What to wear: Interview Attire

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. 

Research the office dress code

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.

What is business casual?

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.

Women: How to dress business casual 

Follow the guidelines below for women’s business casual attire:

Simple, professional tops

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. 

Dress pants or a skirt

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.

Comfortable, closed-toe shoes

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. 

Men: How to dress business casual 

Follow the guidelines below for men’s business casual attire:

Collared shirts with long sleeves

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.

Chinos or dress pants

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.

Dark shoes with matching socks

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.

Final Step: Double check your outfit 

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.

What not to wear to an interview

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:

  • Flip flops and other open-toed sandals
  • Athletic shoes
  • Tank tops or shirts with thin straps
  • Shorts
  • Underwear that sticks out from your clothing (This could include the top of your boxers, briefs, etc. showing from the top of your pants or skirt, or bra straps showing.)
  • Skirts or dresses that are too short (You can test this by standing and placing your arms straight down your sides. If the hem of your skirt is shorter than the end of your fingers, you may want to choose a longer one.)
  • Shirts with very low necklines 
  • Crop tops that expose your belly

Scholarship Available

Registration is now open!