Posted by Jennifer Creamer
This is an excerpt from our Senior Handbook, a guide we have written to help seniors prepare for life after graduation. These tips are applicable to all students who are in the midst of the interviewing process for jobs or internships. The Senior Handbook is now available for download on our Web site.
The most basic rule of thumb to use when deciding what to wear for an interview is this: the simpler, the better. Think vanilla. Contrary to what some students may think, this is not an early sign of submission to The Man. Loud, revealing, or unusual clothing is a distraction during an interview. It will serve you well if your statements and your personality are the most memorable thing about you (as opposed to your flashy tie or those heels that you usually wear to Rhino). Even if your preferred industry is highly creative or known to be informal, be careful. It’s always better to convey your serious interest in the position by overdressing. So what does that look like?
Here are some general tips:
- Research the preferred dress at the office you will be visiting. Many workplaces prefer a professional dark business suit (black, dark blue, grey), but some offices may prefer less traditional dress. When in doubt, ask someone at the company or in the industry for suggestions.
- Skip the aftershave, cologne, or perfume; because some people are allergic to various scents, the safest route is to refrain from using them altogether.
- Bring a briefcase or portfolio for your extra résumés, note paper, breath mints, etc.
- Wear a conservative tie.
- Arrive clean shaven.
- Wear polished shoes that match or complement your suit. Don’t be afraid to ask for an opinion from a roommate.
- Limit jewelry to a watch, ring, and cufflinks.
- Wear conservative jewelry (i.e., small earrings, one ring instead of three, small necklace).
- Wear stockings or pantyhose with a skirt.
- Keep your hair away from your face, if possible.
- Wear conservative makeup and nail polish. Again, we’re not trying to cramp your style – we just want your personality to shine thanks to your words, not thanks to the new nail color from OPI.
- Don’t wear a low-cut blouse. Blouses need to be buttoned to the top or second-to-top button.
- Don’t wear open-toe shoes or shoes with heels higher than two inches. It’s worth it to invest in a simple pair of black or brown flats or low heels. If you need to buy them for the interview, chances are you’ll need to buy them for the job a few weeks later anyway.
Be sure to try on your outfit well in advance of your interview to make sure everything fits and looks professional.
You might be thinking, “In that case, I have nothing to wear!” Borrow a roommate’s things if you need to. Additionally, take advantage of local thrift stores or secondhand shops to help build your professional wardrobe. Because there are so many affluent neighborhoods in close proximity to Georgetown, it’s often easy to find some nicely appointed items for a fraction of what you’d pay shopping on M Street. Below are some examples; call or visit the Web site to get a sense of price points and current offerings.
Frugalista (thrift shop for men and women)
3069 Mt. Pleasant
Mon – Sat: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Mustard Seed (secondhand shop for women)
7349 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
Current Boutique (secondhand shop for women)
2529 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
1009 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Mint Condition (secondhand shop for women)
114 S. Royal Street
Alexandria, VA 22314