How to Dress for an Interview

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August 13, 2020
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min read

What to wear for an interview can be one of the hardest decisions for candidates to make. Below we will provide tips on picking the best interview attire for all job interviews. We will also discuss how to look good in online interviews or a video conference.

What to Wear to an Interview

Candidates want to make a good first impression and what to wear at an interview can make or break that impression.

Career experts always recommend overdressing if you don't know the office dress code. No one has ever been denied a job because they wore a suit to their job interviews. It's best to err on the side of caution and look professional.

Even if the office has a casual environment, overdress for your interview. Make sure you pick a simple yet clean outfit that you feel comfortable and good in. 

If you know the dress code of the company, that can help you pick your interview attire. Even if the dress code is business casual you should still pick a professional-looking outfit. Dress codes can mean different things at different places so it's always better to play it safe.

Both men and women can wear a suit to a job interview. However, it's not always necessary. Here are some examples of appropriate business attire for both men and women.

How men should dress for an interview

Below are some tips on what men should wear to an interview depending on the company culture. Most offices don't require a suit and tie so we have offered some advice for alternatives that still allow candidates to look well put together.

Professional attire for men

  • A black or dark-colored suit with a dress shirt and a tie
  • A suit without a tie
  • Suit pants and a button-down shirt with dress shoes
  • Use your judgment when it comes to wearing a tie 
  • Dress pants, a button-down shirt, and a blazer 
  • A sweater in a muted or dark color with nice pants 

Business casual interview attire for men

  • Suit pants and a button down shirt
  • Chino pants and a polo shirt
  • Slacks and a sweater
  • Khakis and a belt with a button down and loafers

Interview outfit tips for women

Women tend to have more options when it comes to interview attire. Make sure if you choose a more casual look, you still look professional.

Pay attention to your jewelry and accessories. You don't want your earrings or hair to be what the interviewer remembers most. Shoes can be tough for women.

Dress shoes are always safe and flats are acceptable. If you go with a pair of boots, make sure they aren't too flashy. Ladies should avoid showing too much cleavage.

Professional interview outfits

  • A suit with a button down shirt
  • Business dress with a sweater or jacket 
  • Dress pants and a blouse
  • Dress shoes or heels
  • A pencil skirt with a clean shirt 

Business casual interview attire

  • Black pants and a dress shirt
  • A skirt with a suit jacket
  • A simple dress with a blazer
  • Dark neat jeans and a nice top
  • A cardigan can help dress up a casual outfit

Choose articles of clothing that match your personality and fit your body type. You want to give off a positive appearance without dressing too flashy. If you could wear it to a social event, is it right for an interview?

Your outfit should exude confidence. Search for something that makes you feel like the hiring manager has to hire you.

What not to wear on a job interview

You want to get your interview outfit right. Make sure your attire is not what the interviewer remembers about you for all the wrong reasons.

Here are some items you should avoid wearing to your next job interview regardless of the dress code.

  • Bright colors or busy patterns
  • Shirts that have slogans or phrases on them 
  • Clothes that do not fit you well 
  • Clothing or shoes with rips or tears 
  • Ripped jeans 
  • T-shirt or shirts with holes
  • Sneakers or flip-flops
  • Shorts 
  • Too much cologne or perfume
  • Sandals
  • Too much makeup
  • Short skirts or dresses
  • Clothing that might be too revealing (check the opacity before leaving the house)

Your interview outfit shouldn't be distracting. Employers may interpret dress codes differently, so a good rule of thumb is to dress more conservative and use your best judgement.

Can I wear jeans to a job interview?

Most people like the way they look in a great pair of jeans. Although it might be nice to wear them on your next job interview, make sure it's the right time for your favorite denim.

Do a quick search on the company's website to decide if jeans would be appropriate. It's always safer to dress more formally for a job interview. A pair of trousers or chinos are always a safe bet.

Final thoughts on what to wear to an interview

Job interview clothes should not be why you don't get a job. Always ask a friend for help when picking out an outfit or article of clothing for a job interview if you're unsure. You want to pick your outfit in advance so you are prepared.

Dark or muted colors such as black, navy, and grey are always a good choice. If you have tattoos or a lot of piercings, considering taking some out or covering up for your interview.

Candidates should choose a nice handbag or briefcase if they have one. Also, your hairstyle can complement your apparel.

Do your homework and research the companies before your interview. Chances are you have the perfect interview outfit in your closet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the right color scheme for my interview attire?

When selecting colors for your interview outfit, opt for neutral and solid tones like navy, gray, black, or beige as they convey professionalism. Bright colors can be distracting, so it's best to use them sparingly, such as in a tie or accessory, to add a subtle pop without overwhelming the interviewer.

Is it necessary to wear a full suit to every job interview?

Not every interview requires a full suit. It's important to tailor your attire to the company culture. For corporate positions, a suit might be expected, but for startups or creative fields, smart casual attire could be more appropriate. Research the company beforehand to gauge the expected dress code.

Can accessories make or break an interview outfit?

Accessories should complement your outfit without becoming the focal point. Choose subtle pieces like a classic watch or a modest pair of earrings. Avoid flashy jewelry or loud ties that might distract the interviewer. The goal is to enhance your professional appearance, not detract from your qualifications.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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