Interviews can be one of the most nerve-wracking parts of a job application. It’s stressful enough preparing for possible questions, but more so when you think of what to wear in an interview.
While this might seem minor in contrast to your answering skills, the reality is that your interview attire plays a massive role in how employers evaluate you. Of course, your qualifications still matter the most, but the way you present yourself can also affect their perception. For example, in a survey of over 1,000 interviews, 95% said that an applicant’s appearance is a reflection of their professionalism.
So, to ease your worries and help you out, here’s a guide detailing appropriate interview outfits for men and women. Regardless of what job you’re applying for, it’s important to look neat and presentable to leave a good first impression on your potential employer.
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How to Decide What to Wear in an Interview
It can be tricky deciding what to wear for a job interview since dress codes vary per company. Some have professional settings that require formal attire, whereas others are less uptight and have a more casual dress code.
Either way, you want to make sure you wear something appropriate for your interview. The last thing you want is to underdress or overdress since this might show recruiters that you aren’t fit for the company’s culture and environment. So to avoid sending this message, here are a few things you can do to figure out what type of interview attire you should prepare.
Research the Company
You may have already done this in your initial application, but your goal now is to try to see what employees usually wear in the workplace. First, look at the company’s website to get a feel of their culture or environment. Some may be more corporate and formal, while others are more friendly and casual.
Likewise, you can check the company’s social media accounts to see if you can find pictures of other employees. This can give you some idea of what the company dress code is. But if you still can’t find any information from these sites, you can call your recruiter to ask about it.
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Understand Different Dress Codes
If you’re a new applicant with little to no experience preparing job interview outfits, it helps to understand the differences in company dress codes. Generally, you can categorize your options into three main types:
- Business Formal. This is the most formal dress code, which often applies to traditional business settings like banking, accounting, finance, law, and consulting. It’s sometimes also called business professional attire and refers to the standard crisp and unwrinkled full match suit.
- Business Casual. This is the most common type of interview attire since it sits in the middle of casual and formal. While there’s no one way to define this, business casual is usually described as being more lenient than traditional business wear but still professional-looking.
- Casual. This is the most informal category of the three. Technically, it isn’t really a dress code since you’re not bound by rules and can wear comfortable clothing. But of course, even with a casual culture, you should still wear something appropriate. Some examples of clothes that aren’t suitable for the workplace include gym attire and sleepwear.
Interview Outfits for Women
It can be challenging to find the right interview clothes for women, especially with all the options. Generally, it’s best to stick with conservative colors like black, white, navy blue, or gray for interviews to maintain professionalism. However, if you want to inject some personality into your outfit, you can add a splash of color with subtle shades like powder pink or light blue.
Now, to help you differentiate what specific clothes fall under each dress code, here are some guidelines you can follow:
For business formal attire, you can opt for a traditional suit combination consisting of a solid-colored blouse and blazer, slacks, and closed-toe shoes like pumps or ballet flats. If you prefer wearing pants, it’s advisable to go with a pantsuit to get a matching pair of pants and suit jacket.
Alternatively, you can also wear a knee-length dress with a blazer or replace the slacks with a knee-length skirt. Whatever the case, keep your hair neat and makeup light and natural. You can wear accessories, but keep it minimal and don’t use loud pieces since they can be distracting.
The standard business casual attire for women includes a professional top, dress pants, and closed-toe shoes. For the top, you can wear a classic button-down shirt or a presentable blouse, provided that it’s not low cut.
You can also swap the pants for a skirt or opt for a dress instead if you prefer. Regardless, make sure your skirt or dress is at least knee-length. Likewise, if you’ll be pairing these with tights, double-check that there aren’t any holes or ladders.
Since business casual is slightly more relaxed, you can be a bit more playful with your accessories. However, don’t go overboard since you still want to look polished. For example, a pair of pearl studs or gold hoop earrings can go a long way.
If you’re preparing for a casual job interview, like in a new startup or cafe, you naturally still want to look presentable. Generally, you can wear a regular t-shirt or blouse as long as they aren’t too revealing. As for bottoms, you have plenty of options—jeans, knee-length or midi skirts, tailored pants, and others.
In terms of shoes, you can go for the standard closed-toe shoes or boots. But if you prefer open-toed options, you can opt for a pair of dressy sandals, but not flip-flops or slippers!
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Interview Outfits for Men
In most cases, choosing interview outfits for men is not as complicated as for women since there’s less variation in the types of clothes you can wear. Similar to the case for women, it’s also best to stick with conservative colors like black, gray, navy blue, or khaki for men’s suits. Likewise, you can never go wrong with white shirts, but you can also wear navy or stripes in some instances.
Again, to help you distinguish between different dress codes, here are guidelines on preparing an interview attire for men:
Business formal attire for men essentially means a full match suit with a solid-colored tie. You can opt for a two-piece or three-piece suit with a white or light-colored dress shirt. Pair this with a pair of polished dark-colored shoes with matching socks, then keep accessories to a minimum. In most cases, it’s already enough to have a watch.
For a business casual interview, you usually have more relaxed options. You can wear a button-down shirt with chinos, trousers, or dress pants and leather shoes in matching socks to keep it simple. Other options include a polo shirt with slacks or even a sweater on top of a button-down shirt with slacks. Generally, the rule of thumb is to wear a collared top and no jeans.
When it comes to casual wear, a good choice will be to pair some chinos or jeans with a buttoned shirt or collared polo and loafers for shoes. Of course, you can also wear a regular t-shirt, but as much as possible, make sure it’s a solid color and doesn’t have graphic drawings. Likewise, you should still make sure your hair is neat.
What Not to Wear in an Interview
Now that you’ve gotten a better idea of what to wear in an interview, here are just some reminders on what not to wear in an interview. These can make you look unprofessional and leave the wrong impression on a hiring manager, so remember to avoid the following:
- Flashy and bright colors
- Loud accessories
- Ripped jeans or shorts
- Shirts with too-low necklines
- Strapless tops and dresses
- Athletic clothes like leggings
- Heavy perfume or cologne
- Excessive makeup
Dress for Success with Your Job Interviews through Bridges Staffing Agency
Ultimately, it’s important to dress appropriately for any job interview to display professionalism and show that you value your opportunity.
If you’re seeking high-quality career opportunities, Bridges Staffing Agency has you covered. As a premier employment agency, we connect job applicants with companies seeking to fill vacant positions. Based on your skills and credentials, we’ll match you with suitable openings to help you land a job interview. And when this happens, we’re confident that you’ll know what to wear in an interview.
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