Successful job interviews depend on both how well you answer questions and how you present yourself. That’s why a professional appearance will leave a good first impression on the hiring manager.
Before choosing an interview outfit, research the company to determine how formal their workplace is. It’s also a good idea to consider the role and industry. If you’re interviewing for a corporate position in finance or law, for example, wear formal business attire. For men, this means a matching suit and tie. For women, it means a tailored dress, pantsuit, or skirt suit. However, for less formal positions and workplaces, business casual is almost always the best option.
Although it doesn’t have a strict definition, business casual generally means dressing professionally without being overly formal. It’s a step up from jeans and a t-shirt but a step down from formal business attire. It’s often a company’s default dress code and one that is a smart option for job interviews in nearly every industry.
Follow the guidelines below for women’s business casual attire:
Wear a top that is comfortable, professional, and conservative. Try a button-down shirt paired with a cardigan, a simple blouse with a casual jacket, a navy blue blazer, or a knit sweater. Choose neutral colors and simple patterns. Avoid slouchy or oversized sweaters, ill-fitting clothes, plunging necklines, and fabric that wrinkles easily.
Pair your top with black or navy trousers, a pencil skirt (knee-length or longer), or dark denim jeans. If you’re wearing a button-down shirt, you may want to tuck it into your pants or skirt for a polished look. It’s also acceptable to wear khaki or cotton pants, as long as they look professional.
For your business casual interview, wear black or brown closed-toe flats, pumps, or low heels. Make sure your shoes are not scuffed, scratched or dirty, and avoid strapped sandals, flip-flops, sky-high stilettos, sneakers, or brightly colored shoes.
Follow the guidelines below for men’s business casual attire:
Wear a light-colored, pressed button-down shirt with long sleeves and a collar, and make sure it’s neatly tucked into your pants. You can wear a knit tie with a simple pattern or solid color, but this is completely optional. It’s also appropriate to layer a nice sweater over a button-down shirt for a polished business casual look. Although it’s not mandatory, consider throwing on a grey, black, or navy blue blazer or lightweight sports jacket for a more pulled-together outfit. Avoid wearing a polo shirt even if you’re interviewing at a laid-back company.
Crisply pressed cotton pants, light-colored chinos or khakis are great options for a business casual interview. Stick to neutral colors like grey, black, brown and navy blue, since these match many shirt colors. In some workplaces, it may be acceptable to wear dark-colored jeans. If you’re not sure if jeans are appropriate in this office, wear chinos or dress pants instead.
Choose dark-colored, freshly-polished leather shoes. You can wear brown or black loafers, lace-up dress shoes, Oxfords, or another professional closed-toe shoe that compliments your outfit. Be sure to wear mid-calf length dress socks that match the color of your trousers. Avoid athletic socks.
Try on your complete outfit a few days ahead of the interview to ensure everything fits properly and looks clean and professional. The night before, check one last time for any wrinkles, stains, holes, or pet hair.
Finally, let’s review what you should not wear to an interview, regardless of how formal or informal the workplace is. Your goal in a job interview is to make a good first impression, and how you dress is an important part of how others perceive you. To make sure you look your best, avoid the following: