University of Pittsburgh

Dressing for an Interview

Perhaps you have scheduled an informational interview or your resume worked and now you have a job interview. You have done your homework. You can answer anything the interviewer throws at you. The big day arrives and a final important choice must be made. What should you wear?

How you look has everything to do with the first impression you make. Law students often dress too casually for an interview, which sends the signal that you do not take the interview or the job seriously.  We understand that many firms and public interest organizations have adopted casual dress policies and that you may not frequently wear your suit on the job.  However, employers are more likely going to trust you with a position of leadership if they can “see” you in it.


  • Look clean and neat. Make sure that your hair is done appropriately. Women - do not wear wild hairstyles.  Men - get a trim of head and facial hair.
  • Avoid perfume or cologne as many people are allergic. 
  • Cover any tattoos and avoid flashy jewelry. Limit pierced jewelry to ears only. Do not wear body jewelry unless it is a part of an ethnic tradition.


  • Wear a suit or sport jacket with color coordinated trousers in neutral or dark colors - blue, black or gray is best
  • NEVER fasten the bottom button of your suit coat
  • ALWAYS unbutton your jacket when you sit down to avoid having the shoulders ride up
  •  Wear a tie - even if you will never wear one after you get the job
  • Learn to tie a tie properly
  • ALWAYS button your top shirt button
  • NEVER go into an interview with your tie loosened
  • Shoes should be leather (or leather like), clean and polished.  Black is best and remember to wear a belt as well
  • Wear a pressed dress shirt, neutral in color, such as white or blue
  • Avoid wearing more than 2 patterned garments at a time (e.g. if you are wearing a pinstriped suit and a paisley tie, wear a solid shirt)
  • Make sure your nails are trimmed and clean


  • Wear a classic suit (a jacket with skirt, dress or trousers). This is not a time to be provocative or sexy. Some appropriate colors are navy blue, black, dark green, burgundy, or gray.
  • Caveat:  trousers are generally acceptable unless you are interviewing with a judge or older interviewer.  Some local rules of court contain prohibitions against women wearing pant suits when they appear in court.  (Really!)
  • Avoid wearing clothes that are tight, revealing or trendy. It may be the very latest fashion but it will not impress the interviewer
  • Wear a shirt or blouse with a modest neckline; avoid wearing a blouse that gaps or bunches across the front 
  • Wear appropriate undergarments, i.e. those that do not show through your blouse or suit pants
  • ALWAYS wear nylons under a skirt or dress and appropriate footwear with pants.  Leave the open-toed shoes, stiletto or platform heels for another occasion
  • Fingernails should be trimmed and polish should be a light color that will not distract the interviewer

Even after you are successful in getting the job, you should continue to pay attention to your wardrobe. Interviewing for the job is only the beginning in the role clothing will play in your career:  even after you have the summer position, you might like to be considered for advancement or full-time employment. The impression you leave on the job every day will be added to your performance when the boss looks around for someone to hire.

Revised 09/28/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC