How to Dress For a Job Interview

How to Dress For a Job Interview

Now that you’ve tossed the graduation cap into the air and the diplomas have been collected, it’s time to face the job hunt.

After all the preparation you’ve put in (searching for open positions, and updating your resume), the last step is figuring out the best way to present yourself to a potential employer.

Job hunting is hard, and it can be a painful process. However, your outfit should reflect just how qualified you are for the position. Brooke Jaffe, the senior vice president at a personal styling and closet organizing company, believes the candidates should, “dress for the job (you) want.” In other words, wear clothing that emphasizes a clean and professional look.

So whether you’re fresh out of college and new to the work industry or find yourself returning to work after an extended leave, here are some tips on choosing an interview outfit that will help land you an offer:

How to Dress for a Professional Interview

Here are some examples of interview outfits for men. For a professional job interview, men can always default to wearing a suit. Nonetheless, all clothes should fit you well and shouldn’t have visible stains or wrinkles.

Without further ado, here are some fundamental items men could wear during a professional interview:

  • Suit (preferably a solid color – navy, black, or dark gray).
  • Long sleeved shirt (the shirt should be white or coordinate with the suit being worn).
  • Belt
  • Tie or Bow tie (here’s how to do it).
  • Dark socks, with leather shoes.
  • Little or no jewelry.
  • Neatly trimmed nails.
  • A portfolio and/or briefcase.
Women’s Interview Attire

Generally speaking, fashion for women is often times a lot more complicated than men’s. This makes assembling an interview outfit a tiny bit more complicated.

Women, for example, will have to determine whether or not bare skin or wearing stockings (pantyhose) is acceptable during an interview. 

Most women interviewing for an open position also need to consider interview accessories and choose an appropriate purse. It’s best to always go with options that are large enough to fit a resume, are professional, and aren’t too flashy.

Here are some fundamental building blocks of what women could wear to a professional interview:

  • Suit – if it includes a skirt, make sure the skirt is long enough so you can sit down comfortably.
  • Comfortable blouse.
  • Wear makeup and jewelry that’s appropriate for the industry.
  • Neutral stockings and/or pantyhose.
  • Clean nails.
  • A briefcase and/or portfolio.
  • Avoid wearing lots of perfume as some people are allergic
Less Formal Attire

When the work environment is less formal, the dress code may be as well. If this is the case and you aren’t sure what to wear, it’s never a bad idea to check with the person scheduling the interview.

However, it’s still important not to dress like you’re going to a concert. Here are some alternatives:

Business Casual: This sounds like a breeze – no more worries about what to wear to work, right? Not exactly.

As a matter of fact, this dress code guideline is a frequent source of confusion for most employees; and it’s not their fault since there really isn’t a clear and standardized definition.

One thing is clear: dressing in shorts, T-shirt, sunglasses, and sandals is too casual. So if you’re unsure about the dress code, it’s better to err on the side of dressing too formal, than too casual.

What to wear when there’s no dress code: The work industry isn’t what it was 20 years ago. Now more than ever, company culture is slowly shifting towards allowing employees more flexibility in terms of when they work, where they work, and what they wear to work.

In some ways, this can be a perk. Forget the expensive suits, the dry cleaning bills, the high heels, and tight collars.

Nevertheless, more freedom can also make it more difficult to get dressed before the interview.

When there’s no company dress code, what do you wear to work? How casual is too casual? Will you look out of the place if you showed up in a dress? Are sandals acceptable? What about sweatpants during those cold winter days?

The best thing to do in this case is wear clothing items you feel comfortable in (assuming it’s not pajamas). A modern office without a dress code allows you to express your personal style. Think casual restaurant attire, and keep it classy.

In the end, you want to become the hiring manager’s perfect candidate, and the first impression you give will start you in that direction.

When arriving at an interview, make sure everything’s in order, and show up on time. If you’re nervous, think about something that makes you happy and asks questions throughout the interview. Good luck!


Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything? What are some other fashion options candidates should know about before a job interview? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Author: Herman Davis

Herman Davis is passionate about football and enjoys reading up on new policies that will make the sports industry equal for everyone. If you can’t find him online, you might be able to catch him at the gym, or reading up on social issues. Follow him on Twitter
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