Center for Experiential Learning and Career Services

What to Wear - General Tips

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, grooming and appropriate interview attire are a must.  Employers were given a list of appearance-related attributes and asked to indicate the level of influence each would have on their opinion of a candidate's suitability for employment within their organization.

Grooming    70% strong influence
Nontraditional interview attire    49% strong influence
Nontraditional hair color    41% slight influence
Body Piercing    43% slight influence
Handshake    44% slight influence
Obvious tattoos    48% slight influence
Unusual hairstyle    45 slight influence
Earring (male)    49% no influence
Beard    78% no influence
Mustache    88% no influence

These are overall tips from our employers:

Individuals conducting interviews with college students are older and probably more conservative than they are.  Even if you want to be on the cutting edge of fashion, and interview may not be the right forum to display that.  Once hired, and office protocol tolerates it, is the time to bring in the trendy clothes.

A suit is more acceptable than any other dress.  It is better to be dressed up more than needed than casual for an interview.  Basically you want the interviewer to remember you dressed professionally and appropriately and not distracted by the color, fit or selection of apparel or jewelry.  Select shoes that cover your feet, watch the length of pants, skirts, and jacket sleeves.  Be sure clothing fits well, not too tight/loose, short/long, or revealing as well as comfortable when standing, walking, and sitting.  Tuck in shirts and blouses.  Button jackets until sitting down.  Be sure your accessories match your outfit.

When you first meet someone you are sizing them up in about 60 seconds time.  You scan them from top to bottom and form an opinion of that person.

So, what do you wear?

Men and Women

A conservative, two-piece business suit is best.
Wear the best quality clothing you can afford.
Wear clean, polished shoes.
Don’t forget about neatly trimmed fingernails.
Little or no fragrance is best.
Hair should be clean and well-groomed

Hints for Men:

Hints for Women:

Suits can be shades of blue, black or gray.

Conservative suit with a jacket or a tailored dress.

Choose a white or striped shirt with a conservative tie, preferably silk.

Natural hose with no runs!

Wear dark, over the calf length socks.

Classic pumps with closed toes and a heel height of no more than 1 1/2 inches.

Shoes should be black or cordovan leather

Select a few pieces of tasteful jewelry to accent your outfit.

Beware of too much after shave or cologne.

Nooversized handbags.


Ifpainted, nails should be neutral in color and make-up should be kept to a conservative minimum.

Last Updated: 6/9/16