Interview coming up? Scouring the internet searching for help?
Look no further. Or, at least, stop googling “Business Casual Attire [insert gender here].” We rolled up our sleeves, did some research, and checked with the experts. We spoke with a future CPA, a Hope College Education professor, and an Ad Agency Account Planner to learn their tips and tricks for interview attire. Here’s what we learned:
For an accounting interview (as well as healthcare interviews) you’re “selling your credibility,” so you want to project an image of professionalism and dependability. Our Career Advisor and experienced CPA Morgan recommends a suit for both men and women. Women should make sure their skirts fall at or below the knee. Conservative and neutral colors are the safest bet, and avoid anything that could be considered trendy or flashy.
Accounting and Healthcare:
In education interviews (as well as most corporate settings, law offices, and engineering firms), a suit is still the clear choice for men. Depending on the specific job, colored or conservatively patterned ties can be acceptable, as can dress pants and a sport coat or sweater. For women, a suit is still a good choice, but a conservative dress or a pencil skirt with non-matching blazer are viable alternatives. Just like in accounting and healthcare, sticking to conservative colors and avoiding trendy pieces will help establish credibility and won’t distract potential employers from your skills.
Education, Engineering, Business, or Law:
In the agency world (as in any creative profession) our Account Planner Ross emphasized being “memorable,” and appearing “professional without looking corporate.” His recommendations for men included dark wash jeans with a blazer and no tie, or chinos with a unique patterned shirt (remember not to cross the line from statement to novelty). For women, he said to keep it “a step above business casual” while “tastefully letting your personality come through.” He recommends staple business wardrobe items — pencil skirts, blouses, blazers, sheath dresses — in unusual colors or patterns. Ross told us that creative offices typically want to see if you’re “a culture fit,” and honestly stated “if you don’t look the part, you won’t get the call back.”
Agencies and Creative Fields:
White House Black Market, Chico’s, Men’s Warehouse, and Joseph A. Bank are great places for both women’s and men’s interview apparel, so be sure to check out these local stores for some great options!
Overall, remember to research the field you are pursuing. If you’re uncertain about what to wear, ask a contact in Human Resources, or call us at the Career Development Center and we’d be happy to help you (616-395-7950). Make sure your outfits fits well, and get your clothing tailored as needed. Professionalism is key; just be sure to do your research and know about specific expectations in your industry.
Now go forth and get hired!
Special thanks to our experts: Morgan (CPA), Nancy (Education), and Ross (Advertising).