How To Dress For Success: What You Should Or Should Not Wear On Job Interviews

How To Dress For Success: What You Should Or Should Not Wear On Job Interviews

It has been said that “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but this is certainly not the case when it comes to job interviews. First impressions do matter and particularly when applying for a job. In fact, how you dress on an interview can make a huge statement even before you open your mouth. Here are a few guidelines on how you can dress for success:

Wearing a Dress vs. a Suit

Women preparing for job interviews often wonder if they should wear a dress or a suit. This largely depends on the type of job that they’re seeking. While pantsuits weren’t usually worn on job interviews 50 years ago, today they’re generally considered to be accepted attire.

In most cases, employers don’t care if their female employees wear pantsuits or dresses, provided they look neat and professional. But to be safe, wear a skirted suit for your first interview. Then, if you’re asked to come back for additional interviews, it will probably be fine to wear a regular pantsuit.

Dress Guidelines

If you do decide to wear a dress, be sure to:

  • Include a suit jacket if you wear a sleeveless dress.
  • Select muted or neutral colors instead of bold, colorful prints.
  • Check the length of your dress or skirt. It should be long enough to reach the knees.
  • Focus on being basic and conservative.
  • On the other hand, if you’re interviewing for a job in a fashion industry, you should dress for the position. This means not looking boring or too stuffy. In other words, you want to leave an image for being creative. 

Guidelines For Shirts

  • In addition to not wearing tank tops, don’t wear a sleeveless shirt.
  • Make sure that your shirt goes with your suit.
  • For a light, airy and fresh look, consider a cotton white shirt.
  • Don’t wear a shirt that shows a lot of cleavage and be sure your bra strap doesn’t show.


  • Choose closed-toe shoes over sandals and flip-flops.
  • Use padded inserts in your shoes because this can help in stabilizing and protecting your feet.
  • Be sure that your shoes match the job site.
  • Wear pantyhose to depict a professional image, especially if you’re applying for a position in a corporate setting. Be sure your pantyhose complement your natural skin tone.

What to Wear in Hot Weather

Even when the weather is hot, as it generally is here in Hawaii, it’s still critical to look as professional as possible. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable.

  • Never wear shorts, unless you’ve been told otherwise. When it’s hot outside, wear pants constructed of a lightweight fabric, such as cotton, linen or khaki.
  • If you do wear linen, just be sure it’s not wrinkled as doing so can look sloppy.
  • Choose light colors over dark ones.
  • Half-lined jackets, as opposed to full-lined ones, are more comfortable in hot conditions.
  • Take a small handkerchief to wipe away any beads of sweat, and please don’t wear slippers.

Considerations and Warnings

  • Before going on an interview, ask the hiring manager about the dress code.
  • Don’t dress too casual. This means you don’t want to wear the same clothes you wore as a student. While an informal look may have been more acceptable 20 years ago, it’s not a good idea now as there is a greater job shortage.
  • It helps to dress at least a level higher than the position for which you’re applying. For example, even if you’re applying for a job as a maid, you still don’t want to come dressed in sweats and jeans.
  • Look for alternative ways that can help in boosting your wardrobe. One way that many Hawaiians enhanced their wardrobe was by attending the recent “Goodwill Goes Glam” event, which was held in late July. 

Are you getting ready for an interview with us? Contact Bishop and Company and we’ll be happy to give you some “Dress for Success” pointers. Our woman-owned employment agency, located in downtown Honolulu, has been providing staffing solutions and helping people find jobs since 1986.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.