Do's & Don'ts for Interview Attire

By Luke DeMonico - Morris County School of Technology

Sometimes, just looking the part can separate you from the crowd. Clothes make the man, or so the saying goes, but far too often people underestimate just how important presentation can be. When it comes to interviews, conferences, or any business atmosphere, the way you dress can have a very important impact on how people perceive you. Below are my key tips. 

DO Shop Thrifty. DON’T Shop Cheap.

There is a fine line between shopping cheap and shopping thriftily. Deals can be hard to come by but it is better to invest your money in quality pieces that will last than poorly made items that won’t.  

For better quality items at wallet-friendly prices, check out TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Century21 or the outlet locations of your favorite stores.  Additionally, great deals can be found in the sales and clearance sections of your local department stores or online.

DO Get Clothes That Fit.

Clothing that is too baggy can come across as sloppy and too tight items look unprofessional. Ask a sales associate to help you find the right size or bring a friend or parent along for a second opinion on the fit. Together, you can find an interview outfit that fits well, looks good, and feels great.

DON’T Forget To Iron.

Nothing is worse than a pair of khakis that look like they were fished out from the bottom of the laundry pile and thrown on haphazardly. There's no faking it with a jacket. Plan ahead and iron the pieces you plan on wearing the night before. 

DO Your Pre-Interview Research.

If this is for a college interview, google the location to see the space vibe and feel.  As a rule of thumb, be a little bit more dressed up than the typical everyday office attire.  If the staff shows up to work wearing jeans and sweatshirts, still arrive in a dress shirt and tie - better to be slightly overdressed than look like you didn’t try.

DON’T Be Afraid To Experiment.

A lot of learning how to dress well is trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try something new for the sake of finding your own personal style. You can move away from the daily uniform of Boardroom Black and New Intern Navy and into colors and styles that make you feel like yourself, just streamlined for the office. Trying patterns, like checkers, plaid, or broad stripes, is another way to experiment with professional style.

DO Add Your Own Style.

As you branch out aesthetically, look for accessories that capture your personal style while also being office-appropriate. Whether it is unique rings, watches, neckwear, socks, or shoes, adding your own flair will truly make it yours. Ties are a simple way to make your work wear original. Go for a bold color, an exciting pattern, or even knit wool; a smart tie will help you stand out in the workplace.

DO Groom Thyself.

Get a haircut, trim your nails, shave or groom your facial hair, wash your hands, wash your face, brush your teeth, throw on a bit of cologne.  These simple hygienic habits go a long way in making you look – and smell - the part.  If you tend to be a stress sweater, bring deodorant and an extra undershirt in your workbag that you can change into before heading in.

DON’T Stress.

Nothing makes an outfit look better than confidence because when you feel uncomfortable, you look uncomfortable. Find a professional outfit that still feels like you so you can walk in with assurance, relax during your meeting, and put your best foot forward. Your skills will shine through all on their own, the right clothes just gives them the best stage.

Check out more tips from Luke at @NGVMCST!