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What to Wear


For men: Your shirt should be neatly pressed and clean, never too expensive (your interviewers may resent you), and in a solid color. Even if you think they accentuate your best features, avoid patterns and stripes—they are simply not formal enough for this occasion. Stick with light colors: white or blue are two most traditional and appropriate colors for interviews. Do not experiment—this is not the time for light pink, lavender, yellow, or light green. Regardless of what is in style, these colors are never appropriate to wear to an interview. Although some candidates may get away with wearing a striped shirt, if someone says, “Hey, cool-looking shirt,” then it is probably too much. Wearing a white undershirt to interviews is considered good etiquette, and it will prevent you from sweating through if you become nervous. The best undershirt for this occasion is a cotton crewneck.

Finally, stick with regular cuffs, which look more traditional and less flashy than their French counterparts. If you must wear a shirt with French cuffs, wear it with plain button cufflinks—nothing fancy. Efforts to dazzle your interviewers will almost always backfire. Remember who your audience is. Most of your interviewers are at least 10 to 20 years your senior. When they interviewed for jobs, plain traditional shirts and suits were the only acceptable interview attire. Accordingly, the less you stand out, the better.

For women: The rule is the same as for men. Stick with light, solid colors. If you insist on wearing stripes, choose a shirt with very light stripes. Avoid ruffled or low-cut blouses, which can trigger a negative reaction. If you are interviewing during the summer, consider wearing a short-sleeved shirt to reduce sweating. But keep in mind that although a short-sleeved shirt is an effective way to escape the summer heat, it is still unacceptable to many conservative interviewers. So remember to keep your jacket on at all times. Attorneys in cities such as Orlando, Dallas, and Kansas City will tell you that they do not want to see candidates wearing anything less than a long-sleeved shirt. Ellen, an associate at a regional firm, told us about a summer associate candidate who almost did not get an offer because she wore a short-sleeved shirt to an interview. Although the candidate appeared well-dressed at first, when she took off her jacket at her lunch interview, the interviewers were not at all pleased to discover she was wearing a short-sleeved shirt underneath.

Some women believe that tank tops and T-shirts are entirely appropriate for interviews in warmer climates, and that sweaters are appropriate for cold weather. We advise against this, and here is why: We once overheard a conversation between two judges about a woman who wore a tank top to a clerkship interview. One judge remarked, “She is not fooling anyone. I know that's a tank top she is wearing underneath her jacket. Is she too careless, or is she too lazy to iron her shirt?” Although it is more acceptable for women attorneys to wear T-shirts, tank tops, or sweaters to the office, candidates interviewing for law jobs do not have this luxury. Accordingly, do not follow this trend until you actually have a job. At best, you will look unprofessional; at worst, the interviewer will assume that you do not care enough about the position because you did not bother to dress appropriately.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsWhat to Wear - Dress Conservatively, Wear A Traditional Suit, Just Say No To Business Casual, Shirts, Ties