It can be a challenge to figure out what outfit to wear to an interview, especially for women. While some newer, younger companies are taking a more laid-back approach, there are still a lot of old-fashioned views guiding the workplace rules. Luckily, we have all the inside scoop on why your interview outfit matters, tips on how you should dress, and even what to do for a video interview. Stick with us, and we’ll talk you through the best interview outfits for women, so that you have the best chance at success.
Why the outfit you wear to an interview matters as a woman
As soon as you walk in the door, your potential employer is going to start making snap judgements about you. Not necessarily in a bad, ‘Mean Girls’ way – it’s just human nature! It’s a commonly-held belief that, within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, we’ve already formed a pretty strong opinion of them. So, things like your handshake, eye contact, and posture are essential for starting your interview off on the right foot.
But, one crucial element that people often overlook is your outfit. What women wear to a job interview can tell the interviewer how serious they are about the job and how well they fit in the company. And they don’t have to say a word! If you show up in a ballgown for a job on a building site, they might not think you'd be the best candidate, let’s say. This is especially true for women, because their bodies are so often put under the microscope and judged above their actual talents.
With women’s interview clothes, you need to balance expressing yourself and looking professional. It’s a bit of a juggling act, but with the right knowledge, we’re sure you can do it. Read on for all our favourite tips on how to dress for an interview as a woman.
5 tips on interview outfits for women
So, what’s the best way to go about the jungle that is women’s job interview outfits? We’ve got our top 5 tips prepared to help you succeed. Lots of these tips are also applicable no matter your gender, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t identify as a woman – you can still go in looking sharp!
1. Plan your outfit in advance
Having your interview clothes prepared and ready to go ahead of your interview means there’s one less thing to worry about in the morning. You can focus on mentally preparing for the questions they’ll ask, and the top-notch answers you’ll give.
It also means that you can check the quality of your interview clothes. Showing up with rips in your trousers or loose threads in your jumper makes you automatically look less presentable, and will give off a bad impression. Make sure you take the time to check your clothes for tears or stains, and try them on so that you know they fit correctly. Remember, first impressions matter!
2. Dress for the job you want
Different workplaces have different dress codes to match the atmosphere and image they’re trying to present. That means that a woman may have to switch up their interview attire to match the vibe of the office, factory, restaurant, or wherever it is you’re applying. Do some research on the company’s website and social media to see what other women are wearing there. Is everyone in skirts and heels? Then you might want to follow suit. If not, you can probably stick with something more casual.
It can also vary based on the type of job you’re going for. Are you looking at getting an office job? You’re probably going to want to go with a more formal outfit. Are you applying for a retail position? Then scout out the shop to see what their customers are wearing. If you can show that you understand the target audience, they’ll know that you can fit right in.
3. If in doubt, stay smart
If you can’t figure out the vibe of the place, whether it’s super formal or more jeans and t-shirts, your best bet is always to go with something smart. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all! As a general rule, smart casual interview outfits are best for both women and men, because they hit a nice middle ground. You’re not trying too hard, but you still want to impress.
Some examples of smart casual job interview attire for women are fitted trousers, dress shirts, and blazers. Unless you’re looking for a job in a gym, leggings are not the way to go. Stick to the classics and you can’t go wrong.
4. Don’t forget about the extras
The interview outfit a woman wears is more than just the clothes on her back. Things like your personal grooming also play a part in giving off the right impression, and letting the interviewer know you put in the effort. Having your hair, nails, and any makeup looking clean and fresh will have you looking your best for your potential new boss.
If you like experimenting with things like makeup or nail varnish, absolutely go for it; it’s not the 1950s any more, so what you wear to an interview can show your personality too! That being said, you might have to compromise and find a middle ground between looking the part and looking like yourself. Try going online to find inspiration from artists you like for a more laid-back look.
Let’s not forget about your outerwear. Walking into a job interview, your coat or jacket is also visible to the interviewer and contributes to their first impression. The same goes for your shoes; you might have the most beautiful shirt and blazer combination on, but if you’re wearing ratty old trainers then there’s really no point. Taking a few minutes to clean and polish your shoes, and picking out a jacket that compliments your outfit will be a great cherry on top.
5. Comfort, comfort, comfort
The most important thing to consider when a woman builds an interview outfit is being comfortable. The old ideas of sky-high heels and restrictive pencil skirts are only going to make you feel uneasy in your skin, which will distract you from the interview. Of course, if those are the kind of clothes that make you feel confident, then absolutely go for it!
But, if you’re usually a bit more laid-back in your style of dress, then it’s best to stick with what you know. Wear shoes you can easily walk in, avoid itchy, irritating, or sweaty fabrics, and don’t wear noisy jewellery that will distract you. Wearing uncomfortable clothes or accessories can affect your body language. You want to be as comfortable as you can in your clothes so that you can focus on smashing those interview questions.
The same advice goes for job interview outfits for men, plus-sized people, or anyone non-binary or gender-neutral. Comfort is key, so make sure you try on your outfit ahead of time to make sure you feel good in it. Ideally, wear things that you’ve worn before, so you know that they work for you.
What about video interview outfits for women?
It can be tempting to change your outfit for a video interview, but that’s not always the best idea. Throwing on a blazer over a pair of joggers might seem like a great way to balance comfort with professionalism, but it can actually have a harmful effect.
Think about it: if you’re sitting there in the same clothes that you binge-watch ‘Gavin and Stacey’ in, you’re not going to be very on the ball. Your mind won’t be in interview mode, and you might risk botching the whole thing by getting flustered or distracted. Do yourself a favour and go through some more tips on what to wear to a video interview. The same tips apply for job interview outfits for women in person and online; look clean and presentable, and you’ll be golden.
Interview outfits for women: in short
It’s so important to make a good impression in the first few minutes of your interview, and the way you dress adds to it greatly. Women’s interview outfits can come in all different forms, but there are a few things that can apply to every situation:
- Prepare your outfit ahead of time.
- Know the place where you’re interviewing so you can match their vibe.
- Err on the side of caution and dress smart.
- Make sure your entire outfit looks good, including your shoes and coat.
- Stick with comfort, and you can’t go wrong.
If you follow these basic tips, then you’re sure to shine in your job interview outfit. Women’s clothes can be a bit niche, so if you’re looking for more general guidelines, be sure to check out all of our tips on what to wear for an interview. Still working on landing that interview? Give your CV a makeover with our free CV builder and you might just catch a few recruiters’ eyes.
FAQs about interview outfits for women
What colour should women wear to a job interview?
What shoes should a woman wear to an interview?
What do I wear to an interview if I don’t have dress clothes?
In general, sticking to neutrals and basics is a safe bet, but it all depends on the company. That’s why researching them beforehand is so important; knowing the vibe of the workplace is the key to knowing what you can get away with.
It all depends on the workplace. A fresh, young startup might be OK with a pair of trainers; an old-school bank, on the other hand, might prefer you to wear loafers or even heels. The most important thing to remember is to be comfortable in the shoes though, so maybe avoid sky-high stilettos.
No fancy attire in your wardrobe? No worries! As long as the clothes you have are clean, neat, and tidy, any decent employer will see the effort you put in and appreciate it.
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