We often hear the phrase, “You never get a second change to make a first impression!” Remember, you are marketing yourself to a potential employer, and the first thing the employer sees is your attire; thus, you must make every effort to have the proper dress for the type of job you are seeking.


One of the most important things to understand about dressing for success is to understand the parameters on what and who defines professional dress. Whether or not you agree with what constitutes professional dress, you will always be evaluated and perhaps judged based on how you are dressed. With cover letters, it’s the opening paragraph that lets the employer know that you know what you want. With a resumes or CV, it is a quick scan of your education and accomplishments. With the job interview, it’s how you’re dressed that sets the tone of the interview.

Dressing conservatively and modestly is always the safest route, but you should also try and do a little investigating of your prospective employer so that what you wear to the interview makes you look as though you fit in with the organization. If you overdress (which is rare but can happen) or underdress (the more likely scenario), the potential employer may feel that you don’t care enough about the job.

How do you find out what is the proper dress for a given job/company/industry? You can call the Human Resources office where you are interviewing and simply ask. Or, you could visit the company’s office to retrieve an application or other company information and observe the attire current employees are wearing — though make sure you are not there on a “casual day” and misinterpret the dress code.

tncinstitute-reachhigh1Finally, do you need to run out and spend a lot of money on clothes for interviewing? No, but you should make sure you have at least two professional sets of attire. You’ll need more than that, but depending on your current financial condition, two is enough to get started and you can buy more once you have the job or have more financial resources.

Attention to details is crucial, so here are some tips from our workshops for both men and women.


Make sure you have:

  • Clean and well shined, dark conservative dress shoes
  • Clothing should be comfortable and well fitting
  • Well-groomed hairstyle (long hair should be worn up)
  • Facial hair should be trimmed to reflect well groomed appearance
  • Cleaned and trimmed fingernails
  • Avoid strong cologne or perfume
  • No visible body piercing beyond conservative ear piercings for women
  • Well-brushed teeth and fresh breath
  • Do not have dry lips or display dry skin
  • No gum, candy, or other objects in your mouth
  • Minimal jewelry and none should make noise or draw attention
  • No foul body odor

Finally, check your attire in the rest room just before your interview for a final check of your appearance — to make sure your tie is straight, your hair is combed, etc.