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Be Your Best

What to wear to the interview

There is no one correct way to dress for an interview. Depending on the position you are interviewing for, appropriate dress attire will vary. For instance, someone who is interviewing for a position as a gardener will dress differently from one who is interviewing for a position as an attorney. Nevertheless, there are tasks you can perform to help determine your best attire for the interview.

  • Visit the potential place of employment and note what other people in your targeted position are wearing. Plan to dress one step above the attire required for the job.
  • Call the Human Resources department at the potential place of employment and ask about interview attire.

If there is a possibility you will be required to perform a task at the interview, make sure you are prepared with appropriate work clothing and supplies. For instance, if you are applying for a job as a welder, you should have your work clothes and tools available to demonstrate your skills. Or, if you’re applying for a position as a business assistant, make sure you have a pen and note pad on hand to take notes.

If you happen to interview for a position where formal business attire is required, the following are tips for dressing appropriately. Following these tips are suggestions for casual business attire. And, as a general tip, regardless of your dress attire: choose and prepare a backup outfit in case of any last minute mishaps.

Formal interview attire

Formal Business Attire: What to Wear and What Not to Wear

Casual interview attire

Casual Business Attire: What to Wear and What Not to Wear

Other professional presentation tips

Before the interview:

  1. Avoid smoking.
  2. Brush your teeth, use mouthwash, or use a breath mint.
  3. Turn your cell phone off. If there is a compelling reason to leave it on (there’s a possibility that a family member may be going into labor, for example), set the phone to silent ring or vibrate, and let the interviewer know that you may need to take an emergency call at the beginning of the interview.

During the interview:

  1. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and sincere smile.
  2. Call him or her by his or her title (Ms., Mr., Dr.) and last name. If you’re unsure how to pronounce the interviewer’s name, ask the receptionist before going into the interview.
  3. Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting.
  4. Avoid chewing gum.

Throughout the interview, maintain:

  1. Eye contact with the interviewer(s).
  2. An alert and interested expression throughout the interview.
  3. An upright posture, and avoid fidgeting or slouching.

Succeed in your interview with Dress for Success

Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Please contact your local One-Stop Career Center to obtain a referral to visit your local Dress for Success boutique.

In addition, there are nonprofit agencies throughout New Jersey that can assist you in preparing for your interview. Search a database of nonprofit agencies by visiting nj211.org.

In a survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers, 33 percent claimed to know whether or not they would hire someone within 90 seconds.