Day of the Interview


Good first impressions are vital. In an interview, the goal is to market yourself. You want to make a credible presentation about who you are and why you deserve the job. What you say and how you present yourself influences the impression you leave with others. Thus, “dressing for success” is a crucial step in the interview process.

So, how do you “dress for success”? Below are general guidelines that can help you put together your interview wardrobe. As these are general guidelines, check with people in your field for more examples. In addition, some interviews require you to dress a certain way as you might do plant or field tours; read your invitation for these details.

  • Formal from head to toe. It’s typically understood that an interview should be business formal attire (i.e. a full suit). The goal is not to match what you have heard is the company’s day-to-day dress code. Unless specified, it is best to be overdressed than underdressed.
  • Lose the wrinkles. Iron your clothes; a wrinkled shirt can easily give the impression that you are careless or sloppy.
  • Stay simple. You had your chance to rock a camo tux at prom so stick to neutral-colored suits for your interview.
  • Make sure clothing fits. People rarely hit overnight growth spurts in college. A recruiter may have a hard time seeing past your suit with quarter length sleeves or flood-style pants.
  • Match! Make sure your colors complement each other and avoid anything outlandish (i.e. orange shoes, LED belt buckle, fedora).

  • Simple blouse. Keep the pattern discrete, the frills minimal, and the neckline tame. Essentially, if your top does not draw attention to itself, you are “good to go.”
  • Skirt or Slacks. You are free to wear a pantsuit or a suit with a skirt. Neither is better than the other. However, if you do decide on a skirt, make sure it fits appropriately and has only a small slit, is no more than 1-2 inches above the knee, and is not too tight. Also, if you opt for a skirt, consider wearing panty hose.
  • Be comfortable in your shoes. Do not wear anything that is uncomfortable and will make you walk awkwardly. Stumbling or falling will be remembered much longer than how cute your shoes were. Flats or simple heels that match your suit are your best bet.
  • Let your hair be. There is not a set answer on whether to put your hair up or keep it down; choose a comfortable style so you will not “play with it” during the interview. Make sure it is clean, brushed, and away from your face and hands.
  • Minimize how much you accessorize. Go ahead and add some personal flair but keep it simple. If interviewers must wonder why you are “jingling” or if your ring will stab them when you shake hands, you are focusing their attention on the wrong things.

  • Button up. Go ahead and add some personal flair but keep it simple. If interviewers must wonder why you are “jingling” or if your ring will stab them when you shake hands, you are focusing their attention on the wrong things.
  • Wear a tie. A tie completes the suit. If your suit and shirt are solid, a patterned tie is appropriate. If your suit is striped, avoid a tie with stripes.
  • No white socks! Wear dark socks that match your suit. If you prefer patterned socks, it is suggested you match them to your tie.
  • Dark shoes. Wear nice dress shoes that are black, brown, or burgundy. If they are scuffed, polish them.
  • Facial hair. No one wants to hear it, but the beard should go. A clean-shaven face makes you look better groomed.
  • Belt it. Wear a belt that matches your shoes. If you have a preference for suspenders, get buttons sewn into your pants so you do not have inexpensive clips showing.


Don't be late. If you are doing a phone or virtual interview, make sure you have found a quiet space that has a reliable phone/wifi connection. If you are traveling to the interview, scout out the location using a “maps” program or, if able, drive to the location the day before to see how long it takes to get to the organization. Plan to arrive early on the interview day by at least 15 minutes; you always can hang out at a local coffee shop if you arrive earlier.



The interview is wrapping up. You have told the interviewer about yourself, described a time when you handled conflict within a group, and explained how you prioritize! So, you’re done, right? Not quite.

Once the interviewer completes the behavioral, technical, or personal questions, you will be asked one final question: “Do you have any questions for me?”

This is an important part of the interview! It is not asked as an “after thought” but is a continuation of the interview. Employers want to know if you have done your homework and have genuine interest in the organization and position. Before the interview, prepare a few questions to ask that show your sincere interest. Keep in mind-there are questions you should ask, as well as questions you should not ask.

  • What does it take to be successful in this organization?
  • What does a typical day look like in this position?
  • What is the organization’s culture like?
  • What is your favorite part about working for this company?
  • What kinds of assignments might I expect in the first six months of the job?
  • Will I have the opportunity to work on special projects?
  • What is the next step in the hiring process?

The intention of these questions is to demonstrate that you are interested in SUCCEEDING within the organization. It’s a chance to finalize your impression as a qualified candidate and help you decide if this company is the right place for you. Remember, a company and candidate both have to want each other for the match to work. Use this opportunity to help YOU figure out if the company is a match for you.

  • WHAT DOES YOUR COMPANY DO? Do your research beforehand - other candidates certainly have. Even if you had fantastic answers for every question you were asked, this could easily get you thrown into the “no” pile.
  • WHEN CAN I TAKE VACATION? You won’t have to ask for vacation if you ask this question, because you won’t even get the job. This kind of question implies that your priority is not working for the company but taking off work!
  • WILL I HAVE TO TAKE A DRUG TEST? This question is probably just as detrimental to you as a drug test coming out positive. They both imply the same thing.
  • WHAT IS THE SALARY OF THIS POSITION? This should never be brought up in a first-round interview. If later round interviews lead to this topic area, it may be appropriate to discuss. Most often, it’s best to wait for them to bring this up.
  • DID I GET THE JOB? Chances are they are on a timeline for hiring new people. They’re not going to drag the process out any longer than necessary. They will tell you when they know.

When you ask these “poor questions,” you risk giving the impression that you did not do your homework or that you care more about benefits than the position and organization.