral coloured hose. No runs (carry an extra pair with you).
- Shoes: No high heels. Low pumps are preferable.
- Accessories: Purse should be small, simple, and ideally match briefcase, padfolio, and/or shoes. Carry a padfolio to hold copies of resume, references, etc.
- Jewellery: No more than one ring on each hand. No dangle bracelets. Simple earrings (diamond, gold, silver or pearl stud).
- Top: Tailored shirts, blouses or sweaters/sweater sets. A blazer can replace the suit jacket. Fit should not be tight or low-cut.
- Bottoms: Skirts or pants, but neither should be tight. Colours should generally be solid (navy, black, gray, brown or khaki). No short skirts (no more than two inches above the knee when sitting).
- Hose: Not essential, but recommended if wearing a skirt.
- Shoes: Should be leather or fabric in black, navy, brown, tan, taupe (to coordinate with your other attire and accessories). No sandals, platforms, or chunky heels.
- Accessories: Purse should be small and structured and colours coordinate with your shoes. Leather, microfiber and fine woven are appropriate. No casual canvas and straw bags.
Professional/Interview Attire for the Creative Industries (advertising, fashion, design)
For those of you that are interviewing in a creative industry, interview attire expectations are slightly different than more conservative industries. Dress fairly formally to portray professionalism, but pick and choose where you can bring in creative touches to your outfit (i.e. colour, texture, accessories). Examples include a tailored blazer with trouser pants or pencil skirt, bright blouse or tie, coloured shoes or bag. It’s important to know the style of the company you’re interviewing with. For example, if it is a fashion designer, you’ll want to know their line and what their brand represents. Don’t wear their brand head to toe, but bring in small touches to show you understand their style.
Even if you know that employees at an organisation where you are interviewing dress casually on the job, you should dress up for the interview unless told otherwise by the employer. Take note that dressing up for an interview or employer/business event is not the same as dressing up for a social event. Don’t dress for a party or date.
And of course, let me know if you have any questions here or in the comments below!