What To Wear To An Interview

what to wear to an interview

What to wear for an interview is important because it makes sure you leave a good first impression. It can help convey to the interviewer that you respect the company and their time. But, it’s even more important to choose outfits that make you feel comfortable and self-confident. 

Figuring out what to wear to an interview can be surprisingly stressful. How you choose to dress during the process will help convey to your potential employer how much effort you put into things. You want to come across as capable, put together, and smart. But that can be a lot to ask from a simple pair of pants and a shirt. 

While your outfit should never be the most important thing, it should still be something you put some time and thought into. In this article, we’ll talk about why what you wear matters and some tips you can consider when choosing what to wear. 

Key Takeaways

  • Tailor your outfit to the type of job you’re applying to, and the industry the company is part of. 
  • While looking put together is important, being comfortable will ensure you’re in the best frame of mind for the interview process.
  • Research the company’s dress code in advance by looking at their website and social media channels. 

Why does your outfit matter?

When it comes to job interview success, your resume is only half the battle. The first and most important impression is made not when you meet your interviewer, but when you walk into the building. In fact, recent research shows that up to 93% of an interview decision may already have been made by the time an applicant first greets the interviewer.

This is because as much as we don’t want to admit it humans’ first impressions are always based on looks. While we’ve slowly moved away from having to look impeccable in order to get hired, there’s still some truth behind looking presentable. It also helps with self-confidence when you make an effort in your appearance. 

The key here is to dress for the occasion without letting go of who you are and what makes you comfortable.

How to know if you’re overdressed?

You probably don’t want to be overdressed for your job interview. But how can you tell what to wear for an interview without looking out of place? The first thing to keep in mind is that there’s no right answer. The most appropriate wardrobe for an interview depends on several factors, including the company culture and your personal style. 

The best way to determine what’s appropriate is to do some research beforehand. 

Look at their website and social media channels, reach out to current employees or alumni who have worked for them, and ask friends who have connections in similar companies about their dress code.

In the end, however, being overdressed shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if you have the qualifications for the job. In fact, if a company rejects you just because of what you were wearing it’s probably for the best. How you look should never overtake your skills.

Tips for understanding what to wear to an interview

The first thing you need to do is get your mind in the right place. A positive attitude can go a long way toward helping you succeed. But beyond that, there are some specific steps you can take to look your best during an interview and make sure you leave a lasting impression on your potential employer.

Stick to one color scheme

Wearing multiple colors in an outfit can be distracting for the interviewer and may make you look unprofessional. If you can, stick to one color scheme throughout your entire outfit. For shoes specifically, you’ll want to make sure they’re neutral and compliment the rest of the clothing you’re wearing. 

Keep accessories to a minimum

Accessories like necklaces, watches, and bracelets can be fun and add personality to an outfit. But too much can also take away from the focus being placed on you as a candidate during an interview. Avoid wearing more than one pair of earrings or other jewelry items that are large enough to be seen across the room. Unless they have deep personal meaning for you and represent something important or special about your character or personality.

Practice good hygiene

Take a shower and clean up before the interview — even if you’re feeling a little under the weather or not feeling your best, it’s worth making an extra effort to feel clean and fresh. Your body language will change noticeably when you take the time to wash up beforehand.

What to wear to an interview based on the industry

Depending on the industry you’re applying for, some clothing pieces might be more appropriate than others. Below we collected a few examples of what to wear to different types of job interviews. 

Keep in mind however that this list is not exhaustive, and there are always exceptions to every rule:

  • Corporate – If you’re interviewing for a finance position at a big bank or consulting firm, it’s safe to assume that everyone will be wearing business casual or professional attire. Which means no jeans or flip-flops.
  • Start-Ups – If you’re going in for an entry-level position at a small startup with a laid-back culture (think Google), it might be too much if everyone else is wearing jeans and T-shirts and you show up in a full suit. Casual tends to be better in these cases. 
  • Retail – This will likely follow a similar line as start-ups where you can be a bit more casual. Wearing a fashion style similar to the type the store sells is a great idea. It shows that you understand the brand and the potential clients. 
  • Hospitality – If you’re applying for a food service hospitality a good general rule is showing up in all black. Dress up a little if it’s an upscale restaurant, or more causal in dark jeans if it’s a more family-oriented eatery.
  • Blue-Collar – When it comes to more blue-collar jobs, wearing jeans and sneakers along with a clean shirt is generally acceptable. It reflects the casual and hands-on nature of the position.

Related Readings

Getting People Right (GPR) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in entrepreneurial leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional GPR resources below will be useful:

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