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Dressing for an interview

The suit

When wearing a single-breasted suit with more than two buttons, you may button all of the buttons-except the bottom button. Most suits come with pants that are pleated (some double or tripled). They should feel fuller through the thigh and should be worn at your waist, not on your hips.

The "break of the pants" is the distance between the ground and the hem-line of the pants. Typically this should be about 1.5 inches, but can vary depending on the style of pants and material.

Fabric & colour

Look for suits made of 100% "worsted" wool. Wool is a natural fiber that breathes which means you'll be more comfortable, you'll perspire less and the fabric will travel well. Look for suit jackets that are fully lined and pants that are lined to the knee. Lining increases comfort and reduces wrinkling. Adding a crotch liner to your suit pants will reduce the abrasion between your thighs and the fabric. Crotch liners help your pants last longer.

The shirt

White and other light colored shirts are best for your first interview. One hundred percent cotton works best for shirts for the same reasons that wool works well for suits: it breathes, so you perspire less and feel more comfortable. Always wear a long-sleeved dress shirt to your interview and for all business occasions.

It should be smooth around the neck and allow for an index finger of breathing room in the collar. A tee shirt worn underneath your dress shirt gives you added protection against noticeable perspiration and will help your shirt last longer.

The ties

The pattern/design should be conservative, not flashy. The tie color should match your shirt/suit color. Silk ties assure the best knot. A (silk or silk-like) tie should coordinate with the jacket and pant but choose one that strongly contrasts with the color of your shirt; selecting subtle or simple patterns enhances credibility.

The accessories

When coordinating colors, remember, leather to leather and metal to metal. Always match the color of your belt with your shoes and the color of your belt buckle with your watch.

Wear jewelry sparingly for your interviews. In some settings, it may detract from your professional appearance. Limit yourself to one ring per hand, and leave visible piercings at home.

Socks should match in color to your suit. Black socks are acceptable for dark colored suits, though a closer match is more desirable.

Be sure your shoes are shined, that the edging is not fading (a magic marker can sometimes work wonders,) and that laces are not broken or frayed.

For those of you, who need a quick review of the basics, follow these guidelines for successful interview dress:

Men and Women

  • Conservative two-piece business suit (solid dark blue or grey is best)
  • Conservative long-sleeved shirt/blouse (white is best, pastel is next best)
  • Clean, polished conservative shoes
  • Well-groomed hairstyle
  • Clean, trimmed fingernails
  • Minimal cologne or perfume
  • Empty pockets--no bulges or tinkling coins
  • No gum, candy or cigarettes
  • Light briefcase or portfolio case
  • No visible body piercing (nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.)

Men

  • Necktie should be silk with a conservative pattern
  • Dark shoes (black lace-ups are best)
  • Dark socks (black is best)
  • Get a haircut; short hair always fares best in interviews
  • No beards (unless you are interviewing for a job as a lumberjack!)
  • Mustaches are a possible negative, but if you must, make sure it is neat & trimmed
  • No rings other than wedding ring or college ring
  • No earrings (if you normally wear one, take it out)

Women

  • Always wear a suit with a jacket; no dresses
  • Shoes with conservative heels
  • Conservative hosiery at or near skin color (and no runs!)
  • No purses, small or large; carry a briefcase instead
  • If you wear nail polish (not required), use clear or a conservative color
  • Minimal use of makeup (it should not be too noticeable)
  • No more than one ring on each hand
  • One set of earrings only
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