Grads: Flip-flops and job interviews don't mix

May 23, 2012 at 2:54 PM ET

Alexandra Levit

College graduates who got used to wearing flip-flops and pajama pants to school are going to have to spruce up their look a bit if they’re going to head out on the job-search trail.

Not only are flops out during a job interview, but don’t even think about donning scoffed up dress shoes, urged Alexandra Levit, a Gen Y career expert and author of "They Don't Teach Corporate in College" and "How'd You Score That Gig?"

Levit was on hand to answer questions from readers Wednesday during a live chat on job-hunting for recent grads.

One reader named Shawn asked her:

How should you dress for an interview?

Her reply:

You should wear a well-tailored suit in black or navy blue, non-scuffed up dress shoes, and a clean, not-too-busy tie. Make sure you are clean-shaven and carry a nice, leather portfolio or briefcase. Even if the employees aren't this dressed up, I guarantee that no one will fault you in an interview situation.

She also offered advice for the female grads out there:

For all of the women out there, same advice regarding the suit, although you can choose a pantsuit or a skirt suit. If you go with the skirt suit, I still think you should wear pantyhose (though some experts might disagree). Heels are nice, but don't go too high, as you don't want to trip or look wobbly. Go easy on the makeup and perfume, and wear tasteful jewelry in silver or gold.

And on the perpetual question of whether to pantyhose or not; or what color to wear when you opt to put on nylons, she said, “I think either black or nude are fine.”

On the pantyhose debate, she sided with hose-wearing advocates “because you don't know how conservative the company is. It's best to err on the side of caution. You want to look professional and put-together without drawing too much attention to the way you are dressed. The more seamlessly you fit it, the better.”

Other topics Levit tackled included everything from how much you should expect to make at your first gig and whether taking time off from the career job search to take a summer job, maybe at the beach, is a good idea.

Here’s the entire Q&A with Levit:



Join us next week for another live web chat on Today.