What to Wear to An Interview

Posted on May 6, 2020 by Doug Crawford, Job Applications.com

How to Dress for an Interview

If you’re preparing to interview for a job, that means you’ve already gotten the hiring manager’s attention. You probably assembled a stellar resume, put together a list of reliable references and applied online. The next step is deciding what to wear to the interview to ensure you get the job.

In addition to practicing your answers for the most common job interview questions, it’s a good idea to research how clothing can make a positive impact on your meeting. One study found that something as small as an extra undone button can affect how competent others perceive you to be. To help you dress for success at every interview, follow along with our useful tips below.

Research the Company

Professionals who work in law firms don’t dress the same as retail employees. Likewise, you certainly wouldn’t dress the same for interviews at both businesses. That’s why you need to understand what workers at your potential new job wear.

You likely studied up on your prospective employer while creating a resume for the application. That same information can give you an idea of the company’s values and how competitors in the industry typically dress. Use this and other online research to base your interview attire on that.

When it comes to certain positions, even online and work-from-home jobs can require either an in-person or video chat interview. Take time to investigate the business you’re hoping to land a remote job at; this way you’ll know you look your best when meeting the hiring manager face-to-face.

Different Types of Interview Attire

How to dress for an interview depends on a company’s culture and the nature of the industry. Here is a breakdown of various kinds of job interview outfits, where you might expect to wear each and advice on how to assemble the ideal ensemble.

Professional Business Attire

If you’re interviewing for a position in government, law or banking, you should dress in business professional apparel. A few popular styles include:

  • Jackets, slacks and ties – A two-piece suit is normal attire for men to wear when interviewing in these professions.
  • Pantsuits or pencil skirts – Women should take special care to ensure skirts are a conservative length. Pantyhose may also be appropriate.
  • Button-up collared shirts or blouses – Take the time to iron these choices before the interview so they’re crisp and wrinkle-free.
  • Dress shoes, loafers or heels – All footwear should always be clean and polished. Women who choose to wear heels should make sure they aren’t too high.

In general, dark colors are considered the most professional-looking options. However, light-colored solids such as beige may work well during spring and summer. If you plan on wearing a pattern, use it sparingly. As an example of a tried-and-true option, a subtle printed tie or blouse looks sharp beneath a black or blue fitted jacket.

Business Casual

If you’re unsure what to wear to a job interview, business casual attire is a safe bet for most positions. These outfits look polished without seeming overly stuffy, and similar styles are everyday workwear in many offices. Here are some examples of this kind of interview wear:

  • Khakis or trousers – Both men and women may wear these standard work pants.
  • Button-down shirts or simple blouses – A polo may also be appropriate for men, depending on the business.
  • Sweaters or cardigans – A knit top works well for business casual attire in fall and winter months. Consider layering one over a collared shirt for a polished look.
  • Flats, mules or boots for women – Heels aren’t always necessary in these workplaces. Instead, opt for shoes that are both comfortable and stylish.
  • Loafers, oxfords or ankle boots for men – Dress up a casual ensemble with sleek leather shoes. If you’re going for a more modern and trendy vibe, a pair of suede Chelsea boots are a fine choice.

As with professional attire, the key to chic business casualwear is simplicity. Neutral colors are the ideal choice because they are the least distracting and pair well with almost everything. You don’t want your interviewer to focus on flashy clothing instead of your outstanding qualifications and well-prepared answers.

Casual

Casual interview attire depends on the place you’re interviewing and your interpretation of the norms there. It lets you showcase your knowledge and view of the company with your dress. For example, if you’re applying to a clothing retailer, you might wear the store’s brand or something similar to it.

While casual interview clothes are more relaxed than the other interview outfits discussed above, they should still look neat and appropriate. A quality t-shirt paired with well-fitted jeans free of wear and tear would typically be suitable for a job in a casual field.

Industry-Specific Clothing

Interviews for jobs in certain fields might call for apparel suited specifically to the work. For instance, you wouldn’t wear a suit to an interview for a laborer role. The basics of looking presentable still apply to interviews in outdoor trades, but you can also show you’re ready to work hard with your clothing. For example, work boots may be the right choice, as long as they aren’t too workworn yet.

Tips for Interview Outfits

Still trying to put together what to wear to an interview for women? Or maybe you’re a guy getting ready to secure your dream job but feel uneasy about your apparel? Below are some additional tricks that everyone can use when picking out an interview outfit.

  • Err on the side of overdressing It’s better to look a bit too formal than to underdress and seem careless. Wearing your best interview clothes shows you’re taking the opportunity seriously.
  • Ensure your interview attire fits properly A study conducted on interviewees showed that simply wearing a suit made a man seem trustworthy to those who interviewed him, but a well-tailored selection left an even more favorable impression.
  • Keep your interview wear simple Make sure the focus stays on your words rather than your clothing and jewelry by avoiding accessories that could distract those asking the questions.

Grooming is equally as important as your clothing. Your hair should look neat, and men should trim and groom their facial hair. Avoid wearing strong perfume or cologne that could be unpleasant. Women should keep their makeup relatively natural-toned and stay away from extreme eye-catching looks unless it’s industry-appropriate.

In addition to dressing properly, there may be other items you should bring to a job interview. These can include a portfolio with your resume, a list of references, recommendation letters and a notepad and pen for quick notetaking.

What Not to Wear to an Interview

Have you ever wondered to yourself, “why can’t I get a job anywhere?” The answer may be that you’ve been making crucial mistakes with your interview attire. Some things to leave in the closet regardless of what position you may be aiming for are:

  • Inappropriate footwear – This could be flip flops, dirty shoes or excessively flashy high heels.
  • Revealing clothing – Low-cut tops, short skirts or shorts, or anything that exposes undergarments can immediately raise a red flag to hiring managers.
  • Offensive clothing – Pick plain pieces rather than articles with potentially insulting words, logos or images.
  • Distressed clothing – Ripped jeans or other similar styles are usually not suitable for interviews, regardless of how casual the work environment might be.
  • Body jewelry – Facial piercings like lip and nose rings can be bothersome and appear unprofessional to some interviewers.

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