by Kristy Amburgey
You have researched the company with which you will be interviewing. You have practiced your answers to interview questions. You have printed out your resume. You have thank you cards for after the interview. You are ready to conquer that interview! But did you think about what you will wear during the interview process? What you wear makes a distinct first impression, so you want to dress in the most professional and fitting attire for your interview situation. For many of the career fields within aviation and aerospace, conservative attire is key. For other career fields, you may find that less formal business dress is appropriate.
A business suit is the most appropriate attire for an interview. For both men and women, a suit conveys authority, power and professionalism. Suits should fit well and be altered or tailored as needed. Ladies can wear either pant or skirt suits, but the skirt must hit at or below the knee. Suit colors can vary, but the most conservative color palettes are navy, grey and soft black; dark colors are best when selecting a suit.
The shirt you wear under your suit should also be subdued in color and fit. Gentlemen should wear a long-sleeved, button down shirt. Ladies can wear button down shirts as well; other choices include knit, rayon, silk or other smooth fabric shirts with a neckline appropriate for an office setting. The recommended colors of the shirts are white, off white or light blue. Other shirt colors can be considered, but it is best to be conservative in your choice. Fit is just as important in a shirt as in a suit. Ensure that the neckline, sleeves and length fit well and select shirts that do not pull or gap down the front.
Gentlemen should wear ties with their suits and long-sleeved shirts. The tie should be in a restrained pattern or a solid that complements the colors of the shirt and suit.
Shoes and Socks/Stockings
Shoes are also an important piece of an interview outfit and can convey a distinct message about how you present yourself. Always wear clean, polished, un-scuffed shoes that are for a professional work environment. Gentlemen, wing-tips and lace-ups are common dress shoes and considered professional. Ladies, closed-toe flats and heels are appropriate; keep the heel height to no more than two to three inches. If wearing socks, the color should match your pants or shoes. Ladies, it is recommended that you wear pantyhose when wearing a skirt suit.
Gentlemen, a belt, braces, tie bar, cuff links, jewelry, a watch and other accessories can be appropriate. Just limit the number of pieces you wear to avoid distracting the interviewers. Ladies can also wear accessories like jewelry and a watch; ensure that the jewelry enhances your look without overwhelming you.
Good hygiene and grooming are just as imperative as what you wear. Pay attention to the small details that can make you look and feel ready for the interview. Ensure that your nails are clean and you are showered and fresh. Ladies, get touch ups on any outgrown hair color or highlights and select hair styles that will prevent you from playing with strands during the interview. Makeup should be muted but enhance your look, if you choose to wear it. Gentlemen, trim facial hair if applicable and ensure your hair has been recently cut and is neat.
There are certain things to avoid when dressing for an interview. Avoid wearing clothes that are too revealing or too ill-fitting. Don’t wear pieces with stains, rips, missing buttons or other issues that convey you don’t care about your appearance. Avoid strong colognes, perfumes and other smells that not everyone appreciates. Fresh breath is always a benefit; avoid drinking strong beverages or smoking right before an interview.
For the ladies and gentlemen, there are some alternatives to interview dress. Ladies, you can wear a dress and suit jacket combination. Gentlemen, for certain industries, you can wear a pair of slacks with a navy blazer and button-down shirt with tie. At times, certain career fields will find a pressed polo shirt and ironed khaki pants appropriate.
It is important to always research the industry, field and company to identify their standards for interview attire. For an interview, it is best to dress above the standard of what your future employer would consider professional dress.
Please visit the Career Services Pinterest group and peruse the What to Wear – Men, What to Wear – Women and What Not to Wear – Men and Women boards for ideas on professional dress.
For both the Prescott, AZ (October 3) and Daytona Beach, FL (October 9) Industry/Career Expos, professional dress is required. Over the summer, plan your Expo event attire.
Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department. She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.