Interviewing Etiquette

How you present yourself to potential employers is an important part of the interview process. Here are some tips to help you be prepared.

Dressing for the Interview

Your primary goal in dressing for an interview is to feel good about the way you look while projecting an image that matches the requirements of the position and company.

Guidelines for Women Guidelines for Men
Suits, Dresses: Conservative business suit, pantsuit, or dress of natural or woven-blend fabric; skirt length should be to the bottom of the knee at least. Choose a color that complements your skin tone and hair color; beige, black, navy, or gray. Make sure your clothes are not too tight or too loose. Suits: Preferred dark blue, gray, or muted pin-stripes. Muted brown or black also acceptable. A quality woven blend of natural fibers looks professional. Avoid bold pin-stripes, contrasting slacks and sport coat, or light colors.
Blouses or tops: Simple style. Avoid low-cut necklines or very frilly styles. Shirts: A nice quality white button-down or white classic collar is preferred. Oxford blue or a muted stripe is also acceptable. Be sure it is ironed.
Shoes: Polished pumps or medium heels in color that matches your outfit. Shoes: Highly polished slip-ons or laced dress shoes; brown, cordovan, or black.
Stockings: Beige, tan, or natural. Avoid patterns or lacy stockings. Ties are a MUST: Conservative stripes or paisleys that complement your suit. Silk or good quality blends only.
Purse: Not necessary, but if you bring one it should be of small or medium size in a color that goes with your outfit.

Guidelines for Both Women and Men

  • Avoid unkempt hair or over-the-top hairstyles
  • Avoid excessive perfume or cologne
  • Manicure nails and clean hands

Business Casual Attire

Business casual does not mean casual. For men, a business casual wardrobe consists of long-sleeved cotton oxford shirts, cotton polo or golf shirts, pants (non-denim: khaki, dark blue, olive green or stone) and a sport coat. For women, shirts or blouses are acceptable, sweaters or knit tops will also work. Pants should be non-denim fabrics that complement the top. A fashionable jacket is always a nice touch.

When setting up the interview it is okay to ask what is appropriate to wear.

Preparing for the Interview

Bring along a carry-on bag, briefcase, or computer bag which includes information you may need such as:

  • Copies of your CV
  • Application materials and job announcement
  • Examples of teaching materials (sample syllabi, lists of class you have taught, etc.)
  • Dissertation abstract and research plan
  • Papers you have published
  • Notes about your interviewers (who they are, what they do)

Make sure to include emergency items such as:

  • Non-perishable snacks – you don’t want your stomach growling if you haven’t been able to eat much at lunches when you are doing most of the talking.
  • Umbrella – it is hard to be yourself if you are self-conscious about soaked hair or clothes.
  • Back-up items that will help you get through without any major issues (e.g., alarm clock, ear plugs, mini sewing kit, individual stain removers (“Shout Wipes”), band-aids, extra contact lenses, glasses, tissues, allergy medications, eye drops, etc.).

Other Considerations:

  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early for your interview.
  • Make eye contact with people you meet and have a firm handshake.
  • Make polite conversation/chit chat at the beginning of the interview.
  • Don’t apologize about your background or lack of experience.
  • Be yourself but always stress the positive.
  • Don’t assume the employer or hiring committee has read your CV or resume.

Thank you notes:

  • Make sure to thank the search committee chair for his/her time and effort.
  • Thank specific committee members, graduate students, and administrators with whom you might want to follow-up with. Although they may not expect a thank you not, this may help when you become a future colleague.
  • Keep notes professional but friendly. If you learned something about the position that fits your qualifications particularly well, be sure to mention it.