How to Dress for Success

What to Wear to That All-important First Interview

Kimberley Payne
Apr 28 · 3 min read

It takes only seconds to make a good first impression.

But what does “good first impression” mean? In an interview, it starts with clothing.

Baby boomers and Gen-Xers understand the term Business Casual as a style of clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear but still gives a professional impression.

Unfortunately, Millenials (those born in the 1980s and 1990s) who are now graduating from a post-secondary school, are not so well versed.

I discovered this while attending committee meetings with employers. I work at a college where we meet regularly with community agencies and companies who hire our grads.

When asked what candidates were wearing at a first interview, I was appalled to learn that some students arrived in less-than-Business-Casual wear.

One candidate came to the interview in a business suit and flip-flops!

Dear Millenials, here is what employers mean when they suggest that you wear Business Casual to an interview:

No Yoga Pants

Although yoga pants are uber-comfortable and the current trend for pants, it is not appropriate to sport your Lululemon’s to a first interview.

No Sleeveless Shirts

Yes, your tattoo sleeve is cool looking, but not something we want to see at the first interview. Wear a shirt with sleeves. And please, women, tuck in the girls. It’s not appropriate to showcase your bodacious bosom.

No Flip-Flops

Shoes need to be sensible. Dress shoes, loafers, closed toe — something without 10-inch-heels.

When we say to “dress up” it does not mean to wear club apparel.

No Sunglasses

Yes, we know that some glasses are prescription and have the tinting feature. But if you require such eye-wear then ensure you arrive at the interview in plenty of time to let them adjust to the indoor lighting.

No Logos

We do not need to see walking advertisements for Nike, Adidas or Levi. We like these brands too, but they’re not appropriate to wear at a first interview.

You are interviewing for a job, not going to the beach or a bar.

No Hats

Nuff said.

All employers remarked that it’s not necessary to wear name brands or expensive clothing, however, all clothing must be ironed!

Don’t forget that hygiene is important. Comb your hair and wear deodorant.

Don’t forget that cleanliness is important. No stains on clothes and no rips.

Don’t forget that modesty is important. No bare midriffs and crop-tops.

Keep in mind that most organizations have a Scent-free policy. Scented products such as perfume/cologne and scented deodorant can trigger health problems in others. Don’t wear it.

Now that we are settled on what to wear to that all-important first interview we now need to work on what to say. But that’s for another post.

As an employer, what experiences have you had with appropriate (or inappropriate) attire in an interview setting?


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Kimberley Payne

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Author. Jesus Lover. Oma. Exercise & healthy eating are to the body what prayer & Bible study are to the spirit. https://www.kimberleypayne.com/free-programs

The Startup

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