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Dress for success

Illustration: Lizzie Pine

The interview. Whether graduation has you in the middle of a desperate job search or you’re hunting for a summer internship, it’s perhaps the most pivotal step of the employment process. As a result, there are a few things to keep in mind when dressing to meet your potential employer.

The first thing an interviewer will look at is your face. However, if you walk in wearing flip-flops and a hoodie, it will distract the interviewer from the actual interview, said Carlyn Crowe, internship coordinator for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The first interview investment someone should make is a fitted, tailored suit. A suit is a staple for any person’s wardrobe. If the career field you plan to enter does not normally require you to wear a suit, it is still proper to wear one for any formal interview.

“An ill-fitting suit could make a difference,” Crowe said. “If it looks like you are unkempt or didn’t take the time to get your suit tailored, that could give the impression that you may handle your work in the same way.”

Men should wear a white dress shirt and tie. The tie should be conservative, but still set you apart from other applicants. The best colors to wear are red or burgundy. While different colors can give off different meanings, always wear what feels comfortable.

Women should refrain from wearing too much makeup and distracting jewelry, and it has even been suggested to avoid bringing a purse. Women should style their hair as they do on a typical, day-to-day basis.

An important consideration women face when dressing for an interview is an appropriate amount of visible cleavage. Modesty is key. If you are worried about giving too much of a peep show, avoid V-necks or any shirts that may be prone to a wardrobe malfunction.

“How you dress and perceive yourself should reflect your personal brand,” Crowe said.

Men and women should both refrain from wearing cologne or perfume to an interview. Men should go lightly on aftershave. Backpacks or fanny packs are seen as unprofessional. Interviewees should be able to hold everything in one hand when going into an interview, unless you are required to bring large samples for a portfolio.

Crowe suggested bringing a binder with your portfolio, resume, a pen and prepared questions.

The way you dress and come across to your potential new employer should be genuine. And remember — a smile is the best accessory.

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