How to Dress for a Job Interview: What You Should and Shouldn't Wear

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jul 11, 2019

Jul 11, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Congratulations! You scored that job interview with the company you've been waiting to hear back from. It's the moment you've been waiting for and there's no room for mistakes.

Now is your chance to prove to the company why you'd make the perfect candidate. However, sometimes even the best resume isn't enough to land your dream job. When preparing for a job interview, it's important to know what you should and shouldn't wear. 

Your outfit decision could potentially make or break your interview. Before heading out the door for your big moment, be sure to know how to dress for a job interview. Continue reading below to learn more!

First You'll Need to Do Some Research

The first step in deciding what to wear for your job interview is to do some research. If this is a company that you truly want to work for, then you'll have no problem taking the time to research the company's culture, values, dress code, and more. Browse their website and try finding pictures where employees' outfits are visible. 

Some company websites list the names of employees. Look these names up on LinkedIn and see what they're wearing. Doing research is a great way to get a feel for the type of dress code the company has, which affects your interview attire decision. 

If you're still not sure, a good tip to follow is to overdress when in doubt. If you see employees on the website wearing casual clothing, but you're not sure if that'd be suitable for your interview, then take it up a notch and find a business casual outfit. 

Three Different Kinds of Dress Codes for Interviews

There are three main kinds of dress codes that companies usually stick to. Because you want to match your interview attire to the company's attire, it's important to know the three different types of dress codes and then determine which one the company you're interviewing with follows. Once you know which dress code to follow, find some tips and tricks for finding clothing that compliments your body. 

Below, we discuss these three types and what makes them different from one another. 

Business Professional

A company that follows a business professional dress code has its employees wear suits. Women at the company might wear a pantsuit or a skirt with a dressy top and jacket with heels. Men at the company might wear a suit or blazer with a button-down shirt, tie, and dress shoes. 

If you notice employees wearing these items at the company, then you should wear a business professional outfit for your interview. 

Business Casual

A company that follows a business casual dress code has its employees wear nice clothing, but not necessarily suits. Women at the company might wear a skirt with a blouse and sweater with dress shoes or a conservative dress or dress pants. Men at the company might wear dress slacks with a button-down shirt or even a polo shirt with a belt and dress shoes. 

If you notice employees wearing these items at the company, then feel free to mimic their outfits for your interview. 

Casual 

A company that follows a casual dress code has its employees wear very laid-back outfits. Women at the company might wear a work dress, a collared shirt with pants, or a pencil skirt. Men at the company might wear khaki pants with a dress shirt. Employees in a casual atmosphere might also wear a pair of jeans and flip flops. 

If you notice employees wearing these items at the company, then you know it's a casual atmosphere, however, you'll want to dress more on the business casual side until you have the job unless told otherwise. Some casual dress companies let their interview-ees know in advance that casual wear for the interview is acceptable. 

What You Shouldn't Wear to an Interview

Now that you know exactly what you should wear for your job interview, let's discuss what you absolutely shouldn't wear. Knowing what not to wear helps you put together the ideal interview outfit because you'll avoid all of the big don'ts. 

The Don'ts

Listed below are a couple of things you don't want to wear for your job interview no matter what kind of dress code the company has.

  • Don't wear clothes that make you feel uncomfortable
  • Don't wear revealing clothing
  • Don't wear clothing with stains, pet hair, or rips
  • Don't wear too much perfume or cologne 
  • Don't wear wrinkled clothing
  • Don't wear too flashy or bright clothing

Your interview is your very first impression that you give to the company. You don't want to distract the interviewer with flashy clothes and an overwhelming amount of perfume or cologne. Keep it simple, but keep it a clean cut.

What You Shouldn't Bring to an Interview

The very last thing to consider before heading out the door for your job interview is what you shouldn't be carrying along with you. Although they might seem obvious, you'd be surprised how easy it is to forget that you have these items on you when entering the interview. Before you leave your house or car for the interview, do a double-check and make sure you leave all of these items behind.

  • Coffee or soda
  • Gum
  • Piercings 
  • Tattoos

Yes, we understand that you can't simply leave your tattoos at home, but you can do your best to cover them if possible. This shouldn't be too difficult since you don't want any revealing clothing anyways. For piercings, it's best to leave only earrings in when possible. 

Do You Know How to Dress For a Job Interview?

If you're not sure how to dress for a job interview, then these simple tips should help prepare you. Research the company's dress code and dress accordingly. Remember, if you're ever in doubt, dress up not down. Avoid all the big "don'ts," and you'll be on your way to a wonderful job interview experience!

Interested in more topics about careers? Check back with our Career Blog section regularly and be sure to browse through our Job Alerts section for a chance at landing another great interview!