Dressing for the job you want

According to Laura Ralph, the mock interview coordinator at The Career Center, the first 60 seconds of your interview can make or break you. Take note of these do’s and don’ts to make a good first impression when interviewing for your dream job.


Dress for the part that you want, not the part that you have.

Business-professional clothing communicates preparation and readiness. For men, this attire includes a button-up shirt, a good belt, slacks, dress shoes and the option of adding a tie or suit jacket. For women, there is greater versatility. Although it is recommended to wear a button-up shirt with black slacks, a dress or a blouse with a skirt is appropriate, too, as long as the dress or skirt is below the knee. For shoes, women can choose from sandals, dress shoes or heels. Word of advice from Ralph: “If you can’t walk a mile in your shoes, do not wear them to an interview.”

Sit still and sit up as much as you can.

It’s tempting to move around in a swivel chair or fall into nervous tics, but this behavior will distract the interviewer, and it can take away from your responses. Use small hand movements and the shoulder-hip box. It’ll make you not seem like a robot, but will also let your interviewer know that you’re not a puppet either.

Eye contact shows that you’re their peer, you’re ready for this job and that you can potentially work with them in the future.

Maintain eye contact to let your interviewer know you’re engaged. But when they look away, feel free to look away too. Don’t keep looking down or up because it will leave your interviewer wondering what is more interesting than them.


Avoid clothes you’d wear to class, or anything you wouldn’t wear to a family gathering or Sunday service.

This includes jeans, pajamas, T-shirts, gym shoes and flip-flops. Steer clear from any clothing that is too tight or revealing. It is also best to avoid dramatic makeup or distracting jewelry or accessories. Use a modest amount of cologne and perfume; excessive amounts may be distracting.

Use your discretion when it comes to piercings and tattoos.

Depending on the potential job’s office environment or culture, gauge whether piercings and tattoos would be appropriate. But for the most part, keep piercings modest (the simple nose stud being the most acceptable) and try to cover tattoos up when you can.

Take out the “ums, likes and you knows.”

These words take away from your professionalism, confidence and credibility. Practice specific stories that hone in on leadership, teamwork, communication and analytical skills. The “tell me about yourself” question is normally asked within the first 60 seconds of the interview.

Don’t slouch.

Use the back of your seat as support to keep your posture straight. It’s not detrimental to your interview, but it will help you appear more professional.

Avoid distracting behavior.

Try not to play with anything that is within your reach — hands, hair, jewelry, phone or pens. Distracting behavior will let your interviewer know that you’re nervous.

Stephanie is a senior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]