WHAT TO WEAR TO A JOB INTERVIEW: THE COMPLETE GUIDE

WHAT TO WEAR TO A JOB INTERVIEW: THE COMPLETE GUIDE

Finding the right clothes to wear for an interview can be as stressful as the interview itself. We all know that first impressions usually stick. Wearing clothes that look good on you and fit the style of the interviewing company can make all the difference when it comes to getting “that” job. This complete guide of what to wear to a job interview gives you guidelines to have you looking your best, feeling comfortable and ensuring you present as the perfect fit for the hiring organisation. 
Statistics show that 55% of first impressions are determined by the way you dress and walk through the door in a job interview while 65% of hiring managers say clothes can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates.
Researching and understanding the company’s culture immediately captures the interviewer’s attention so it’s important to dress the part. You will find a lot of relevant information on the company’s website. If there are images of the workforce this will tell you whether to opt for professional or smart casual dress. If you still have doubts, a quick phone call asking about their dress code is acceptable. Employers often deliberately leave dress details out of any correspondence so they can make their own judgments on how prospective employees have chosen to dress.
Whether you’re applying for a position in a formal business environment, interviewing for a more casual setting or chasing a hands-on labour role, this guide will help you pick the best job interview outfit.

INTERVIEW OUTFITS FOR MEN

No matter what type of job you are applying for, it’s important to look neat and tidy. It’s okay to show a little personality, however, it’s a good idea to avoid loud clothing choices such as ties with characters or noisy patterns. This section of the guide covers appropriate interview attire for four different types of work environments for both men and women.

Formal Business Environment

Business formal is seen as the standard interview dress code. When you are interviewing for a job with a company that requires business formal, it is critical to get it right.
If you know the company culture would align with business formal then these guidelines can help you dress successfully for your interview.
  • Wear a single-breasted, two-piece suit in dark colors.
  • The suit you wear should be a solid color or have small pinstripes.
  • White or light colored dress shirts are best.
  • Choose a conservative tie, avoid bow ties or busy patterns.
  • Wear dark shoes that are polished and free of scratches or stains.
  • Wear matching socks.
  • Avoid wearing strong cologne.
  • Carry your resume and documents in a briefcase or smart laptop bag.
  • Make sure all tattoos are covered and remove any body piercings.

Casual Business Environment

If you are interviewing for a position in IT or an environment where the dress code is a little more relaxed than formal business wear, then business casual may be appropriate for the interview. These guidelines will help you look professional without going over the top. Here are some appropriate clothing options for business casual.
  • Wear chinos or trousers, free of lint, holes and stains.
  • Wear a button up shirt with a collar.
  • Choose leather shoes that are polished and free of scratches or stains.
  • Wear matching socks.
  • Bring a satchel or briefcase to carry your resume and documents.
  • Avoid wearing jeans and shirts without collars.
  • Don’t wear open toe shoes.
  • Shave and get a haircut or if your hair is long, tie it back.
  • Make sure all tattoos are covered and remove any body piercings you may have.
  • For IT and creative industries, add a bit of personality to your outfit, contemporary styles will give you a more dynamic and energetic appearance and your employer is likely to view you as a more forward-thinking person that fits in with the team.

Casual Environment

Applying for a job at a cafe, small boutique, or a start-up can be tricky. Quite often these companies either have a set uniform or they have no uniform rules at all. If a company does have a standard uniform try mimicking the uniform in your choice of interview attire. You may be tempted to go very casual but remember, you still want to make a good impression and show that you have put effort into your interview preparation. If you have a casual interview coming up, follow these suggestions.
  • No matter what outfit you wear make sure it looks polished.
  • Leave jeans in the cupboard and opt for dark trousers or chinos.
  • Wear a collared polo or a buttoned shirt.
  • Leave the tie at home unless it is part of the company’s regular uniform.
  • A casual loafer will work with chinos, just ensure they are in good condition.
  • Shave and make sure your hair is neat and tidy.
  • Make sure all tattoos are covered and remove any body piercings you may have.
  • Don’t wear too much cologne.
  • Especially relevant if the job is in hospitality, ensure your nails are clean.

Worker Environment

If you are going for a job as a labourer, in a manufacturing plant or in an environment where you work outdoors all day, a suit and tie is not appropriate. You should still resist the urge to wear your favourite band t-shirt and worn out thongs. The key is to look at what other people are wearing in the company and then dress just a little better. If you are stuck for what to wear for your interview, follow these guidelines.
  • Wear your best jeans (that means no holes, worn out patches or stains).
  • Wear a belt with your jeans.
  • Pair your best jeans with a casual shirt like a polo shirt or a block colour t-shirt.
  • Do not wear shorts or any kind.
  • Avoid shirts that are too tight or short or that have graphics on the front.
  • Make sure your hair is neat and tidy and any facial hair is well-groomed.
  • Do not wear a hat to the interview.
  • Closed toe shoes in good condition are best.
  • Cover up any tattoos or body piercings with long sleeved shirts or long pants.

