What is the best outfit to wear to a job interview, and what should you convey through your clothing? Ideally, you will appear more conservative and professional than a typical day at the office. You should convey that you are competent, respectful of the interviewer, serious about the opportunity, and the perfect fit for the job.

Keep in mind that the appearance tips we cover are not the only acceptable way to dress and present yourself in an interview. It’s important you dress in a way that represents you and makes you feel comfortable. After all, you want to work somewhere that welcomes how you express your identity. So, if you don’t want to work for a workplace that would require you to cover your tattoos, find out the company policy in advance and don’t cover them in an interview. If you don’t normally wear makeup, you need not wear it in an interview. If you want to work for a company that welcomes someone who is gender-neutral or who is non-gender-conforming, wear apparel in your interview that aligns with your identity.


Appearance Tips For Any Workplace:

1. Aim to make a great first impression and pay attention to details because they all matter. 

A hiring manager can tell a lot about you within the first 60 seconds of meeting you. That’s why first impressions are so important. You can look at them as an opportunity to present yourself authentically and professionally by being yourself, with your shoulders back and keeping eye contact. 

2. Arrive for your interview looking polished and smelling fresh. 

Appearance, such as the way you dress, is important but don’t forget about personal hygiene. Key tips to consider: Don’t go overboard with perfume, keep it light – if at all. Remember things like deodorant and brushing your teeth before you commute. If you drink coffee on the way, be sure to have some breath mints. 

3. Choose clothes that fit you well and look new. Iron them or have them dry cleaned. 

You don’t need to buy a new outfit for your interview, just be sure to wear something that is well pressed, and wrinkle-free. You want to let your hiring manager know that you care about the opportunity. 

4. Aim to fit in with others in the workplace. 

Company culture is important. That’s why you want to do some research on the company and the workplace. For example, if the company you’re interviewing with, is notorious for having a relaxed dress code – you still want to dress professionally, but you may not need to wear a full suit and tie. Opting for a nice pair of jeans, dress shoes, a tucked-in shirt with a blazer works perfectly.  

5. Wear classic, neutral colors such as navy, gray, brown, beige, and black.

Keep your bold prints and patterns and loud colors for fun workdays when you get the job or casual Fridays. Again, doing your research on the company’s workplace culture will help you make a well-educated decision on how to dress for the interview, but in most cases, keeping it neutral with a statement pop is perfect. 

6. Reserve white and colors for accents, such as a light pink or blue blouse or button-down shirt. 

This is where you can tie in your personality statement. Opt for subtly – not boring. Remember, you’re not the only person they’re interviewing, so you’ll want to make a good impression, but also one that they’ll remember. 

7. Your shoes should be clean, polished, closed-toe, and look new. 

You’ll want to keep your shoes neutral, so you shift the focus upwards towards your face, as opposed to your feet. Do this by wearing nude, brown, or black shoes. Make sure they’re comfortable, and that you can walk in them. Don’t wear anything too tight or too high. 

8. If it’s cold or rainy, try wearing a dark or neutral-colored trench coat. 

Also bring an umbrella, so you don’t show up to the interview, soaking wet. This might give the impression that you were not prepared, didn’t check the weather, or maybe even running late. 

9. Bring along a professional briefcase or purse (not both).

Don’t bring too much with you to the interview. Organization is key, and you’ll feel empowered when you know you have everything you need. 

10. Keep other accessories simple. 

Be sure to wear accessories that don’t cause too much distraction. For example, wearing earrings that make noise when you walk, is not a good look. Keep it lowkey. 


Be Sure To Avoid:

1. Bright colors or prints (unless you work in fashion or other creative areas).

Research will never lead you wrong. Unless you know otherwise, most hiring managers will not take you seriously, if you show up in a loud print. This is distracting and may be too eccentric for first impressions. 

2. Strongly scented body products. 

Yes, you want them to remember you, but not for having an overbearing perfume. Keep it light, simple, and fresh. 

3. Chipped or brightly-colored fingernail polish. 

If you can’t get your nails done, be sure your fingernails are clean and nicely filed. Most workplaces have a strict nail polish policy – and more often than not it’s nude, natural, or light pink. 

4. Extreme high heels or extravagant jewelry. 

Make sure you can walk in your shoes and that they are workplace appropriate. I.E. closed-toe, clean, and comfortable. 

5. Tight clothing and showing too much skin. 

HR will immediately write you off if you are wearing something inappropriate such as a short skirt, shorts, or a bodycon dress. You’re there to work, not to date. 

6. Too much makeup or none at all. 

Keep your beauty routine simple, like you would for everything else. Don’t overdo it. 

7. Uncombed or untrimmed hair. 

Your hair should be clean, combed, and well maintained. Schedule a haircut close to your interview if you need a haircut. Self-care is another way for you to show that you’re responsible and manage your life well. 


Makeup In The Workplace

Surveys consistently show women wearing some makeup, but not too much makeup, are viewed as more likable and competent in the workplace and are more likely to advance.

Appearance For A Very Casual Workplace

Women have many options. They can wear a nice pair of dark denim jeans or dress pants, along with a blouse or button up top and a cardigan or lightweight sweater. They may also wear a skirt and blouse or a dress with a blazer. Nice flats will round out a professional look. You’ll have the most freedom with clothing if you’re interviewing at a very casual workplace, like at some startups or tech companies.

Appearance For A Business Casual Workplace

Jeans are not acceptable for a business casual workplace interview and shoes should be a bit nicer. You may stick with flats or elect to wear a heel. You may also add a sports jacket for a more professional look. For a business casual workplace interview, you can follow the same guidelines for a very casual workplace interview except for jeans and shoes.

Appearance For A Business Formal Workplace

For a business formal workplace interview such as at a law firm or investment bank, you want to pull out all the stops to have the most professional image possible. You should wear a pantsuit or a dress suit, or a professional dress with a blazer.

If you want to hone your interview skills, sign up for our online video course “How To Ace A Job Interview.”

How to ace a job interview

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