What Should a Job Seeker Wear to an Interview?

Your behavior, interview skills, body language, and mannerisms will create an impact on anyone who meets you, and your clothes will too. In today’s job market, you have to be smart with your clothes, as your wardrobe is another way that you project the product that you are selling: yourself!

You want to impart the feeling of trustworthiness, professionalism, honesty, credibility, and business knowledge. Your clothes can help you obtain these objectives. If you don’t know the company dress culture, it is best to err on the side of caution. You want to present your best, most polished self.

Another thing to consider when picking out interview clothes is fit. Make sure the clothes you wear fit you – not too big or tight. It’s already a stressful situation; you want to look as natural and comfortable as possible.

The other thing to keep in mind is that you want the interviewer to be focused on what you’re saying and presenting in your resume. It’s never good for the hiring manager or others in the office to be distracted by what you are wearing. This means it is best practice to avoid too-loud prints or colors, or too many accessories. You can still show your personality through your clothes, but you want the interviewer to have the best impression of you. Interviewers are human, and you want to avoid wearing anything that might put them off or ignore your professional accomplishments.

  • Slacks, pants, and suit pants: Solid colors or subtle patterns, made of cotton or wool typically, which could be paired up with a dress shirt and jacket, are best. Avoid pants that are too baggy or have obvious wear.
  • Dresses, skirts, or skirted suits: A solid color or a subtle or neutral pattern is the way to go. Avoid lengths shorter than your knee, or that when seated will go up the leg and thigh.
  • Shirts and blouses: White dress shirts for men are the norm, but a neutral or light color, light blue or cream also work well. Shirts and blouses for women should also be in solid tones or subtle textures. Avoid patterns or bright colors that could distract the interviewer. No undergarments or cleavage should be shown. Cotton or silk fabrics are best for comfort and a professional look.
  • Shoes: Polished dress shoes never fail. Be conservative in style and color: black, navy, or brown. Open-toed shoes should be avoided. You don’t want anyone to concentrate on your shoes instead of what you have to say.
  • Accessories: Coco Chanel said it best: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Accessories aren’t by any means frowned upon, but they should stay an accessory and not take center stage. Ties, hair clips, silk scarves, small earrings, a watch, and necklaces (one is enough) are all acceptable. Head coverings that honor religion or cultural tradition are also accepted.

What Not to Wear

Do not wear technology headpieces, untucked or unfitted shirts, wrinkled clothing, miniskirts, sandals, sneakers, hats, wool scarves, big buckle belts, sheer materials, casual handbags or backpacks, spaghetti straps. Keep any makeup to a natural, daytime look.

The Question of Tattoos

Tattoos are being more and more accepted in the workplace. However, for the interview and especially if you are interviewing for a client-facing role or will be representing the company in public, make sure you can cover any tattoos with your clothing. A small tattoo showing – about the size of an Oreo or smaller – is likely fine, as long as it is not offensive or controversial. Excessive neck, hand, or facial tattoos should be covered as best as possible with make-up that matches your skin tone.

What to include in a job offer.