Dressing for the Interview

Business Professional for Men:

  • The suit color should be a dark navy or gray.
  • The dress shirt should be white or light blue with a tab or spread collar.
  • The tie should be darker than the shirt. Solid colors (navy, red, burgundy, and wine) are the most useful. Polka dots (light dots on a dark background) are the most sophisticated and dressy. Foulards (light patterns on a dark background) are the most acceptable. Striped and club ties are the most traditional. Paisleys are the best way to brighten up a too-dull combination.
  • If worn at all, a silk pocket square should coordinate with (but not match) the tie.
  • Wear black shoes with navy or gray suits.
  • Wear socks that match the color of your suit. Business socks should be a dark, solid color, and always calf-length. No man can be well dressed with skin showing above his socks.
  • The belt should be the same color as the shoes.

Other Rules

  • The most sophisticated look is simple. Avoid fad clothes for business wear.
  • Only one part of an outfit should stand out, with no more than one item that is bright, shiny, or particularly noticeable.
  • Natural fibers have a “successful” look. Avoid synthetics with a polyester look.
  • The best look is conservative. Large, flashy rings, cufflinks, or other jewelry are inappropriate.
  • Use a full-length mirror and good lighting.

Business Professional for Women:

  • The suit color should be black, dark gray or navy blue.
  • A tailored blouse is recommended.
  • Wear basic pumps that match or are darker than your skirt or suit.
  • A suit always demands hosiery in a professional setting.
  • The most successful look is conservative. The “rules” of fashion change quickly—don’t be trendy.
  • At all costs, avoid evening or social attire for interviews.
  • Use a full-length mirror and good lighting.
  • Accessories, jewelry and makeup should be kept simple.
  • Strappy shoes, skirts that are too short and low cut or sheer blouses are not appropriate.

Business Casual:

While business casual dress has been the norm in high-tech companies for some time, this trend is now catching on in the rest of corporate America. The term “business casual” is broad and subject to many interpretations. The challenge lies in finding the middle ground between “stuffy” and “sloppy.” There is a difference between “casual” and “business casual.” Keep in mind that no matter what you wear, you are conducting business.

Generally, business casual dress means no jeans or sneakers. For men, khakis, trousers, or suit pants could be paired with a knit shirt, a sport shirt, or a collared, long-sleeved shirt that does not demand a tie. With a leather belt, hard-soled shoes, and socks, these combinations are well within the range of appropriate business casual dress.

Women have more options—for example, a short skirt, long skirt, classic trousers, khakis, dress pants, and pantsuits. Other choices include a coordinated outfit, tailored jacket, or sweater set. Women should wear hard-soled shoes with closed toes and closed heels.

Many offices have adopted detailed business casual dress code policies. When in doubt as to what is appropriate, simply ask. Err on the side of caution; dress up rather than dress down. As always, good grooming is important in business casual.

Double Check:

Before you leave for work or a professional engagement, examine in a full-length mirror the overall picture you present and the details from head to toe. Make the necessary changes, add or remove accessories and be sure your appearance and grooming are impeccable. This daily exercise will take just a few minutes but the confidence of being well dressed will be worth it. Make sure you've got it all under control by using our Professional Dress Checklists for Men and Women. If you can check all the points, you are ready to face the world!