It is a common saying that, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” The first impression is very important, especially in an interview setting. How the interviewer views you can strongly affect the way in which you are perceived and can dictate how they interact with you. Therefore, it is important that you make the best first impression possible, and how you dress is essential in achieving that goal. There are a few things that you should keep in mind to ensure that you put your best foot forward and are perceived in a positive light.

Universal Risks

There are certain things that both men and women should avoid doing. You do not want to show any body piercings or tattoos. The most you will want to have is one pair of earrings for women, but none for men. If you can cover your tattoos with a shirt or pair of pants, it is best to do so. If you cannot cover your tattoo with clothing, depending upon what and where it is, you might consider wearing tattoo makeup. However, keep in mind that you might need to keep wearing it throughout your time in the position. Also, you should be cognizant of how you smell. You do not want to have any body odor, but at the same time you want to divert from excessive amounts of perfume or cologne. In fact, it is suggested that you do not wear any fragrance at all, or minimal amounts. Though it may smell delightful to you, the interviewer may not think the same, especially after spending an hour in a room with various individuals and their specific scent choices.

Risks Specific to Men and Women

There are certain risks that are specific to men and women as well.


  • Avoid looking too casual
  • Do not wear a non-matching suit
  • Especially in a corporate job, long hair or a ponytail should be avoided; it can be viewed as immature

  • Do not keep a large amount of facial hair; if you have any, keep it well groomed


  • Do not style hair in the face; if possible, wear your hair back or up and use hair clips when necessary

  • Avoid low-cut shirts and short skirts; to be on the safe side, utilize the old trick of putting your arms to your side and make sure that the hem of your skirt meets or surpasses your fingertips

  • Stay away from wearing too much makeup; keep it natural and use neutral colors, if you wear it at all

    Hints to Heed

    Along with things that you should not wear, there are a few hints to heed that can help you to ace the successful look that you are going for. The key word to remember is clean. Make sure that you have clean, conservative business attire, that your face is clean and clear of loose hair if possible, and that your fingernails are clean and trimmed. You will also want to make sure that your teeth are clean and that your breath is fresh. Your goal should be to appear clean in all aspects. It is also good to wear minimal, small jewelry. If you are on a strict budget, aim to have two appropriate outfits that you can alternate until you are able to afford more.

    It should be noted that there are exceptions to the rule sometimes, depending upon the company culture. In fact, sometimes dressing in traditional business attire might be too overdressed and the interviewer might feel that you might not fit into the company culture. However, this must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. To ensure that you dress appropriately, it never hurts to contact the Human Resource Department of the company and double check with them what is considered appropriate attire. You could also drop by the office one day to “get an application” and observe how individuals are dressed. If you choose this route, you will want to make sure that you do not go in on a casual dress day, otherwise you might get the wrong impression.

    Though it may seem like it should be insignificant, your appearance plays a major part in how you are perceived and can set the trajectory for your interview. By avoiding the aforementioned risks and heeding the tips, you can be sure to dress correctly to make the best first impression possible.

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