What to Wear and Avoid Wearing to an Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 30, 2022 | Published May 17, 2021

Updated June 30, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Business Formal vs. Business Casual: What to Wear to an Interview

How do you dress for an interview? And how does business casual look different than business formal? Get answers to these questions and more tips on business attire.

Deciding what to wear to an interview is an important part of the preparation process. Successful job interviews depend on how you present yourself and the way you answer questions. A smart, professional appearance convinces the interviewer that you're an excellent fit for the company. In this article, we'll discuss some tips for choosing the right interview outfit to make the best first impression.

Research the office dress code

Research the business to find out how formal the office dress code is and how people there normally dress for a regular day at the office. A company's social media page often features photos of people in the office, and you'll find some examples of acceptable everyday attire. Always dress more formally for an interview than you would for daily work.

For example, if you're interviewing at a startup where most people wear t-shirts and jeans, choose a business casual outfit like dress pants and a collared shirt. That way, you present professionally without being overly formal. If you're not sure what to wear, or the business has a strict dress code, choose professional attire like a suit with pants or a skirt. You can always take off your suit jacket for a slightly more relaxed look.

Related: How to Learn More About a Company's Culture

What should women wear to an interview?

Here are some items that make a good interview outfit for a woman:

A simple, professional top

Wear a top that's comfortable, professional and conservative. Choose a button-down shirt with a cardigan or a simple blouse with a blazer or a knit sweater. Another option is to wear a simple dress with a cardigan or jacket.

Dress pants or a skirt

Pair your top with slacks or a pencil skirt that's knee-length or longer. If you're wearing a button-down shirt, tuck it into your pants or skirt for a polished look.

Comfortable shoes with closed toes

Black or brown flats, pumps or low heels with closed toes are best. Make sure your shoes aren't scuffed, scratched or dirty, and wear them at least once before your interview to make sure they're comfortable. If the hiring manager gives you a quick tour of the office and you're distracted by your footwear, focusing and asking intelligent questions could be difficult. They may also be distracted if you look uncomfortable.

Simple accessories

Keep your jewelry choices simple and professional. Avoid chunky, large or distracting bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Instead, wear simple hoop or stud earrings, a delicate necklace and one or two simple bracelets that don't jangle. If you wear nail polish, make sure is subtle and not chipped.

What should men wear to an interview?

Here are some items that suit men going for interviews:

A collared shirt with long sleeves

Wear an ironed button-down shirt with long sleeves, that has a collar and is a light colour. Tuck the shirt into your pants and make sure it fits well. For a more formal look, add a tie, a vest or a jacket.

Chinos or dress pants

Light-coloured chinos or khakis are great options for an interview, especially in the summer. You can also wear dark dress pants if you prefer. Iron your pants and make sure they're the right length. If they're a bit too long or too short, you can have them altered for a better fit.

Dark shoes with matching socks

Choose black or brown, freshly polished dress shoes that complement the rest of your outfit. Wear dark socks that match or blend in with your shoes. Work boots, hiking boots and sneakers aren't appropriate office attire and are therefore not suitable for an interview.

Simple accents

Wear a classic wristwatch with a metal or leather band and a ring to your interview for a tasteful, refined look. However, earrings, necklaces and bracelets don't suit a polished professional style. Always wear a leather belt that matches your shoe colour and choose something with a subtle buckle. You can coordinate your outfit further by adding a pocket square or handkerchief to your blazer pocket. Make sure it matches your tie or shirt.

Related: Types of Business Attire for Men (With Professional Tips)

What colours should people wear to interviews?

The best colours for an interview are neutral, like black, navy blue, gray or brown. White is a good shade for a simple shirt or blouse, and you can add other feature colours to your interview outfit to showcase your personality. Colours convey emotion and impact subconscious thoughts, so choosing a shade that gives interviewers a good impression is important. Here are some of the most common colour choices for interview outfits and what they convey:

Black

This shade represents sophistication, leadership and exclusivity. It's best in interviews for supervisory or managerial positions. You can wear a black shirt, jacket, skirt or pants, but break it up with a splash of colour or white to balance the outfit.

Blue

This colour exudes confidence and trust. It tells hiring managers you're a team player who cares about others. Choose a brighter shade of blue to look more confident and fun, and select navy blue or a similar colour for more conservative, professional jobs.

Grey

People associate grey with independence, intelligence and analytical skills. It complements bright colours, so pairs well with a bright tie or handbag.

White

Wearing white or beige shows that you're neat and organized. However, limit this colour to a simple shirt. A white suit jacket, pants or dress could be difficult to keep clean and don't look as professional as other shades and colours.

Brown

This colour communicates dependability and reliability. However, wearing too much brown is old-fashioned, so balance your outfit with other complementary colours.

Red

Red conveys passion, power, energy, excitement and courage. It's an excellent choice if you're pitching a new idea to a business or applying to a leadership position at a startup looking for passionate people. Red is such a strong colour that too much can be distracting. Be sure to choose understated, deep shades of red, like burgundy for dresses or suit jackets. For smaller pieces or accessories, you can use splashes of bold, brighter shades of red that still keep your outfit looking professional.

Yellow

Yellow makes you seem optimistic, cheerful, outgoing, creative and intelligent. A pale yellow shirt or blouse pairs well with a grey suit. Bright yellows are too vibrant and distracting for a professional interview outfit.

Purple

Purple gives the impression that you're artistic and creative. It can also make you seem introverted or independent. Understated shades of purple are suitable for interview wear.

Green

People often associate green with peace, safety and healing. It's a brilliant choice for people who work in health care, conservation or education. Choose dark shades of green to look more professional and lighter green for a more creative style.

Finding an excellent interview outfit

When you shop for an interview outfit, look for a style that encourages people to focus more on your qualifications than your clothing choices. Wear solid colours, since busy patterns can be distracting. This is especially true on video calls where you may not have access to great lighting or a quality webcam. If you do wear a pattern, make sure it's subtle.

Select classic styles instead of trying to follow the latest trends. That way, your interview outfits will last for years, and you can mix and match items like jackets and shirts with your regular work wardrobe.

Search for items with even stitching, durable fabric, and wrinkle-resistant properties. Wool, cashmere and synthetic fabrics like polyester stay wrinkle-free for longer. When you find a brand or style you like, get a few pairs of pants and shirts in common colours. Then, choose the colour you want to wear based on the company and the impression you want to convey.

If you're not sure what outfit is best for your next interview, speak to a personal shopper. These professionals work as independent contractors or retail employees and assist you with choosing an outfit that highlights your best qualities. Along with shopping, they'll help you look through your closet and decide what to wear from your existing wardrobe.

After you find the outfit, consider alterations. Moving a button, adding some darts to a shirt, or changing the length of a pair of pants can turn a good outfit into a great one. A perfect fit makes you look and feel better, and therefore more confident in your interview.

Related: A Guide to Business Professional Attire (With Tips)

What not to wear to an interview

No matter how informal a potential workplace is, there are some things that you should never wear to an interview:

Overly casual clothing

Stay away from tank tops, shorts, flip-flops, sneakers and other items that would be more appropriate at a gym or beach than at a workplace. Your outfit should look more formal than those already working at the company.

Related: Guide to Business Casual Attire

Visible underwear

This includes bra straps or the top of your underwear showing above your pants. Choose underwear that blends in with your skin tone so it doesn't show through and avoid clothing that could be too revealing.

Perfume or cologne

Some people are allergic to the ingredients in perfume and cologne. Others find it unpleasant or distracting.

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