What to wear to an interview

What you wear is what interviewers first see, which can make or break their impression of you. So, how do you figure out what to wear to an interview? That’s where we come in; we’ve got a range of tips on dos and don’ts. If you’re in need of some formal or casual interview outfit inspiration, we’ve also got examples of what to wear per formality. So read on for the latest job interview outfit advice. Don’t have long? Then scroll down to the key takeaways on what to wear to an interview.

What not to wear to an interview

First and foremost, let’s iron out what not to wear to a job interview. Outlining the don’ts is often far more helpful than the dos; use a process of elimination when sifting through your wardrobe.

Colours to avoid

What colour your interview attire should be is largely subjective. But, there are some basic rules to follow. Don’t wear colours that wash you out or anything that takes attention away from you. You want the interviewer to be focused on what you’re saying and your body language. Loud colours are fine, but don’t wear blocks of them; use them as accent pieces. So what colour should you wear to an interview? Black, grey, white, navy, and beige are all go-to colours that work well for main items of clothing.

Are you wondering what to wear to a virtual interview? Learn about the colours that don’t show up well on screen and more in our video interview outfits article.

Patterns to avoid

This one is quite obvious: don’t wear loud patterns. They can distract the interviewer, taking attention away from what matters - you. Wearing interview clothes with a simple pattern like stripes or polka dots is fine, but don’t wear anything busy. We’d also advise refraining from wearing clothes with text or images. They can seem unprofessional and might contain something that’s offensive to others on them.

Quality & fit of your interview clothes

The quality and fit of job interview clothes can sometimes be overlooked. But, they’re incredibly important to how employers view your level of professionalism and standards. Don’t wear anything that looks unkempt or overused; you want to appear clean and polished. That doesn’t mean you have to wear expensive items - you just need to look put-together. Interview outfits that don’t have a ‘professional’ fit, such as overly baggy clothes or diving necks, should also be avoided. So, make sure your clothes are in good condition; iron your clothes (if it’s a more formal interview) and wear fresh laundry to look and smell clean.

Accessories & makeup to avoid

When considering what not to wear to interviews, accessories and makeup can be forgotten. But, there are some things you should avoid. Anything that’s too loud, flashy, or otherwise attention-grabbing should stay home. Makeup or accent pieces like this are fine to wear at work once you’ve got the job, but in an interview, you want to keep the attention on you. So what should you wear to an interview then? Keep your accessories and makeup subtle - use them to compliment you, not as statements.

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How to know what to wear to an interview

To figure out what to wear to a job interview, you’ll want to do some research. The first thing to research is the company. So, browse their website, LinkedIn, social media - anything that gives you a clue about the company’s dress code. That way, you can tailor your job interview outfit to precisely what they’re looking for. You’re more likely to succeed when you seem like a good match for the company culture.

Want some outfit help that’s tailored to you? We have advice about interview outfits for men and women. Don’t fit in one of those boxes? No worries; we have an article dedicated to gender-neutral interview attire too. Otherwise, find general tips and inspo per formality below.

Casual job interview outfits

Wondering what to wear to a casual or informal interview? Well, it doesn’t mean you can show up in a tank top and flip-flops - it’s still a job interview, after all. You want to look put-together but not overdressed. Wearing a t-shirt is generally acceptable, but stick to long pants like chinos instead of shorts. Summer dresses, skirts, and jumpsuits are all good options too. Some stand-out accessories and makeup are more likely to be acceptable in casual interviews. Casual shoes like trainers are also usually fine. Let’s go over some casual interview outfit examples.

Let’s say you’re going for a retail vacancy. When picking out what to wear to your retail job interview, first look at what the staff members are wearing. Match your fit to theirs. If it’s a fashion retailer, you can also put on an item from their shop - you might just earn some brownie points.

Interviewing for a warehouse job? Then dress for the role. Chuck on a t-shirt and some work pants, for example, and you’re good to go. You don’t want to show up in a button-up and dress pants with dangly jewellery; you’ll look out of place and so will seem like a less appropriate candidate.

Business casual job interview outfits

‘Business casual’ is often a bit of an ambiguous term, so we’re here to give you some advice. You’ll want to stick in the middle of the informal-formal spectrum. This means wearing things like button-up shirts, cardigans, jumpers, dresses, skirts, chinos, dress pants, etc. But, avoid interview clothes like suits, formal dresses, ties, and other executive attire. More formal items like blazers can be fine as long as they’re dressed down a tad.

Your accessories and makeup can still be a bit showy, but they should lean more elegant. For shoes, anything open-toed is now off the table; wear closed-over shoes instead. But, only wear trainers if they are clean and in good nick, otherwise go for a dress shoe or boot.

Let’s go over an example. ‘What should I wear to an admin interview?’ In offices, it’s typically common to wear business casual attire. So, dress for a professional environment that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Wear a button-up shirt or blouse, some chinos or a skirt, and dress shoes or boots to your admin job interview.

Formal job interview attire

This one won’t take long - it’s pretty easy to pinpoint what to wear to an interview that’s formal. You’ll want to wear executive interview clothing like suits or formal dresses. Accessories like ties, belts, watches, and elegant jewellery are also a must. Any loud accessories or makeup are now a definite no-go, and you’ll want to avoid showing too much skin. These can appear unprofessional or informal. Your footwear should either be dress shoes or heels.

Formal attire is often quite rare unless you’re interviewing for a corporate or high-up position, like a job in management.

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What to wear to interviews: key takeaways

Planning the ideal interview outfit can be difficult - or at least it used to be. Follow our top tips, and you’ll never be left wondering what to wear to an interview again. Don’t wear:

  1. Mainly bold colours
  2. Loud patterns or clothes with text and images
  3. Clothes that fit you poorly or are in bad condition
  4. Flashy accessories and makeup

If you want to appear professional and keep all the attention on you, do wear:

  1. Subtle colours and simple patterns
  2. Clothes that fit you well
  3. Clean, ironed, and good condition clothes
  4. Simple and low-key accessories and makeup

Don’t forget to do your research to determine what the company’s dress code is like. Is it casual, business casual, or formal? If you tailor your interview outfit to their company culture, you’ll seem like a more desirable candidate. Want to become an even better candidate? Take a look at the articles we have on CV tips and salary tips. Then, put all that knowledge into practice and build a killer resume with our free CV maker.

FAQs about what to wear to interviews

  • What are some good summer interview outfits?

  • The same guidelines apply to summer interview outfits as the rest of the year. Even though it’s hotter outside, you unfortunately don’t get to wear shorts. You can wear dresses, light trousers, and thinner shirts to keep cool.

  • What colour should you wear to an interview?

  • Colour is mostly subjective, but we’d avoid wearing anything too bold or bright (unless as accent pieces). Instead, when picking out what to wear to your interview, wear black, white, navy, beige, and other subtle colours.

  • Is it OK to wear jeans to a job interview?

  • As long as your interview is more on the informal or casual side, then yes! Jeans can be extremely casual or dressed up to be business casual interview attire.

  • What are 5 rules for dressing for an interview?

  • For everything from petite to plus-size interview outfits, these are the top five guidelines that should be followed:

    1. Research the organisation’s dress code and match the vibe
    2. Wear clothes that are clean and in good condition
    3. Don’t wear loud or busy patterns
    4. Don’t wear clothes with images or text
    5. Keep your accessories subtle and professional

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