Dress for Success: Tips for Your Next Interview

At the Charles Koch Institute, we are passionate not only about helping others improve their lives through a free and open society, but also about helping our program participants develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective professionals in the workplace. Mock interviews are a curriculum staple in many of our educational programs—they’re the perfect opportunity to prepare, practice telling your story, and get out those pesky jitters. Interviews are when you make the first impression on a potential employer, so we want to help you start off on the right foot!

The professional talent development team frequently receives questions about appropriate interview attire. “What’s appropriate for millennials to wear?” or “How do I show personality or personal style and still be professional?” are inquiries we get often.

Here are a few quick tips on how to display your professional prowess when dressing for your next interview:

  • Sharp, dark-colored suits are the way to go for both ladies and gentlemen. Studies show that navy blue and black best confer a sense of professionalism and leadership.
  • When picking out a top to go with that sharp suit, stick to a solid color. Avoid too much pattern—you want your interviewers to be looking at your résumé, not your paisley. And if you do want to show some personality, choose a bright color to pair with your dark suit!
  • Gentlemen: Ties (or bowties, if you are feeling extra fancy) should be worn with your suit. Stick to a tie without crazy patterns or figures on it. You don’t want your interviewer trying to decipher what is on your tie while you answer questions.
  • Ladies: Keep your jewelry and make-up clean and simple. Try to avoid over-the-top bling. (Again, you want the focus to be on you and your personality, not your BaubleBar layered necklace—even if it is quite fabulous!) And although we all love wing-tipped eyeliner, unless you are Adele, you’ll want to go for a more muted look. Finally, if you don’t frequently wear heels, please avoid the six-inch stilettos!
  • Accessories: Purses, briefcases, and backpacks—oh my! When walking into an interview, you don’t want to look like you are about to hike the Himalayas. A small purse or briefcase will do. We recommend packing a bottle of water in addition to your extra résumés!

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