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What Should I Wear for a Job Interview?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Most people make snap judgments about other people based on their appearance. When you’re applying for a job, it’s smart to bear in mind that you may only get to make a first impression, and that most people hiring you will not spend enough time with you to see past your appearance. It’s therefore important to let your appearance speak for you when you go to a job interview, and to carefully consider what you should wear to impress your interviewer.

In many industries, informal to formal business wear is standard for a job interview. In any type of office job, business dress code is the preferred way to show up for a job interview. Standard business-wear for men means a suit, white shirt, and tie, and a dress loafer shoe worn with socks. In most cases you needn’t worry about wearing suspenders, three-piece suits or the like, unless you’re applying for a job as a top-level executive.

You should give some consideration to color of your suit, choice of tie, and color of your shirt. The safest bet is to choose a neutral colored suit, with black, gray and navy blue being the top choices. Dress shirts should be white, and ties need to be fairly muted. A job interview day is not the day to wear whimsical ties. Standard tie colors should coordinate well with the suit; consider reds, blues or grays. Patterns in the tie should be understated like muted stripes, paisley prints or the like.

For women, either skirt or pants suits are the most appropriate for an office job interview. If you do choose to wear a skirt, it should be no shorter than knee length, and you must wear stockings. Shoe choice should be simple, with both high heels and flats appropriate. Closed-toe shoes are preferred until you can check whether office policy permits otherwise. Even with a pants suit, you should wear knee-highs or trouser socks with shoes. Jewelry should be understated and coordinate well with what you are wearing.

When you have a job interview for a more casual work environment, men should still consider wearing at least slacks and a neutral colored sports jacket, with the traditional white, or muted color shirt. A tie should still be worn. Women might choose pants and a twinset sweater option, or a skirt and a simple blouse instead, for a job interview with this type of company. Even if a work environment is casual, dressing well for an interview denotes that you are professional, and most interviews are much more formal occasions requiring at least slightly more formal clothing.

Sometimes you may have to change job interview apparel based on the type of employment you seek. A casual retail outlet selling rock posters might mean that wearing a miniskirt and keeping your nose ring in is perfectly acceptable. If possible, get a look at what other employees at a company are wearing prior to choosing your clothing for an interview. If you dress like these employees, you will automatically fit in better and seem like you already hold the job for which you are applying.

Some consideration should be given to hair and makeup for job interviews. For both men and women, hair should be cut and styled in a relatively conservative fashion: no mohawks, green or purple hair, or otherwise. Women should wear suitable makeup that is understated. Consider colored lip gloss instead of harsh colored lipsticks, minimal eye makeup and blush, and a good simple base foundation that matches well with your skin tone. Take out multiple piercings. Men, for instance, should avoid wearing pierced ears or nose rings. Women, if they have multiple piercings should consider wearing only one pair of earrings.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Antome — On Jan 31, 2016

@anon53782 "Cleavage, visible bra straps, white socks with a suit and dirty tennis shoes scream, "I don't care about myself." Means non mainstream tastes and has nothing to do with your performance. It might mean you are a more practical and essential type, which cares for the substance, rather than appearance, which is what is important in a job. That's just your way to test the submission of the applicant.

By Antome — On Jan 30, 2016

Remember your socks should reach up to just below your knee to ensure no skin will show. They can match your shoes, trousers or dress shirt. It might feel weird if you're not used to having them that high, but if you really don't like it, wear low hem pants which rest just touching your shoe instep. This way you can wear lower calf socks. If you like, you can make it so your socks show when walking or even when standing, remember though to not exceed 1.5 inches above the ankle.

By anon65196 — On Feb 11, 2010

I care about myself but when you have a bigger bust, it is very hard to find a t-shirt that fits you correctly.

By anon53782 — On Nov 24, 2009

I used to hire nurses, who are famous for wearing scrubs that look like pajamas to work. In an interview, however, attention to detail is noticed. Cleavage, visible bra straps, white socks with a suit and dirty tennis shoes scream, "I don't care about myself."

By DocZ — On Jun 23, 2009

Too many people seem to think that how you dress for an interview doesn't matter - this is simply not true. I used to help hire in my department, and while we are a relatively casual company, it's always frustrating when an applicant comes in looking like they didn't care about making an effort. If you can't be bothered to make an effort on the one occasion we meet you, why would we think that you'll make an effort to work hard for the company?

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia...
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