How to suit up for a successful job interview

By Joanna Guberow


Résumés and cover letters aside, making a good first impression at a job interview is essential to landing that job or internship position. Being the best dressed candidate will make you stand out and the interviewer may even remember you better after you leave. Your appearance should make you look and feel confident, motivated and impressive.

Every college student should own at least one good suit, especially those nearing graduation.

For men, the suit jacket should rest neatly across your shoulders. With your arms at your side, the sleeves should be straight down. You should be able to bring your arms up before you. Keep in mind that suits aren’t going to be always comfortable, so it may be a little snug when you do this. The sleeve of the jacket should go no further than the knuckle of your thumb. When you buttoned, there should be just enough room to put your hand into the jacket between the buttons.

Pants should touch the floor when you stand without shoes on. There are pleated and flat front options. Flat front suit pants are a more youthful option compared to your dad’s pleats. For guys who want a little more comfort, though, pleats may be for you.

A white shirt is traditional, but other colors such as blues will help make you stand out. Don’t bust out the purples or greens until at least your second interview. You want to look professional.

If white is a little too boring for you, try a black shirt with a gray suit or a gray shirt with a black suit. It’s a little understated, but clean. Whether or not you should keep it basic depends on what company you are interviewing for. A corporation will appreciate traditional, while a design company might be looking for some creativity.

Now before you get overwhelmed with the all of the shirt options, remember that a tie is going to make a difference. Depending on the collar of your shirt, there are three knots to consider: the Windsor knot, the half-Windsor knot, and the four-in-hand knot. Most standard shirts will have the “traditional” collar, with which the four-in-hand-knot fits best. This is a very common style amongst American executives, so if you’re interviewing for a big corporation or firm, this is most likely what will be expected of you.

The four-in-hand knot is the simplest of tie knots. Start with the wide end of your right, and extend it a foot past the narrow end. Cross the wide end over the narrow end and underneath, and over once again. Then slip the tie end through the neck loop, and tuck into the small loop you have just formed. Tighten until it rests just below the first button or your shirt. If you want a little more movement in your neck, leave the first button undone, and then tighten and adjust the tie. You usually can’t tell whether you have the first button done or not this way.

The Windsor knot and the half-Windsor knot are a variation on the four-in-hand knot. The half-Windsor knot is slightly more even-looking than the four-in-hand knot, and some guys prefer it. It is a little more professional looking. Opt for this one to impress. If you are a broader guy, try the Windsor knot. It is a bigger knot that will balance out better with your body. Go to to practice all of these knots.

Remember, having an exceptional résumé and cover letter is just as important as the suit you’ll be wearing the day of your interview. Don’t forget to shake hands with everyone you meet, smile, and bring questions to your interview. Dressing well, and impressing them with your charm might just land you the job of your dreams.

Joanna Guberow can be reached at [email protected]