Professional Dress

Dress for Success - Some tips for dressing for interviews.

When you are invited for an interview, be sure to dress professionally in a manner appropriate for the organization.  Network to find out what is expected in your career field. Although business casual may be the daily dress, many organizations have different standards of professional behavior for interviews. (Think Hiram, where staff and faculty rarely wear business suits EXCEPT to interviews where they are usually expected.)  In general, interviews are considered your most formal interaction with the organization. So don't assume that a business casual work environment means casual for the interview!


As a rule of thumb, a business where you interact with clients or the public and/or a conservative organization such as a bank or accounting firm would always expect business dress and both men and women should wear a business suit.

However, many other organizations such as government organizations or public relation firms also expect business dress for interviews even though they don't wear business dress daily. Some technology firms and nonprofits might accept business casual dress. When you are invited for the interview, ask if business dress is expected.

See this brief overview of interview dress, Syms Dress to Achieve.

  • For most academic graduate program interviews, dress pants for men and women, dress shirts with a collar and/or a blazer should be fine.  Professional programs like MBAs and medical school require the higher standard of professional dress above.

All professional dress tips are designed to put the focus on YOU and not on your clothes.

  • Be well groomed and clean and make sure your clothes are neat and pressed.
  • Cover tattoos and avoid facial hair and piercings. They tend to distract.
  • Make sure your hair is neat and well-cut.


  • Wear only simple earrings and perhaps a simple necklace. Put away jewelry that represents your hobbies or religion. Personal information is not appropriate in an interview, and the focus should be on your ideas, not your earrings. Men with earrings may want to remove them until you are offered the job and can learn the employer's policy.
  • Choose a simple, plain blouse or top. Avoid see through blouses, low cut necklines, and clothes that are short, revealing, or tight.
  • Shoes should be professional but still stylish for women of your age. Avoid sandals.
  • Use natural looking makeup and nail colors. Avoid perfume, body sprays, or hair products that might cause negative reactions.


  • Select a matching suit in blue, gray or black. Shirts should be white or a light color with a contrasting tie. 
  • If your organization doesn't require a suit, a navy blazer and gray pants are good.
  • Choose lace up shoes with dark socks that are calf length. Avoid loafers and any shoe with white socks.
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