Recruiting Style Guide 101

By Kristin Cho '15

Got your killer elevator pitch ready? Countless mock interviews under your belt? Then you are almost ready. There is one last thing you want to consider before walking up to your future managers. Your appearance! According to the 2010 Newsweek study, 64% of hiring managers agree that appearance plays a factor in the hiring process – So put your best foot (and shoe!) forward.


Skirt/Pant Suit – The suit must be in matching colors (black, navy, or dark gray), and it is important to pick out a material that regains its shape easily. It should be well-fitted, slightly tapered and make you feel like Sheryl Sandberg’s boss. The jacket must remain smooth and not wrinkled even when buttoned. The pants should not be tight but have enough room to allow some movement, and the skirt must not slide up out of position when walking. The ideal length of the skirt is to mid-knee, at the most five centimeters above or below the knee (measured from the middle of the knee).

Shirt/Blouse – For most traditional recruiting occasions (Investment Banking, Consulting, Corporate, Investment Management etc.) go with a button-down shirt in white or light blue. If you feel like it’s suppressing your creativity, you need to consider a different career path. A blouse should not be too tight, and it is to be tucked inside trousers or skirt.

Shoes – Without a pair of matching, clean shoes, even the best-quality suit will not do its job! A pair of closed toed, black leather heels no higher than 7cm (3in) work best., When you are choosing shoes, remember that you will be wearing them for a long time, possibly standing for hours, so make certain that they are comfortable! Also, remember that worn heels and their clacking sound can really spoil your general appearance.

Accessories – When it comes to accessories, consider the overall impression. Small, conservative pieces are always welcomed. Leave the bangle bracelets, statement necklaces and chandelier earrings at home. Pendant necklaces should be smaller than one inch in diameter and coordinated sets (i.e. silver with silver and gold with gold) look better when you are wearing multiple accessories. If you’re worried you come off a bit unstable, a fake wedding ring can help you send the right signal.

Miscellaneous – Avoid wearing “fashionable” manicure colors such as blue, dark brown, neon, or black! Also do not over use perfume. The perfume you use must only be noticed at arm’s length or less by another person.


Suit – The single-breasted jacket with two buttons and trousers in black or navy should be your default. The shoulders must be well-fitting – if they are too broad, it will look like you are wearing your dad’s suit or if too narrow then your movement will be restricted and look like a worm. A close fit collar that doesn’t crease below the back of your neck is key.. The back slit of your jacket must not fold, and the jacket should be long enough to cover your belt. In addition, the bottom button of your jacket must be left undone and when you are sitting down, you should keep the jacket undone.

For trousers, make sure they are freshly ironed, and pant legs should gently rest on the top of the upper shoe . Also, do not carry too much in your pockets and avoid keeping a thick wallet in the back pockets of your trousers. Or if you have abundant pocket space, consider a flask to help you turn around a bad final round interview after the break.

Shirt – There is nothing sexier than a clean, pressed and well-fitted white shirt for men. When wearing a button-down shirt, your shirt collar must be loose enough to be able to place a finger between the collar and your neck, and the collar must be between 1-1.5 centimeters above the collar of your jacket. The cuffs should not be too loose, and the sleeve should extend 1.5-2.5 centimeters below the cuff of your jacket. Leave the breast pocket empty.

Tie – A right color tie can help convey your confidence and professionalism. Choose solids over patterns - you’re not trying to convey your superior eye for artistic masterpieces here. Small patterns like thin pinstripes are okay as well, but the rule of thumb is to go with a pattern that is small enough that it looks like a solid from across a room. Also, choose neutral over brights. You do not want to distract recruiters when you are talking!

Shoes – Your shoes need to match the color of your belt, and it is best to choose black or brown lace-up leather brogues, Oxfords or Derby shoes (or steeled toe shoes so that you can kick the competition out the door). It is better to avoid wearing shoes without laces, shoes with a pattern or shoes with buckles. Also make sure your shoes are clean!

Tips for non-traditional recruiting

Tech – Recruiting for tech has a much less formal dress code; however, it is recommended to go with business casual (to be on the safe side) unless strongly specified otherwise.

Retail – If you are recruiting for a certain brand, make sure you do not wear anything that is from the competitor of the company you are recruiting for!

 Kristin Cho is a co-chair for Retail, Apparel and Luxury group.