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Dress for Success for Your Interview

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There are many things that contribute to your college experience -- social groups, academic organizations, classes, professors, part-time jobs, athletics, music, art, family, majors; the list is endless. As a college student, chances are you're taking anywhere from 12 to 18 credit hours, working 15 to 35 hours per week, participating in on-campus activities and finding time to have a social life. In other words, college students are busy, stressed out and often coming down from a caffeine kick.

On top of everything, college students are expected to seek out, apply and get into an internship program. It is crucial for entering the real world and finding a job that is enjoyable and relevant and which provides a pretty penny. While most students understand the need to look nice for an interview, many try to find ways to stand out in the most tasteless ways possible.

The point of an interview isn't to shock a future employer with those huge hoop earrings you bought for $7 or to blind them with a neon yellow tie or shirt you thought you could simmer down with a blazer. No, the point of an interview is to have them take you seriously as soon as you walk through the door and then wow them with all of your academic success and previous work experiences.

First impressions are key.

Deciding what to wear to an interview is always difficult. People often stress about not wanting to be too dressy but not wanting to be under-dressed either. The best piece of advice I have ever heard is "it's better to be overdressed than under-dressed."

And that couldn't be truer. It is better for you to go into an interview looking polished and prepared, because it shows a potential employer you take pride in looking professional. I know some people who will go out and buy a new outfit for one interview at a company they don't even remember applying for. This is completely unnecessary; there are staple items every man and woman should keep in their closet for times like these.

1. The blazer or jacket

Wearing a blazer to an interview is always a safe bet and something you should keep in your closet. One thing to always check for is the fit. You don't want it to be so big you have to wiggle your hand out of the sleeve for a handshake, but you also do not want it to be so small that it pulls or rips at the seams when you reach for your resume. This is also not the item that should be your pop of color -- keep it simple with black, navy or grey.

2. The pants

Wear dress pants that are nicely tailored to your body shape. Here you should pay attention to the length as well as how they fit through your rear and thighs. The last thing you want to do is trip into the office or have the pants rip down the middle or fall down. And, an interview is not the time to wear leggings or jeans, even if they are black.

3. The shirt

The shirt or blouse you wear is where you can tastefully show off part of your personality. Wear the color that best suits your skin tone -- except for orange; nobody looks good in orange.

For men, wear a button-up dress shirt that has been ironed; yes, people notice those things. And for ladies, pick a more modest shirt. No, not a turtle neck, but when it comes to cleavage, less is more in this case. You want to give off the vibe that you are professional.

4. The shoes

What you wear on your feet really does matter! If you walk in with scuffed up shoes that are caked in mud and a size too big, chances are any future employment for you is out the door.

Pick a sensible pair of shoes that you feel comfortable wearing and that goes with the rest of your ensemble (as in don't mix brown shoes with black pants, or black shoes with brown or navy pants). If you don't know how to walk in high heels, stick to flats. It will save you a lot of embarrassment and, in the end, give you more confidence.

5. The accessories

It is important not to go overboard when it comes to how you accessorize. I would suggest both men and women have a decent dressy watch. For men, ties are always good and really pull the whole look together.

For women, a simple necklace and small earrings will do. Also, if you have an obnoxiously patterned or colored purse, leave it at home. Opt for a cleaner style that presents you in the most professional and fashionable way possible.

Confidence is the key when it comes to successful interviews, and part of that confidence comes with what you wear. So take the time to find an outfit that best compliments your personality as well as the idea that you are serious about wanting that internship.

Great places to check out for professional clothing are department stores such as Younkers or JCPenney, Loft, and White House Black Market. 

By: Olivia Kaiser, University of Iowa