What to Wear and How to Prepare
Employers want you prepared. The following information will get you started. Click on each heading to expand the section.
For more advice, check out the resources linked on this page, WITs Happening Blog Posts, and WITworks Radio Show Recordings. Please reach out with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, stop by the office at 101 Wentworth Hall, or call us at (617) 989-4101.
When talking about attire, grooming, or presentation in regard to job fairs and interviews, people use generic language such as ‘professional’, ‘business casual’, or ‘smart dress’ that can often lead to confusion, discriminatory standards, and/or be ambiguous. This guide is meant to clarify some of that ambiguity and offer you some direction, when preparing. Whatever your gender expression and personal style may be, THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is that you should put your best and most authentic self forward.
- Suits or blazer & pant/skirt/dress combination is encouraged- especially if you are interviewing (in-person or remotely).
- Avoid transparent or sheer clothing.
- Shirts, polos, or blouses, should be tucked in.
- Accessories- ties, jewelry, scarves, pocket squares- are a great way to showcase your personality and dress-up an outfit. Just keep in mind- sometimes less is more.
- Dress pants, khakis/chinos, and dark pants are a good alternative to a full suit/dress/skirt.
- Skirts and dresses are a great option for interviews, just be mindful of overly formal options which may not be appropriate for an interview- like prom gowns and party attire.
- Dress shoes, loafers/boat shoes, flats, or sensible heels are the best choices, but other clean, dark color footwear can be used as an alternative.
- If you are wearing pants that have belt loops and your shirt is tucked in, you should be wearing a belt.
- Showering, combing/styling your hair, and using appropriate hygiene are important.
- Your clothes should be wrinkle free!
- Please be mindful when wearing cologne, perfumes, aftershave, deodorants, or other products with fragrances- some people can have severe allergic reactions to certain or strong scents.
- Regardless of an organization’s day-to-day culture or ‘vibe’, career fairs and interviews are occasions where employers want to see the best version of you. You may be able to wear a t-shirt after you get hired 😊.
- Distracting clothing, accessories, or grooming can potentially shift the employer’s focus away from your skills and qualifications. So keep that in mind.
- Ties aren’t mandatory, but can help an outfit stand out more, especially if you are not wearing a blazer/suit jacket.
- If possible, try to match the color of your belt to the color of your shoes.
- Dress socks or pantyhose/tights aren’t mandatory but can help you look less casual.
- The goal is for the employer to focus their attention on your skills and qualifications.
- If you don’t own/can’t find an iron, put your clothes in a dryer with a damp towel for 5-10 minutes, take the clothes out immediately (don’t leave them sitting in the dryer), and lay them out flat. This should lessen the appearance of wrinkles.
- If you haven’t showered and can’t get home before your event/interview, the Schuman Fitness Center has free shower facilities you can use-including a towel!
- Jeans and leggings are often perceived as ‘unprofessional’. If this is your only option, darker colors and no tears/holes, paired with a dress shirt/blouse are best.
- If you wear a short-sleeve polo shirt, we recommend tucking it in, especially if you are not wearing a blazer/suit jacket.
- Your hair/facial hair’s style, texture, color, length is NOT up for discussion by an employer. If this happens to you, politely inform them you are not comfortable discussing it and share the experience with the Human Resources department of the company and/or the staff at CO-OPS + CAREERS office.
Things to Avoid
- Sheer, mesh, or transparent fabrics
- Torn clothing
Combine many of the following components to create your introduction:
- Greeting & Education: include your first and last name, your class year and major.
- Opportunities you are seeking: mention the specific position that they are hiring for or a type of role you are interested in.
- Relevant Experience: reference related experience to the specific job you want and mention any co-ops and/or projects.
- Highlights of Skills & Strengths: share skills you possess that are related to the qualifications.
- Knowledge of company: do research about the company beforehand and ask a question that cannot be easily answered from their website.
A great resume is easy to scan, highlights accomplishments, and concisely details your abilities.
- Include a professional sounding email address (email@example.com)
- Linked your LinkedIn, Github, portfolio, and personal website.
- Education remains at the top if you are currently a student.
- If you transferred in, you may or may not include your previous school depending on its relevance or if you earned a degree.
- List your degree as it appears on your transcript, including minors and concentrations.
- Include your GPA, if it is at or above 3.0, and any academic honors.
Related Courses – subsection of Education
- List 5-10 in order of relevance and consider dropping pre-requisite courses.
- List and categorize your hard skills. Programs? Software? Devices? Languages? Test instruments? Lab equipment? Operating systems? Design? Field? Digital? Building technology?
- List your accomplishments using action verbs to highlight your skills with the tools you used when possible.
- Bullet format if preferred as it makes your resume easy to skim.
- Quantify when possible to make your point.
- Ex.: “Collaborated with four-person team to achieve three times original power output based on simulator results for a small manufacturer of electronics.”
Be prepared to answer key interview questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why are you interested in this position?
- How have you prepared yourself for this position?
- Why should we hire you?
- What do you know about this company/department?
- What are your professional goals?
- What’s the most difficult challenge you have faced in life?
Be prepared to give answers to questions, even if the employer doesn’t ask them. Remember, always provide examples of your work, skills and abilities.
- Speak slowly, clearly and enunciate.
- If you didn’t understand the question, you can ask the interviewer for clarification, to repeat, or to rephrase the question.
- If you need time to think about your answer, you can say, “What an interesting question! Let me think about that for a moment.”
- If they ask you something that you don’t know, it is okay to say, “I don’t know, but I will look into that and get back to you.” Then provide the answer in your thank you note.
- The first time they ask you about salary, don’t let them make it about the money. Say something like: “For me, it is not about compensation, I am more interested in the development opportunity.” If they ask you again, never give a number, always give a range.
- Take notes during your interview. They will be useful when writing your thank you note, and it indicates that you are diligent and interested in the position.
- Include at least one question that demonstrates that you’ve done research on the company.