What should you wear to a job interview?

For any life event one of the first questions we will ask ourselves is ‘But what am I going to wear?’ And this is particularly true for a job interview.  In most social situations it doesn’t matter what outfit you choose, as long as you’re happy in it – but for a job interview what you wear really can make a difference. So let’s talk about job interview outfits.

Two women chatting at table business image


What to wear to an interview used to be simple – it was always a business suit. But in the last couple of decades business dress has become much more diverse.

Many companies now have a casual dress code, while others even emphasise fashion and individuality. So in these complicated times, how can you decide on a job interview outfit?

Choosing what to wear for an interview

The number one goal when choosing what to wear for a job interview is to look like you’ve made an effort. Even the most casual companies would be surprised if you turned up for an interview in shorts and flip flops.

You want to create a good impression rather than make any kind of bold statement. It’s important to convey that you care about the job and want to be taken seriously.

Here are five tips for choosing what to wear for interview.

1. Be smart

Your aim is to be – in appearance – a bit smarter than the average employee at the organisation that’s interviewing you. Different types of company or industry have different dress codes, and you’ll usually have a sense of what the norm is.

Professional industries like law and finance have fairly formal dress codes, while smaller start ups, creative companies and charities might be less formal.

It’s much better to be too smart than underdressed. Generally, a suit, a smart dress or trousers and a blazer will create a good impression. Rather than tie yourself up in knots trying to find a smart casual interview outfit, stick to something classic and stylish.

2. Be comfortable

You’re likely to be nervous about your interview so don’t add to your discomfort by wearing something which causes anxiety. Don’t wear high heels if you’re not used to them, or ill-fitting shoes, or squeeze into clothes that are too tight.

Not only will your lack of comfort be obvious, but you risk embarrassment from tripping in your shoes, or worse, bursting at the seams!

3. Be neutral

In the interview itself you want the focus to be on what you’re saying. Don’t let the interviewer be distracted by dangling earrings, jangling bracelets, garish colours or high impact make-up.

The purpose is to show how you will fit in, not stand out.

4. Be groomed

It won’t matter how perfect your outfit is if your hair, shoes or nails don’t match up. Make sure footwear is polished and un-scuffed, that your hair and make-up is tidy and if you’re wearing nail polish, it’s unchipped.

You don’t want your interviewer to be distracted from what you’re saying, and you want to convey that you value the chance to be interviewed.

5. Be yourself

While it’s important to look smart and feel good, don’t feel that you need to reinvent yourself for a job interview. Remember that if you’re successful, you’ll be working there every day and you need to remain authentic to be happy in your working life.

So you can leave your piercings in and keep your hair pink. Just present the smartest version of yourself. If an interviewer misjudges you on looks alone, it’s probably not the right fit for you anyway.

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