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What To Wear To An Interview?

Are you trying to select the perfect outfit to wear to an important interview?

The old saying is true; there is only one chance to make a first impression. The interviewer is likely to judge you and your suitability for the job on the outfit you wear for the interview.

what to wear to interview

While you will want to wear something smart, it is essential to dress for the job you hope to secure. Wearing something that is much too formal is just as bad as wearing something that is too casual.

Let’s take a look at what to wear to an interview, depending on the type of working environment.

Research The Office Dress Code

Before you pick out your interview outfit, research the company’s dress code. When checking out the company’s website, you may see images of employees busy at work. The types of clothes the employees are wearing will indicate the company’s dress code.

And if you’re still unsure…

If the dress code is not apparent, never be afraid to ask. A good option is calling the HR department and asking what they recommend you wear. Even if the interviewer finds out that you made the call, they are likely to appreciate that you took the initiative.

Consider the type of clothes you are likely to wear during your job. In some companies, formal business attire may be required to make a strong impression on clients. However, if you will be working in a factory, there is likely to be a much more casual dress code.

Dressing For The Formal Business Environment

When you’re uncertain what to wear to an interview, the safest option is to stick with known standards.

If you’re interviewing for an office job, business formal is usually the standard interview dress code. When you know that the company requires formal business attire, it is essential to get it just right. The following guidelines will help to make sure you dress for success.

Men’s Formal Interview Outfits

It is best to wear a dark-colored, single-breasted two-piece suit. The suit should either be a single color or feature tiny pinstripes. Wear either a white or light-colored dress shirt paired with a conservative tie. Choose dark shoes that have been polished and pair them with matching socks.

Making the right impression…

It is essential to avoid wearing a strong cologne for your interview. Select a briefcase or a smart laptop bag to carry your resume and other documents in. Remove any body piercings and make sure that any tattoos you have are entirely covered.

what to wear to an interview

Women’s Formal Interview Outfits

It is a good idea to select a slightly more formal outfit than you would wear to work. If you decide on wearing a skirt, rather choose a dark-colored skirt suit. Ideally, the hem of the skirt should brush your knees or fall slightly lower.

If you feel more comfortable wearing pants, choose a pantsuit. The same color rules apply as with a skirt suit.

Jackets…

A tailored jacket will look smarter than a loose-fitting jacket. Choose a blouse or shirt in a solid color that is flattering without being distracting. Although your blouse does not need to be buttoned up to your neck, it is best to avoid showing cleavage.

It is best to wear closed-toed shoes to the interview. If you feel more comfortable in heels, make sure the heel is shorter than six inches. The most important thing is choosing a pair of shoes you can walk comfortably in.

Finishing touches…

If you’re going to wear makeup, make sure it is light and natural. Keep jewelry and accessories to an absolute minimum and avoid loud colors. Instead of a large handbag, carry a small to medium purse, a laptop bag, or a briefcase.

It is best to style your hair or tie it back and avoid wearing strong perfume. Remove any visible piercings and make sure that tattoos are covered.

What is Business Casual?

Defining business casual attire can be tricky, but it basically means dressing professionally without having to wear a full suit. While the general attire leans towards comfort, it still needs to be smart. If in doubt, dressing overly formal is preferable to being too casual.

Women’s Business Casual for an Interview

It can be tough for women to get the business casual line just right. Dressing too casually can make it look like you are heading on a day out rather than to work. However, aiming the other way can make it look like you are ready for a night on the town.

Here are my top suggestions…

Simple and Professional Tops

Choose a top that is comfortable while also being conservative and professional. A button-down shirt or blouse paired with a cardigan or a simple jacket is ideal. It is best to go for more neutral colors or simple colors. The top you choose should be appropriately fitted rather than being too loose and baggy, which can appear sloppy.

what to wear to your interview

A Skirt or Dress Pants

It is best to wear a pencil skirt that is knee-length or longer or a pair of slacks. Your pants or skirt should ideally be either black or navy blue. Tuck your blouse or shirt into your slacks or skirt to create a sleeker and more polished look.

Comfortable, Closed-toe Shoes

Comfort is critical when it comes to your footwear, especially if you are likely to be on your feet all day. However, this is not an invitation to wear sneakers or flip-flops. It is best to wear closed-toed low heels, pumps, or flats in a dark color like black or brown.

Simple Accessories

Keep your jewelry and accessories as simple and classy as possible. If you have pierced ears, stick to simple hoop or stud earrings and select one bracelet rather than several. A smart dress watch is all you really need to make your interview outfit shine in most cases.

Men’s Business Casual for an Interview

Business casual is not an invitation to slip into your favorite shorts and let it all hang out. Even though you may not need to wear a suit and tie, you still want to look professional. It is better to err well on the side of caution and wear something more sedate that will make a good impression.

The following are your best options…

Long-sleeved Collared Shirts

Choose a light-colored shirt with a collar and long sleeves and tuck the shirt into your pants. A solid color knit tie or a tie with a simple pattern is a good pairing for the shirt. Unless otherwise suggested by the HR manager, avoid wearing a polo shirt to the interview.

what to wear to the interview

Dress Pants or Chinos

Choose a pair of light-colored khakis or chinos that have been crisply pressed. Stick to the more neutral colors such as black, gray, brown, and navy blue, and pair your pants with your shirt. Although smart jeans may be acceptable in the office, it is best to avoid wearing them to the interview.

