Dress for success: Winning interview attire

BYU senior Rex McArthur interviews for summer internship in a fitted, navy suit. (Maddi Driggs)

It’s important to dress up for a job interview even though workplace attire in many places has gotten decidedly more casual, according to Associate Director of BYU Career advancement services Colton Griffiths.

Griffiths said the most important interview-related decision students make is deciding what to wear to an interview. He believes the way an interviewee dresses says more about who they are than what they say.

“Dressing up for an interview is not an indication of what you’re going to wear to work every day,” Griffiths said. “It’s an indication of how bad you want the job and how professional you want to come across.”

Junior Shaye Smith looks “business formal” in a button-down dress shirt, pencil skirt and heels. (Claire Anderson)

An interviewee should usually be dressed better than the interviewer, according to Griffiths. He explained “business formal” is appropriate for almost any interview.

He said men should wear a shirt and tie. Suits are not required, but strongly encouraged. For women, Griffiths said to “dress a step up from how you dress for church.” He suggested women wear either a pencil skirt or dress suit.

BYU students agreed that their appearance affects their interview success. Rex McArthur, a BYU senior studying applied and computation mathematics, said when he looks good, he feels good.

“I think dressing well creates this aura of ‘I take care of myself’ and therefore I present myself in a better way,” McArthur said.

Kurtis Murray, a BYU senior studying accounting, said he would rather overdress for an interview and feels his best when dressed professionally.

“For me, I feel a lot more confident when I don’t have to worry about how I look or how I present myself,” Murray said.

BYU junior Shaye Smith said the way a person dresses reflects the way they act.

“Dressing well for an interview is important because it will help you act more professional and mature,” Smith said.

Senior Rex McArthur recently interviewed at MIT, Raytheon and Intel. (Maddi Driggs)

Griffiths said students should plan ahead to make sure they look their best before an interview. He also said students should arrive early and check their appearance in a bathroom mirror before going into the interview.

William West, CEO of SilverVue in Sandy said revealing clothing can negatively impact an interview.

“If it is distracting to the interview it is not helpful for that person to get hired,” West said.

Jewelry, hair and makeup can also be distracting. Interviewees should stay away from jewelry that makes noise during movement. Hair should be well-kept, and makeup should remain simple, he said.

“Ask yourself, ‘Does my appearance distract from my qualifications? Are they going to remember me for my answers to my questions or are they going to remember me for the way that I look?'” Griffiths said.

West said an interviewee’s grooming standards are even more important than their clothing.

“If a man or a woman came in and was not well-groomed, it would not speak highly to their ability to represent the company well,” West said.“I wouldn’t guess they were driven or organized.”

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