Making a great first (and second) impression goes a long way when it comes to interviews, internships and entry-level jobs. That's why we recommend students and alumni start thinking about their professional images early, investing in appropriate clothes and practicing proper professional etiquette.
Use these tips for putting your best foot forward.
How to Dress for An Interview (or Your First Day on the Job)
For the best results, we recommend that women wear a suit or pantsuit in muted tones, avoiding low-cut blouses, short skirts, excessive makeup, loud jewelry or frilly materials. For men, we recommend dark suits, matching socks, a coordinated, collared shirt and a conservative tie. For both genders, it's better to overdress than under-dress. Make sure blouses and shirts are ironed, shoes are polished and hair is neat. Avoid perfume or cologne.
To make an even better first impression, do some research about the company or industry. An accounting firm, for example, might respond best if you wear your suit jacket, while an ad agency interviewing for design jobs may be more impressed by a less formal, but still-professional approach without the suit jacket.
Meeting and Greeting
When you meet someone new–whether an interviewer or the receptionist–always make eye contact, smile, shake hands and introduce yourself with a friendly greeting. Being personable starts things off on the right foot.
In addition to dressing well and being personable, here are a few professional etiquette tips to keep in mind when making a first (or second) impression:
- Listen. You'll come across as attentive and might learn some important things about the company or industry in the process.
- Stay focused. Don't let your attention drift during conversations with your interviewer or new co-workers.
- Arrive five minutes early.
- Carry copies of your resume, cover letter, business card and/or portfolio with you.
- Sit (or stand) up straight and avoid fidgeting.
Professional Image Resources
Creating a Positive Professional Image, from Harvard Business School
Dining Interview Etiquette: Manners, Meals and Interviews