Dark Shoes with Matching Socks

Your shoes should be dark-colored and freshly polished. As long as they look smart, any type of black or brown close-toed shoes should be acceptable. Select a pair of matching dress socks to complete the look.

Simple Accessories and Accents

A classic wristwatch with a leather or metal band is the only accessory you really need. In fact, it is best to remove any large and potentially distracting jewelry. Choose a belt that matches the color of your shoes and add a pocket square to complete the look if you want.

Dressing for a Casual Working Environment

If you are applying to work in a bar, café, or restaurant, there is likely to be a set uniform you have to wear. Conversely, there may be no uniform at all, and just about anything may be acceptable. However, it is still important to dress semi-smart for an interview to show that you take it seriously.

Men’s Casual Interview Outfits

Make sure that all of your clothes are clean and free from holes. Rather than jeans, choose a pair of dark chinos or cargo pants paired with a polo shirt or button-down shirt. Unless you will be required to wear a tie at work, there is no need to wear one to the interview.

Other than that…

Choose casual close-toed shoes such as a pair of loafers that are in good condition. It is best to shave before the interview and make sure your hair is tidy, taking time to clean your nails. Any piercings and tattoos should be fully covered or removed if possible, and avoid wearing too much cologne.

what to wear to interview guide

Women’s Casual Interview Outfits

It is best to wear dark-colored jeans, smart slacks, or a pair of tailored jeans. Alternatively, a calf-length or knee-length skirt could work just as well. Choose close-toed shoes with small heels or flats.

Select a blouse or shirt that is not low-cut and fits well without being too tight. Alternatively, a cropped cardigan looks smart without being overly formal.

And accessories?

You can be a bit bolder in a casual interview than in a formal interview setting when it comes to accessories. Many informal interviews focus on personality over skills, and your accessories allow you to express yourself. However, it is best to limit yourself to selecting two or three of your favorite pieces.

It is best to style your hair or tie it back and avoid wearing strong perfume. Remove any visible piercings and make sure that tattoos are covered.

The Blue Collar Working Environment

If you’re applying for a laborer job or as a factory worker, the interview setting is likely to be casual. It will probably take place on the factory floor or building site rather than in an office. Therefore, there’s no need to wear a fancy suit, and doing so is likely to send the wrong message.

However, you still need to pay very close attention to what you choose to wear. Make sure that your clothes are clean and free from slogans. Avoid showing too much skin and avoid wearing shorts and strappy tops at all costs.

Blue-collar Interview Outfits

Wear your best jeans that are free from holes, stains, and worn patches, and wear a belt. Choose a smart yet casual polo shirt with the buttons done up or a plain t-shirt. Make sure that your chosen shirt is not too short or tight.

Hats?

It is best to avoid wearing a hat to the interview and make sure your hair is neat and tidy. Choose a pair of close-toed shoes that are in good condition. Any piercings and tattoos should be fully covered or removed if possible.

what to wear to the interview guide

What Not to Wear To an Interview?

Even if your new work environment is very casual, you still need to think about your interview outfit carefully. The clothes that you select for an interview can make a statement about your personality. However, selecting certain types of clothes and accessories may come across as disrespectful or indifferent.

Best general practice…

Avoid wearing open-toed sandals, sneakers, or flip-flops. Even if your interviewer wears a tank top or shorts, it is best to avoid them. Do a quick mirror check before entering the interview room to make sure your underwear is not showing.

It is really best to avoid showing too much skin, especially if you are wearing a skirt or a dress. Ensure your shirt is not cut too low and does not expose your belly. Avoid wearing strong cologne or perfume, as they can be overpowering in the interview room.

By now, you should know What to Wear to an Interview, but…

Are You Prepared For the Interview Questions?

If not, I recommend preparing yourself well in advance. If you’re not quite sure where to begin, I have several articles to put you on the right track!

Check out my complete guides to Answering Tell Me About Yourself in Interview, responding well to Why We Should Hire You? and Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Or, you may want recommendations on discussing Strengths and Weaknesses for Job Interviews and How to Answer What is Your Greatest Strength? We also have advice on the more challenging questions that may come up, like How Do You Define Success and giving Reasons for Leaving a Job!

Or Suppose You’re Starting an Internship?

You can head straight to our preparation cheatsheet for Internship Interview Questions. And if you happen to be interviewing with a larger US company chain, you’ll probably find we have all the interview questions to expect! Our database includes everything from Dairy Queen Interview Questions to Kohls Interview Questions. Just use our search box for the latest info for 2021!

Back to today’s topic…

Now You Know What to Wear to an Interview

On the day of your interview, you are likely to feel nervous. You may find that you are pressed for time as something unexpected comes up that you have to deal with. Therefore, it is vital to prepare your interview outfit in advance and have a backup outfit just in case.

Try on your chosen outfit a few days before the interview, and make sure that everything fits properly. Do a practice interview in your chosen interview outfit to make sure that it is comfortable and looks professional. The night before the interview, check the outfit one last time to make sure there are no stains or wrinkles.

Now that you’re dressed to impress, the very best of luck with your interview.

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About Eugene Casey

Eugene works in a busy employment agency in Chicago and has nearly 20 years of experience in finding clients the perfect job. His philosophy is simple, the right match for the right position is nearly always a win-win for both the employee and the company.

When he isn't working or writing for us, he enjoys cooking and exploring the United States, one state at a time.

He lives with his wife Lisa and their two German Shepherds, Wilber and Gus.

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