What to Wear to a Job Interview
Hcareers / AUGUST 12 2020

Choosing the proper interview outfit is important in making a great first impression. You want to make sure that you are appropriately dressed for the position you are applying for and for the company you are applying to. 

There are three common dress codes in the workplace; business professional, business casual and casual. Here are the differences between each:

Business Professional: If a company has a business professional dress code, men will typically wear suits with a tie and dress shoes and women will wear a skirt or pants with a blazer and heels. 

Business casual: For this dress code, men might wear dress slacks or chinos, a button down or a polo shirt with dress shoes. Women might. Wear a conservative dress, blouse or a sweater with a skirt or dress pants and dress shoes or boots. 

Casual: If the company you are interviewing for has a casual dress code, men might wear a dress shirt with khakis and dress shoes and women could wear a button-down blouse or blazer with nice dark jeans, dress pants or a skirt.

As many companies are doing virtual interviews, these tips still apply, with more focus on what the interviewer can see on camera.

You’ll want to put more effort into your hair, makeup and choice of top while still wearing professional pants or a skirt just to be prepared for any scenario, and to also put you in the mindset of interviewing.

Below are some tips to help you pick an outfit that is appropriate for your next interview.

Research the company dress code

Browse the company website or social media channels to get a sense of what employees of every level wear to work. A general rule of thumb is to dress one notch above the dress code for your interview, depending on the position you are applying for. 

A general rule of thumb is to dress one notch above what current employees wear daily. If all employees wear business professional outfits to work, make sure to dress to match, but if the employees wear causal outfits to work, try dressing business casual. 

Pay attention to your outfit details 

Make sure your outfit looks polished. Iron or steam your clothes and check that there are no stains, rips or that your clothing is ill fitting. Before heading out the door, make sure there is no food in your teeth, and consider packing a small kit for any last-minute touch-ups. This could include a comb or brush, dental floss, makeup, tissues and cleansing wipes. 

Keep your outfits simple

You don’t want the interviewer to focus on your outfit instead of you. Dress in neutral tones, with toned down jewelry, makeup and hairstyles. Stay away from clothing that show too much skin. You can still wear some trendier pieces to show off your personality, just make sure they are professional. You can also invest in a classic handbag, tote or briefcase to be stylish and organized. 

Don’t wear strong cologne or perfume 

You never know if your interviewer will react badly to a perfume or cologne, so it’s best to skip it for an interview. If you do want to wear a scent, try keeping it to a more neutral scent and spraying very little to not overpower the room when you walk in. 

If you are doing a virtual interview, this tip does not apply, so you can wear any fragrance that makes you feel comfortable.

Try your outfit on the night before 

You want to make sure everything fits correctly and then you are comfortable in your outfit. It is difficult to get through an interview if all you can think about is how uncomfortable your clothes feel. If you wear makeup, make sure to be careful not to get any on your clothes while putting them on. 

If you are doing a virtual interview, you can also do a test run with a friend or family member through a video chat, or open you video camera and make sure everything looks good in the screen.

What not to wear to an interview

Remember that your outfit is part of your first impression. To make sure you look your best and make the best first impression, avoid wearing these: 

  • Flip flops and other open-toed sandals
  • Athletic shoes
  • Tank tops or shirts with thin straps 
  • Shorts 
  • Underwear that sticks out from your clothing. Also make sure that you can’t see your underwear through your clothing 
  • Skirts or dresses that are too short. You can test this by standing up straight with your arms straight down at your side. If the hem is shorter than your fingertips, you may want to choose a longer option.  
  • Shirts with low neckline or that expose your stomach