Professional Development: Dressing the Part

Ready for that first internship or job interview? To get the job, you’re going to need to look the part. Staffer Kristen Wright provides some suggestions on what to wear in order to make the best first impression.

Interviewing for a job or internship is often a very stressful process, but deciding on what to wear doesn’t need to be the hardest component. In fact, there are a few easy things that you can do to ensure that you not only act the part but also look the part.

In general, when dressing for a job interview, attire for both men and women should be professional, wrinkle free, and relatively simple.  Always dress one step up from what the office protocol calls for (if the office is business casual, wear business professional attire to the interview).  A pop of color through a blouse, dress shirt, tie, or necklace is appropriate, but your goal should be to make a good first impression through your professional appearance – not to try to make a fashion statement!

Women: We strongly encourage you to purchase at least one suit in a neutral color to keep in your closet for job interviews.  A cardigan or blouse is nice, but a jacket adds a professional and polished quality to the outfit that is sure to impress the interviewer.

Tip: To make your investment in a suit go further, purchase both the matching pants and skirt in a color like charcoal gray that works well in both winter and summer.  If you don’t own a suit or aren’t ready to own a suit, make sure to keep a professional looking jacket (or two) in your closet that will be ready for all seasons. 

When considering jewelry and accessories, it’s great to add a little something extra to the outfit and show off your personality, but again, keep it simple. The last thing you want is the interviewer paying more attention to the clanking of your bracelets than to you describing your skills and qualifications for the position. The same rule goes for shoes; consider a low to medium heel in a neutral color like black or brown.

Men: Owning a suit, or in fact a few suits, is a must in the professional world. Fortunately, men’s suits remain a pretty consistent and classic style and therefore purchasing a suit can be a considered a long-term investment. In order to break up the monotony of wearing a suit everyday, consider different colors like gray, tan, navy blue, or even a pinstripe to add some individuality to the look. 

Tip: Many men’s clothing stores have semi-annual suit sales, do some online research and keep an eye out for these so that you can stock up while the price is right!

While ties are also a great way to make the look your own, a job interview is not the time to show off your favorite sports team or cartoon character.  A bright tie or pattern is certainly acceptable, but consider remaining relatively neutral or simple during the interview. You want them to remember you as the guy who is a strong communicator and efficient team leader, and not the one who came in wearing a crazy tie.

 While a professional and appropriate ensemble won’t land you the job, it may just help give you the confidence to nail that interview!

One thought on “Professional Development: Dressing the Part

  1. Pingback: Professional Development: Business Etiquette for Interns « District GPS

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