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Interview Wear: Job Interview Dressing

We've all heard the expression, "You only have one chance to make a good first impression." How true that is! One of the main purposes of an interview is to present yourself to a potential employer in a manner that reflects a highly polished and professional image. It is important to keep in mind that the interview is not the time to be making a personal statement about the way you dress. Your goal should be to demonstrate that you respect the interviewer's values, tastes, and expectations relative to dress and personal manner. Although professional dress and appropriate style may vary slightly depending on job type, work environment and geographical region, there are several key points to keep in mind:

For Men
A conservative business suit is almost always the rule. A well-tailored or fitted suit jacket  and trousers will go a long way in helping you present yourself professionally and confidently. For example: coat sleeve and trouser length should be such that the fit is neither too short nor too long. Appropriate size is critical not only for comfort, but also for presenting a "clean" fit, there is no room for sloppiness.

Acceptable colors continue to be darker shades and hues including grays, blues (navy), and black. Pattern designs such as pin stripes and plaids are acceptable as long as they are subtle.

A plain white or off-white shirt is always a winner. In most cases, either a loose or button-down collar (oxford cloth) is fine. Occasionally pastel shades (blue, pink, yellow, etc.) are acceptable, as is a pin-stripe design as long as the look is conservative and not flashy.

Neckties...again the word is conservative. Patterns should be uniform and subtle, whether stripes or small dots. Paisley designs are generally acceptable. Deep reds, maroon, blues, navy, grays and black are colors that blend well with dark suits, once again keeping in mind that slight variations may occur due to region and climate. Width should generally be about the same as your coat lapels.

Dressing in your best attire for the interview also means having your shoes shined, if not new. Wearing a new suit and tie with an old, dirty pair of shoes that need to be repaired would be like washing and waxing your car without scrubbing the tires and hubcaps. Laced shoes are the general rule; loafers are too casual, and sneakers and hush puppies should be reserved for Friday night barbecues. The color of your socks should complement or match the rest of your outfit. Argyle and see-through socks are not considered appropriate. Likewise, a leather belt that matches the color of your shoes and has a small buckle is a good choice.

For Women
Dressing in a conservative business suit is the best way to present a professional image. The suit should fit well and make you feel good about yourself.

Studies in social psychology have shown that women have an advantage over men when it comes to selecting colors for professional dress. Although the grays and blues are standard, women tend to be able to get away with wearing more of a variety of colors. colors including reds, Women are also usually able to wear various fabrics without appearing unprofessional.

Your blouse should complement the suit in a conservative fashion. It should not be too revealing, high around the neck, nor have too many ruffles or frills. White or off-white colors such as cream usually match well with many suit colors. See-through blouses are discouraged for the professional interview.

Jewelry should be kept to a minimum and make up is a must but should be minimally applied. Women can usually wear their hair in more styles as long as it is not too wild and brash. Women should not go overboard with bright, flashy nail polish colors, Stockings are a must and should be flesh-toned or colors very close to it. Avoid color or patterns that would be distracting.

Shoes should be sensibly selected in a way that is not intended to make a statement.

For Men and Women
Hair should be of a conservative style and not look like you have spent hours caring for it. The currently popular disheveled hairstyles may not be the best way to make points with a professional interviewer. Men who wear beards and mustaches should take extra time to make sure facial hair is neatly trimmed and not too long. Fingernails should be trimmed and hands clean. Cologne and perfume are fine for both men and women as long as it is not overbearing.

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