How to Dress for Success

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Obviously, it’s imperative to look and feel your best on interview days! According to College Atlas, 65% of hiring managers note that clothes can be a deciding factor between two candidates. Yes, it’s a big deal, but we’ve got you covered.

Build your basics

Even if you’ve held prior internship positions, making the workwear transition from your college wardrobe can feel…strange. While you don’t have to say a permanent goodbye to your beloved athleisure, start keeping an eye out for suitable interview attire. The key is to start with a neutral foundation — think collared shirts, simple blouses, blazers, a nice pair of shoes and well-fitting pants and/or skirts.

Learn the lingo

Do the words ‘business formal’ and ‘business casual’ somehow seem more complicated than your 300-level mathematics course? Here are a few tips:
  • Business formal is popular in large corporations, government agencies or more conservative companies. For women, this requires pairing a solid-colored blouse, suit jacket, dark tailored pants or skirt (don’t go shorter than just above the knee) with dress shoes—flats or sensible heels. For men, wear a button-down shirt, tie, suit jacket and matching pants with nice shoes — think leather oxfords or loafers.
  • Business casual is obviously a bit more relaxed—no tie required. In this setting, both men and women have more freedom with bolder colors, prints and layering. Women may wear dresses, sweaters, cardigans, chinos, dark jeans and boots or dressy sandals in addition to their business formal attire. Men may wear sweaters, cardigans, polos, khakis, slacks, dark jeans and non-leather loafers if they wish.
Pro tip: When in doubt, err on the business formal side.

Know the “do not” list

Dressing for an interview is pretty straightforward: wear clean, polished clothes and look your best. This does not include:

  • Your college backpack. Time to swap this out for a messenger bag or briefcase.
  • Wrinkles. Save yourself a headache and a trip to the dry cleaner. Buy a small clothes steamer.
  • Stains. This is a no-brainer, but accidents do happen. Avoid eating or drinking in your interview clothes.
  • Jeans. Even if the interviewing office is more casual, this right is usually earned after you get hired.
  • Gum. Pop in a mint and keep a water on hand if you’re prone to nervous dry mouth.

Dress up, not down

Getting to know the company culture is a non-negotiable part of your interview prep, but that doesn’t mean you need to wear jeans if you know people wear jeans in the office. A formal, polished look is always appreciated and will show your sincerity and professionalism. When in doubt, dress up instead of down.

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Additional Career Resources

How to Dress for Success

How to Prepare for an Interview

You Received a Job Offer … Now What?

Questions to Ask During Job Interviews

After an Interview: Follow Up Best Practices

Conquering Job Applications

Crafting a Standout Cover Letter

Six Things You Should Do Before Starting Your Job Search

Writing Your Best Resume

Your Job Search: Strategies for Success

Developing Your Professional Network

How to Tell Your Story

How to Use LinkedIn Like a Pro

How to Conquer Career Fairs

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