Dressing for a Professional Interview: Millennial Edition

interview dress code - shirt and tie - no coat

Born between 1981 and 2000, millennials in the U.S. number 76 million, one million more than the 75 million baby boomers.  The oldest members of this generation are in their mid-thirties, while the youngest members are still in their teens. Some are securely in the job force, but many have yet to enter. In any case, millennials will dominate the American workforce for years to come.

With so many members of this generation out there, the competition for employment is fierce. One way to gain an edge is to know how to dress for a job interview. According to hiring managers, the biggest mistake millennials make when interviewing is wearing inappropriate attire. Nothing can kill an interview faster than making a poor first impression. 

So, what should one wear? Much of it depends on the job, but a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of being overdressed. This is particularly true of office jobs. 


A Pantsuit or Skirt

interviewing professional millennial in suit

Magazine articles debate whether a woman should wear a pantsuit rather than a skirt and a blazer to an interview. Some hiring managers might not have an issue with pantsuits, but others might. Why take the chance? Follow the rule of thumb: overdress - go with a tailored blazer and a matching skirt. A skirt is more traditional than pants, and nothing is more traditional than an office. 

Do not wear skinny jeans, yoga pants or loud prints. Do not let tattoos go uncovered.

Do not wear a mini-skirt. The skirt length should end at the knee. An office job interview is no place to show off thighs.

The Color

Choose a dark suit color: navy, blue, and black are always a safe bet. Avoid bright pinks, yellows and oranges.

The Blouse

Keep the blouse color somewhat muted. Dark green, purple, gray or white work well. Either a crew neckline or a V-neckline is appropriate, but do not expose any cleavage.

The Shoes

interview dress code - ladies' black heels

The shoes should match the suit and have a closed toe with low heels, preferably less than an inch tall. Polish the footwear so that there are no scuffs or scratches.

Do not wear sandals, tennis shoes or boots. None of these are appropriate for an office setting.

The Jewelry

Tasteful, understated jewelry is the way to go. This might include a traditional watch, a small pair of earrings and a simple necklace.

Avoid long, dangling earrings, jangling bracelets, too many rings and large necklaces. Visible piercings are usually not a good idea.


The Suit  

interview dress code - men's suit and tie

Men should wear a suit. Even in today's casual fashion world, the suit remains the preferred attire for an office job interview. A nicely tailored suit always makes a better impression than an ill-fitting one.

The Color

A dark suit color is the best choice. Navy blue is always appropriate. It is both traditional and professional. 

Avoid brown, gray and light-colored suits, even in summer. Never wear a seer sucker suit to an interview. 

The Shoes, Socks and Belt

dress code - men's black dress shoes

A navy-blue suit requires polished, black dress shoes. A black belt is a good finishing touch. 

Do not wear brown shoes with a navy-blue suit. Do not wear boots, Vans, sandals or any shoe other than a nice dress shoe. Keep the funky socks at home. 

The Tie

This accessory is what makes the outfit and creates an image in the hiring manager's mind. A tie speaks volumes. Blue conveys trust and stability. Yellow exudes confidence and intelligence. Green symbolizes reliability and practicality. Any of these will work well for a first interview.

Avoid bow ties and bolo ties. They indicate a lack of seriousness. Do not wear an open collar.  

dress code suit & tie

Dressing well for an interview conveys respect and seriousness. If a hiring manager has to choose between a millennial wearing a plunging neckline and tight jeans or one in a tasteful skirt and blazer, he will take the latter every time. If his choice is between a millennial in a tee-shirt and cargo pants or one in a nicely tailored suit and a power tie, he will always take the second option. Landing a job is tough, but you can make it easier by dressing appropriately for the interview.

Ready, Set, Go!

When you are ready to move forward with your job search, contact Brannon Professionals, 662-349-9194. Our professional staff is standing by and looks forward to working for you.