Congratulations! You finally landed that interview and you’re going through your interview prep list:

 Resume?  Check!

 References?  Check!

 List of intelligent questions to ask the interviewer? Check!

 Mirror? Check! 

 A mirror?!  That’s right, a mirror. 

 When you meet someone for the first time, they will form their impression of you within a matter of seconds.  This holds true even during an interview, so you want to be sure that what’s reflected in the mirror will help, not hurt your chances of making a great first impression.  

Not convinced? Soon after I was hired at one organization, my (then) new co-worker and I were reminiscing about the day I interviewed with her.  In addition to remembering what we’d discussed, she recounted in great detail what I had worn.  She shared with me that in addition to our conversation, my attire had made a very strong impression.  She told me that the way I was dressed reinforced to her my professionalism and showed that I was serious about working for the organization.  Wow! I didn’t know a suit could “say” all that! Although I’d always been careful about what I wore to interviews, suffice it to say that my co-worker’s words really stuck with me and reinforced how impactful interview attire can be.

 But, enough about me! Here are a few tips to help you make a lasting, positive impression during those first few critical seconds:

Do: Consider your potential audience.  It’s common knowledge that it’s important to dress “appropriately” for an interview.  However, defining “appropriate” is sometimes a challenge.  What’s considered appropriate will be defined in large part by an organization’s culture.  For example, if you’re interviewing for a position in a conservative company, a suit for the interview is a “must.”  If you’re interviewing in a field such as entertainment and advertising, a more creative look may be your best option. 

 Don’t:  Forget to do your research.  If you’re lucky enough to know someone who works at your prospective employer, ask them about the corporate culture and acceptable attire.  If you don’t have an inside track, research the company website to learn as much as you can about the culture; this will give you valuable insight into what’s acceptable. 

 Do:  Let your personality show.  “Appropriate” doesn’t have to be boring. A unique, tasteful accessory can help set you apart from others.

 Don’t: Try too hard to make a statement.  The interview is not the time to debut your edgy new haircut or flashy new suit.  Stick with a tried and true look that makes you feel confident.  If you have them, be careful about displaying tattoos and piercings.  Some employers may be accepting of them; many will not.

 Do: Accentuate the positive.  Choose a well-fitted outfit that flatters you.

 Don’t: Flaunt your “assets.”  Avoid low-cut or tight blouses that show too much cleavage.  Remember, you’re interviewing for a job, not auditioning for a music video.

 Do:  Sweat the small stuff.  Pay attention to the little details that can make or break a look – e.g. freshly pressed suit, clean nails, and polished shoes.

 Don’t:  Go overboard with make-up, cologne or perfume.  You want the interviewer to remember you for your skills, not your scent!

 Do: Test drive your outfit.  Make sure the outfit you plan to wear is wrinkle-resistant and will hold up well during your trip to the interview. 

 Don’t:  Put all that time and effort into your look only to arrive at the interview looking like a big, wrinkled mess!

 Do:  Arrive early to the interview location.  Not only is it a great opportunity to complete necessary paperwork, compose your thoughts, etc.  you can also use the extra time to dash to the rest room to give your look the final once over.

 Don’t: Primp in the reception area. Generally speaking, grooming in public is considered rude; therefore, it should be done in a private place (i.e. the rest room).

 As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.  Make your first impression count!

 Good luck & happy interviewing!

Cammela Teel, PHR is a human resources professional with extensive experience in training assessment and delivery, staffing, employee relations, performance management, immigration, compensation, and benefits.

© 2015, Shalena D.I.V.A. – Personal Branding| Content Marketing| Product Creation. All rights reserved.


  1. Shakeda Classydivalady Gaines via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Always been told.. Blues, Blacks, Grays, Suit jacket or blazer, with a dress skirt or slacks. Pumps or flats nothing flashy no open toe shoes, limites jewerly , small earrings.. & always wear stockings

  2. via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Oh boy… some people really miss the mark on this one and it’s such a shame. I was blessed to take an internship class that taught me how to dress and present myself in almost any setting and I’m so thankful for it. I think some people should really sit down and think about how they are presenting themselves, especially in job interviews. Women should not show tons of cleavage or wear tight fitting skirts or pants. You don;t want to display those assets. Now a days, i see a lot of men wearing that tight fitting European look. If they’re not slim, that looks does not become them and their stuff looks super tight on them. Not a good look. I would also say some people should find out how to behave during interviews like making eye contact, and what time to arrive and how to actin the lobby area. IT ALL COUNTS.

  3. Gene Steele via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 11:06 am

    How about y would u wear that at all! After a certain age we need to dress appropriately!!

  4. via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 11:09 am

    @Gene–very true! But you’d be surprised by the number of people who don’t know any better. I remember a young girl brought her screaming baby to an interview. I felt for her becasue i could tell she really needed a job, but what an impression. I’m sure the employer realized that she would have trouble finding a babysitter. Who knows… she may have a reliable babysitter, butthey backe dout that day. I dunno so i won’t judge, but remember– first impressions are lasting.

  5. via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 11:10 am

    @Shakeda–I think your list is very safe. You can’t go wrong with that.What about the hair– that’s another story…

  6. Karen Wilson via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 11:41 am

    The dress code should start if you go to an office and complete an app I know we do most stuff on the internet, but if you go into a office to complete that is where the first impression begins so dress accordingly bcause people are watching

  7. Gene Steele via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 11:46 am

    The first thing the person doing the interview thought was “She’ll be taking off too many days!” When I was a supervisor working for the city I let mothers take the time they needed & stood up for them! As long as they didn’t abuse it!

  8. Aysha Edwards via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    This is a huge problem & unfortunately our people seem to be the worse & draw so much negative attn from the stuff I’ve seen. Don’t even know where to begin.
    It’s not the runway or the street, it’s work…plz dress appropriately. No 5 in heels w/platforms, mini skirts, pants hanging off ur assets or not enough material to cover ur assets…smh.

  9. via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    @Aysha– It’s really sad. ow about the neon pink weaves????

  10. Aysha Edwards via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Let’s not get started on the hairweaves!!!

  11. via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    @Aysha–Please do! People need to know… You’ll be surprised by how many people really don’t know. You could save someone’s job opportunity!

  12. Diane Hendricks via Facebook on May 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Hey Shay I think we should get the understanding on what is the dress code before we go out or seek advice from someone who as experience it. This will prove to be very impressive on your future boss.

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