How to Dress for Career Success

The true first impression you make at an interview is a visual one based on what you’re wearing. Your hard work and thorough preparation can be dismantled almost instantaneously if you’re not correctly dressed. Wearing the right outfit shows you’re taking the opportunity seriously, you understand the company, and you’re respecting people’s time.

So, what’s the key to dressing for an interview or even a job fair? There are a few different elements to consider. As with everything in this world, standard forms of practice evolve over time. At one point, it was practically mandatory for job candidates to wear a traditional business suit with dress shoes or heels.

Now, things have changed a bit, partly due to the tech industry rejecting corporate attire (think Steve Jobs). As company culture becomes a larger consideration in the world of industry, it’s more important than ever for candidates to demonstrate a full understanding of the company values. You don’t want to show any kind of disconnect.

However, you also don’t want to show up to an interview in jeans and a tee even if that’s what the employees are wearing. The idea is to show up just a tad fancier than the employees working there. Here’s some inspiration on how to achieve that. Feel free to experiment with colors, fabrics, and prints, but remember to keep things professional. If you need visual ideas, there are lots of examples online.

Company Culture: Corporate

If you’re looking to enter the world of finance or PR, for example, there’s a high likelihood the environment is corporate and formal (your pre-interview research can confirm this). As such, your clothing should reflect this. Try to keep things more modern, meaning the cuts and shapes of your outfit are current. Some options for men and women include:

Solid color suit

Shirt that pairs well with color of suit

Solid color sweater

Solid color dress or pencil skirt

Coordinating blouse

Conservative shoes (wear dark socks if needed)


Company Culture: More Relaxed

If you’re looking to enter the world of startups or tech, there’s a high likelihood the environment is more relaxed and less formal (again, pre-interview research can confirm this). As such, your clothing should reflect this. You don’t have to wear a full suit, but try to keep colors and patterns more neutral.

Casual Slacks




Less formal dress

Button up


Nice shoes

General Reminders

Regardless of whether you’re preparing for a corporate or more relaxed work environment, there are some general tips that apply to everyone:

Wear something that makes you feel confident

Light Perfume and Cologne (or none at all)

Minimal Makeup and Jewelry (don’t wear bracelets that make too much noise)

Clean hair

Clean nails

Cover any tattoos if you can

Remove face piercings (small earrings are okay) if you can

Avoid sleeveless tops and dresses, shorts, jeans, tops that are too low cut, crop tops,

You can visit a no-cost Goodwill Career Center where a dedicated career advisor can assist you with preparing for Hiring Fest by helping you update your resume, cover interview techniques, and go over general job fair etiquette. Call 602-535-4444 to find a center near you or visit our locations page.

Exciting Events this Week!

Amazing things are always happening at Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona! Whether you are looking for a daily special or want to participate in one of our job training events, we have something for you.

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