INTERVIEW OUTFITS FOR WOMEN

Whether you have an interview at a top firm in the city or if you’re looking for a job in a small start-up, choosing the right clothing is important. If you know someone that works at the company you are interviewing for, ask about the dress code. Stay away from loud clothing choices or too many accessories. This section of the guide covers appropriate clothing styles for four different types of interviews.

Formal Business Environment

Business formal is seen as the standard interview dress code, whether you are male or female. When you are interviewing for a job with a company that requires business formal, it is important to dress a little more formal than the company standard. If the company you are interviewing with embraces business formal, these guidelines will help you dress correctly.
  • If you prefer to wear skirts, wear a skirt suit in a dark colour.
  • When wearing tights make sure there are no ladders or holes.
  • Be sure the skirt you wear is knee length. Don’t get caught out! Remember when you sit down in the interview, your skirt will hike up a little.
  • A tailored jacket looks smarter than a loose fitting jacket.
  • The blouse or shirt you wear should be a solid colour.
  • If you prefer pants, opt for a pant suit.
  • Follow the same rules with dark colours and a solid colour blouse.
  • Closed toe shoes are appropriate, if you’re wearing heels stick to 2-6cm.
  • Keep your makeup light and natural.
  • Accessories and jewellery should be minimal with no OTT earrings or loud colours.
  • Avoid carrying large handbags and opt for a small to medium purse, briefcase or laptop bag.
  • Don’t wear strong perfume.
  • Hair should be neatly styled or tied back.
  • Make sure all tattoos and body piercings are covered.

 

Casual Business Environment

If you are interviewing for a position in IT or an environment where the company dress code is more relaxed, business casual style may be acceptable. The aim is to look professional without going over the top. These guidelines can help you make appropriate choices for a business casual interview.
  • Consider wearing a knee length skirt or a pair of slacks in a block colour.
  • When wearing tights, make sure there a no ladders or holes.
  • Pair the bottoms with a conservative, button up shirt.
  • Be sure that the shirt you choose is not low cut.
  • A shift dress is another good choice and when paired with a smart jacket.
  • Make sure all skirts and dresses are knee length or longer.
  • Covered toe shoes are a good choice, if you’re wearing heels stick to 2-6cm.
  • When dressing business casual, you can add some personal styling with accessories.
  • Avoid large bags and go with a handbag that matches your outfit.
  • Your hair should be neatly styled or tied back.
  • Make sure all tattoos and body piercings are covered.

Casual Environment

 

Applying for a position at a cafe, small start-up or a boutique clothing store can be harder when it comes to knowing what to wear. Many casual companies may have uniforms that you can follow as a basic guideline. If a company does not have a uniform try and find out what their employees wear to work. Remember you don’t want to go too casual, you still want to make a good impression. The following guidelines will help you choose the right outfit for a casual interview.

  • Wear smart slacks or dark coloured jeans, tailored jeans are often best for interviews.
  • A knee length or midi skirt can also work.
  • For shoes wear flats or small heels with closed toes.
  • Choose a blouse or shirt that fits well, avoiding low-cut tops.
  • A cropped cardigan can look smart without being too formal.
  • Casual interviews allow you to be a little bolder when it comes to accessories, choose just one or two pieces that show your personality.
  • Do not wear too much perfume.
  • Make sure all tattoos and body piercings are covered.
  • Your hair should be styled neatly or pulled back.

Worker Environment

If you are applying for work in an environment that is outdoors, or you are applying for manufacturing work, a pant suit is not the best option. This is especially true if the position includes getting dirty on the job. While a pant suit may not be appropriate, you will still need to look neat and tidy. Resist the urge to wear clothing that is worn or ripped. Here are some guidelines that can help you dress for your environment.
  • Wear the best jeans you own, free of worn out patches, holes and stains.
  • Pair your jeans with a nice shirt or blouse.
  • Avoid shirts that are too tight, short or have graphics on the front.
  • Wear a belt with your jeans to keep the look neat and tidy.
  • Wear your hair pulled back or neatly styled.
  • Do not wear a hat of any kind to the interview.
  • Covered toe shoes without a heel are best for a trades environment.
  • Cover up any tattoos or body piercings with long sleeved shirts or long pants.

Dressing for Success in Your Next Interview

The above guidelines will help you choose an outfit that is appropriate for any specific interview situation. A good rule of thumb – always dress a little better than the current employees are dressing. This will show that you are interested in the position and that you take pride in the way that you carry yourself.
If you are purchasing interview clothes you might want to purchase more than one set. Stick with the same guidelines but change your outfits up with a different shirt, skirt, or pair of pants. You may need to interview with the same company more than once and you don’t want to have to wear the same outfit twice.
No matter what you choose be sure that you are comfortable in what you are wearing. Being uncomfortable in your clothes could cause you to look nervous and awkward. Remember first impressions are lasting impressions.