Dressing the Part: What to Wear to an Interview

By Julia Park and Jenny HaleMarch 20, 2017

Soldier For Life -- Transition Assistance Program
The Washington State Military Transition Council gathered on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Aug. 8, to hear from service members and Soldier For Life -- Transition Assistance Program coordinators in an effort to continue to streamline the tran... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Knox, Kentucky - Soldiers do not have to think much about what they are going to wear when they wake up in the morning for duty. When a Soldier is transitioning off of Army active duty, this may not be the case. The civilian sector has a wide range of options for daily civilian work attire, which can be difficult to navigate during transition.

Shopping for new clothing does not have to be expensive. There are many stores that sell professional work-appropriate suits, skirts, and blouses. It is recommended to offset the initial cost of a new wardrobe by spreading out purchases over several months.

For a job interview, the rule of thumb is to normally dress one level higher than what the employees would wear on a normal day at the office, but don't wear jeans. For corporate interviews, both men and women should wear a suit. During casual interviews, men could wear dress pants and a button-down shirt with a tie, while women might wear a dress or a skirt/dress pants with a dressy blouse. Women's tops should always be conservative (no low tops, flashy jewelry, non-neutral hair or makeup, etc.) and skirts should be knee-length.

For women and men, regardless of whether the interview is corporate or casual, conservative is always best. Consider wearing neutral colors, such as navy, gray, or black. Wear solid colors or very simple patterns.

The same can be said for makeup. If an applicant is going to wear makeup to an interview, keep it modest. Hair can be left down or pulled up into a professional bun and earrings should also be non-distracting and simple.

Be sure to research the company before picking out an outfit. Applicants that know someone who works at the organization can ask them what would be appropriate to wear, or job seekers can ask what the daily attire is like during the phone interview.

Remember an interview is still a formal process and applicants should dress appropriately.

First impressions are lasting and an interviewer usually gets their sense of an applicant's professionalism during the first few minutes of the meeting.

The Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program, or SFL-TAP, assists transitioning Soldiers with their civilian careers and offers tips to those looking to interview with organizations. Transitioning Soldiers are encouraged to start SFL-TAP 18 months prior to transition or 24 months prior for retirees. To learn more about the program, visit www.sfl-tap.army.mil or contact a local SFL-TAP Center.

Editor's Note: Article was originally published in the Turret in January 2008 by Julia Park and named "Business attire important part of interviews."

Related Links:

Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program