Beyond the Suit: Personal Appearance for an Interview

You finally have a promising interview lined up. You have your resumes printed and ready to go. You have researched the company and position. You have mapped out the route to the interview location and know how long it will take to get there. You know you’re going to look great because you have your interview suit dry-cleaned and ready to go. Your shoes and accessories are carefully matched.

Great! But you’re not quite ready yet. We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover. However, the reality is that in the professional world your appearance is closely scrutinized – especially at a job interview. But personal appearance goes beyond just the clothes you are wearing. Follow these tips to be seen in the best possible light by potential employers.

  • Men
    • Be as clean-cut as possible, with a recent trim.
    • Shave! If you wear facial hair, keep it well groomed.
    • Go easy on the after-shave.
    • Trim and clean fingernails.
    • Wear a conservative watch.
  • Women
    • Aim for a neat, low-key hairstyle.
    • Keep jewelry to a minimum.
    • Apply makeup conservatively.
    • If you bring a handbag, choose one that is small and simple.
    • Avoid brightly colored and/or overly long nails.
  • Everyone
    • Facial piercings are not well received in professional environments. Take them out.
    • Go very light on perfumes and colognes, or don’t use them at all.
    • Don’t smell like smoke.
    • Cover up all tattoos if possible.


Your personal appearance is just as important in an interview as your education, training and work experience. Make it a priority and go get that job!

WAI Staff

Whitman Associates is a professional staffing agency serving businesses and job seekers in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 1972, we’ve been dedicated to matching highly qualified candidates with a wide variety of temporary, temp-to-hire and permanent positions. We prioritize the needs of both our clients and candidates to ensure successful, lasting relationships.