Interview Etiquette and Appearance

What to Wear  
Interviews Abroad


Ordering Meals

  • Order an appropriate meal.
  • Do not order the most expensive dish.
  • Do not order before your host.
  • Do not order food that is likely to splatter (e.g. pasta), food that takes too long to chew (e.g. steak) or anything that is difficult to eat easily (e.g. chicken on the bone). Chicken breasts and fish are safe bets.


  • Be aware of your alcohol intake. A one drink limit is recommended, if any.
  • It is okay at a bar or club, to have a drink in your hand that is not alcoholic. Don't feel pressured to drink.
  • Drink beer from a glass; don't send the wine back because you don't like the taste, and when drinking a mixed drink use the stirrer to stir, not as a straw.

Table Manners

  • Wait until everyone is seated before touching anything on the table.
  • Put your napkin on your lap when everyone is seated. When leaving the table during the meal place it on your chair. At the end of the meal place it loosely to the left of your plate. Do not refold it.
  • Do not begin eating until everyone is served, except if you are asked to begin by the others.
  • Use the correct dishes and utensils.

During the Meal

  • Taste before seasoning.
  • Your bread is to your left, and your drinks are to your right.
  • When eating bread break the bread into one piece at a time and butter as you go. It should be small enough to fit in your mouth. You do not butter the entire roll. Likewise, cut your food one piece at a time.
  • Use silverware going from the outside in and use the utensils at the top of your plate last. Once you use a utensil it should not touch the table again.
  • While eating, keep your knife across the top of your plate. Once you are finished eating, place the knife and fork across your plate as if they are pointing to the numbers 10 and 4 on a clock face.




What you wear to an interview depends a great deal on the industry and organization. While in most situations a suit would be most appropriate, there are instances where something less formal would be better. In fact, in some instances, what you wear is actually an indication of how well you understand the industry or how well you would fit there; for example, your sense of personal style if interviewing for a major retailer or your understanding of the work culture if interviewing at some place like Microsoft. Ultimately, however, you want to be remembered for the stories you can tell about your skills and experiences that show how valuable you will be in the new role, not necessarily for what you are wearing. Whatever you choose should not distract from you.

Career Services partners with Career Wardrobe, a nonprofit second-hand boutique in Philadelphia, to provide Penn FGLI students free professional attire. If interested, visit Handshake for more information:
For additional information, you may contact Anne Marie Dickinson at

General interviewing tips: Here are some general tips for appropriate interview attire that will give you a good place to start as you think about what you will wear. When in doubt, always err on the more conservative recommendations of this table. For information on gender inclusive professional attire, click here and here.




  • Two piece suit (ideal is solid navy or grey)
  • Solid/pinstripe/glen plaid suit in black/navy/gray (skirtsuit or pantsuit)
  • Separate blazer/pants/skirt combo (might be more appropriate for creative field)

Shirt or Blouse

  • Solid White or Blue Shirt (starched)
  • Plain or Spread Collar
  • Pinpoint or Broadcloth material
  • White or pastel blouse (in less conservative fields, brighter colors are fine)
  • Silk or Cotton material


  • Shoes: Black lace-ups with leather soles
  • Belt: Should match shoes in color & shine
  • Tie: Conservative pattern/color in silk
  • Socks: Should match pants in color (no white socks!)
  • Bag: Don't use a bookbag/ knapsack!
  • Watch: Conservative, non-sports look
  • Shoes: Dark leather pumps are ideal; Open toed shoes/sandals are not appropriate!
  • Jewelry: Should be subtle and minimal
  • Bag: Briefcase or a tote, not a bookbag


  • Hair: Invest in a good haircut (shorter is better)
  • Nails: Clean
  • Cologne: minimal
  • Hair: Well groomed hairstyle
  • Nails: Conservative color polish
  • Perfume: Minimal



For interviews with foreign firms/organizationsin U.S. offices, for jobs abroad, and for U.S. jobs where staff members may use culturally-specific social customs, research the cultures and traditions of that country or group.





'   Shirt or BlouseSocks ' Should match pants in color (no white socks!)