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It is important to look and feel your best during an interview! You want to feel confident and calm while meeting a future employer. You don’t always have to wear a suit, but you should dress one step above what the typical everyday work environment attire is. For example, if you will be wearing business casual, we recommend you wear a suit to the interview. If you will be wearing jeans every day to your job, dressing in a button-down shirt and khakis or dress pants and a nice blouse. When in doubt, we recommend dressing in business professional! 

The Office of Career Services has designed this blog to help you navigate the strangeness of the difference between casual, business casual, and business professional. Of course, you tend to feel your best when you look your best! When it comes down to it, follow the golden rule when dressing for an interview: wear things that make you feel good. If you feel good, you'll be comfortable. And if you're comfortable, you'll think clearly and communicate effectively. Focus on feeling good and you'll make your interview a success.


Workplace Casual 

Make sure you've done your homework before showing up dressed casually for an interview. Remember, you can never be overdressed but you can certainly be underdressed. If you do land an interview and you're sure that you should be dressing casually, you'll want to look smart, not casual.

The key is to look polished. The top should be dressy. You should absolutely wear professional shoes. It's about sending the message of casual, crisp, and clean. Even if it's a casual look, wear a collar or nice blouse because t-shirts won't cut it in a job interview. Dark denim paired with a shirt with good lines and thoughtful accessories will do the trick — you can never go wrong with a strong watch. 


Business Casual 

Most simply put, this dress code means business clothing without a mandatory tie or jacket. Business casual interview attire is a sharp button-up shirt or a conservative blouse paired with trousers or a skirt. You could also wear a tailored dress. Shoes should absolutely be business-appropriate — flats, loafers, or heels. Do not wear shoes that are uncomfortable. Stilettos may be beautiful, but if you can't walk around your prospective new office comfortably, you will look uncomfortable and ultimately act uncomfortable. Keep cleavage to a minimum and skirts at knee length.

Here is a great opportunity to show your personality through colors. Every other candidate you're up against is probably wearing a black or grey suit with a similar shirt and tie combo. Show your personality and stand out with a unique shirt or simple accessories. If you're totally against wearing a jacket, you could choose dress pants with a dress shirt under a nice sweater. This is a comfortable look that will keep you looking professional and feeling at ease.


Business Professional

Business means that you want to look as tailored as possible-- you want to look as if your clothing was cut specially for you. A traditional suit is a solid option, but there are also some non-traditional items available that can show off your personality and achieve the dress code just as well. Stick to the rule of dress, pants/skirt, and jacket and find a creative balance that will work for you. Close toed shoes are also recommended.

Suit options are more limited. You're going to have to wear a full suit, tie included. But, you can spice it up by adding interesting pieces like a vest or a sweater that will give some dimension to your otherwise simple look. Be cautious of adding too many layers though — you don't want to create an oven for yourself! You can also add touches like cufflinks to your suit to show a little flair.


Extra Tips and Tricks

  • SMILE! This shows the employers a friendly face. It makes you look excited to be talking to this company and interested in what they have to say.
  • Display good hygiene by being freshly showered. Brush your teeth right before the interview if at all possible. If you have been meaning to get a haircut, style, beard trim, or shave, now is the time. Make sure your face and hands are clean and your nails are on the shorter side. If you use nail polish, choose neutral tones, like nude or gray—or subtle red tones. 
  • Do not chew gum or candy and do not smell like tobacco, cologne or perfume.
  • Make sure your clothing is free of wrinkles, tears, and stains.
  • Be cognizant of how tattoos and piercings will be accepted in your industry. It's typically advised to cover up all tattoos and take out any piercings that are not in the ears.
  • Try on your outfit several days in advance of the interview in case you need to buy new clothing or borrow clothing from a friend or family member. The UAH Office of Career Services also offers a Career Closet for UAH students located in the Business Administration Building in the Academic Advising Office.