Dress to Impress affects future student careers


Director of Career Services Ilene Odegard talks to students at Dress to Impress on Thursday night in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. Photo by Nicholas Nelson/The Dakota Student.

They say you never get a second chance at a first impression, and nowhere is that more true than when applying for a job. Dress to Impress was an event hosted Thursday night in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl, and it taught attending students the dos and don’ts of the job interview process.

The event was hosted by director of Career Services Ilene Odegard and Assistant Manager of a local Verizon Wireless Carrie Lee, and information was never in short supply.

Both women have given countless interviews, and were eager to offer tips on how to do your best when being interviewed.

“I like when people ask what to wear to the interview ahead of time,” Lee said. “It shows they are prepared.”

As a rule of thumb, it is best to wear business casual attire to a job interview. This typically means a knee-length skirt with a conservative top for women, and corduroy or dress pants and a collared shirt for men.

“It is important that everything is pressed and ironed,” Odegard said.

Even the color of your shirt must be taken into consideration. Black and blue are known as “power colors” and give off a sense of in-control and loyalty, two attributes that are very important in a job interview.

“It was interesting to learn what specific colors you should wear,” Junior Jessica Johnson said. “You can’t stand out for the wrong reason.”

While it is very important to know what to wear to an interview, it may be more important to know what not to wear.

“Jeans don’t cut it,” Lee said. “It makes the person being interviewed seem like they won’t take the job seriously.”

For men, the tie you wear can make or break your job opportunity. It is in your best interest to wear a neutral colored tie, and to avoid anything that is too out of the ordinary. Lee even went so far as to say she did not like memorable ties.

“Avoid wearing revealing attire, and never go sleeveless,” Odegard said, while going over what women should avoid wearing. “Also, don’t wear chunky bracelets.”

Though it may be obvious, it is certainly worth your time to be sure you have properly buttoned your shirt before an interview.

“I have actually had people come into interviews with their shirts wrongly buttoned,” Lee said. “It makes it look like they are not very put together in their personal lives, so they must not be put together in their professional lives.”

An important non-clothes item that should be brought to an interview is a portfolio with an extra copy of your resume, even if your interviewer already has a copy. Everything else, including cell phones, handbags, and backpacks, should not be in the room with you.

“It really surprised me that you shouldn’t bring in a nice purse,” said Junior Asia Laudal.

Body language is another important part of a job interview. Greeting your interviewer with a strong, firm handshake is a great way to show confidence. Maintaining proper eye contact is also vital, as it shows you are interested in what the interviewer has to say. However, prolonged eye contact can seem threatening.

“Keep eye contact, and practice your smile,” Odegard said. “Don’t smile the whole time though, that’s just creepy.”

While proper dressing for interviews was the focus of the event, Lee and Odegard also went over the importance of dressing up for job fairs.

“Don’t come in street clothes,” advised Lee. “We had a Verizon representative go to the last job fair at UND, and only one student had dressed up for the event. The name of the student was the only name the rep remembered.”

Brendan McCabe is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].