Professional Dress Tips

First impressions count and, yes, hiring managers and recruiters do judge a book by its cover. The clothes you wear can make a powerful first impression. Plan in advance how you will dress for the interview. Dressing your best shows respect and professionalism. Dress appropriately for the position. If you do not know the expected dress code, dress more conservatively. Your clothes should not detract from your overall presentation. They should be subtle and professional. Remember, you have only one chance to make a strong first impression.

Dress for Success: A Guide on How to Dress for Your Next Interview

Things to Remember

  • Colors should coordinate.
  • Try the outfit on before the day of the interview.
  • It is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  • Clothes should fit well and be clean, neat and pressed.
  • Shoes should be polished, not scuffed.
  • Hair should be neat, combed and conservatively styled.
  • Fingernails should be clean and properly trimmed.
  • Jewelry should reflect quality and be worn sparingly.
  • Remove body piercings (nose, eyebrow rings, etc.).
  • Cover tattoos if possible.
  • Eyeglasses should be clean.
  • Refrain from gum, candy, drinks or cigarettes.
  • Carry a light briefcase or portfolio.
  • Bring a pen and paper.
  • Neatness and personal hygiene do make a difference!


  • A dress is acceptable, but not required.
  • No bold colors, dramatic prints, low-cut necklines, spaghetti straps, camisoles or exposed midriffs.
  • Pants or a knee-length or longer, dark-colored skirt are best with a light-colored blouse or jacket.
  • Hose should be a neutral color; if hose are not worn, be sure legs are shaved.
  • Wear medium or low-heeled shoes that are polished and conservative and not flashy or too trendy.
  • Handbags should be small or not carried at all.
  • Wear at maximum one ring on each hand, just one set of earrings and avoid showy jewelry.
  • Wear minimal make-up and perfume.
  • Hair should be well-groomed and be kept away from the face.
  • Avoid extremely long fingernails and trendy or bold nail polish.


  • A suit is acceptable, but not required; traditional colors, such as dark blue, gray or black are best.
  • Otherwise, wear dark pants in black, brown or khaki with a white button-down shirt and tie or classic collared shirt.
  • Ties should coordinate with pants and have a professional look.
  • Shoes should be either black or brown with coordinating socks — wear socks!
  • Hair, including facial hair, should be neatly trimmed.
  • Wear minimal or no cologne or aftershave.
  • Wear minimal jewelry; a watch and wedding and/or college ring are acceptable.
  • Remove earrings, even if you usually wear them.