If you’re nervous about what to wear to your interview, I’ve got some tips for you.

First, remember that this is a business meeting—not a date. You need to look professional and put-together. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it! You can show off your personality by wearing something that makes you feel good about yourself, as long as it’s not too out of the ordinary—wear something that’s familiar, but still makes a statement.

You also want to be comfortable enough so that you can focus on answering questions rather than worrying about your outfit. Don’t wear sweatpants! It’s fine if they’re stylish sweatpants (and they do exist), but try to avoid anything too comfy or baggy unless it’s part of the look you’re going for (like a sweatshirt with jeans).

And finally: dress up! Even if it’s just a small button-up shirt and nice pants (or skirt), go for it! It’ll make you feel more confident and ready to rock whatever question comes at you during the interview process.

You can’t banish all the stress of an interview, but at least you don’t have to second guess what to wear. The night before your big interview you should fall asleep knowing that a professional, appropriate outfit is laid out waiting for you. Here’s what you need to know.

What to wear to an interview

When in doubt, think formal, sober and professional

The formal interview – suits are a must

Most job interviews are considered to be formal, unless the dress code says otherwise – and that means wearing a suit. Women can also opt for a smart dress or (just possibly) an especially nice blouse and no jacket. The latter is a risk you don’t want to take unless you have to.

Try to be conventional

It’s important to be memorable at your interview, but you’d rather be remembered as ‘the one who goes skydiving at weekends’, than as ‘the one in the bright red shirt’. Give yourself the best chance by dressing in a way that’s simple, understated and traditional. Opt for dark grey or navy, and only play with things like pinstripes if you’re 100% sure you know what you’re doing.

With everything else, such as shoes, ties, bags, tights and scarves, play it safe. Keep the colours muted. Orange is a gigantic no-no (even though we love it here at Bright Network); yellow, red and pink are pushing it.

Yes, sorry, you’ll look a bit boring. That’s the point. Let your personality shine, not your clothes.

Tips for women:

  • Don’t overdo the jewellery – nothing too chunky or dangly. Also avoid anything that gives you the urge to fiddle with it.
  • Keep the heels moderate (3 inches max) but avoid completely flat shoes unless you really need them. Be sure to coordinate – navy with navy suits, black with grey.
  • No cleavage – it looks unprofessional.
  • Wear tights, even in summer.
  • If you opt for a dress instead of a suit, it needs to be sleek, sculpted and mostly a solid dark colour. 

Tips for men:

  • Ties should be low key. This is no place for comedy or cartoon characters.
  • Wear black leather shoes and a matching belt. Brown shoes are for light grey or linen suits, which aren’t really suitable.
  • Go for a plain shirt in a traditional colour – white or pale blue. Beware of pink!
  • Your suit needs to fit you well. Get yourself measured and fitted by a professional. If you’re on a budget, ask about sale items, and if that’s no good, take the useful info somewhere cheaper. Different high street shops suit different body shapes, so shop around.
  • Avoid ostentation. Don’t be the guy with the pocket square.

Tips for non-binary:

If you don’t feel comfortable in the traditional uniform of either gender, there are benefits to dressing your own way. Firstly, you’ll feel and look more confident. Secondly, if your potential employer can’t handle that much at interview, you’re unlikely to find a positive work environment at the company.

  • Waistcoats are your friend here – a three piece suit is formal but can have an androgynous vibe if you leave off the tie.
  • Non-traditional haircuts must be immaculately groomed. Natural colours are preferable.
  • No matter what you wear, it needs to be well-fitting, good quality, pressed and pristine.

What is business casual?

If your interviewer specifically states a business casual dress code, they may just be saving you the hassle of getting a suit – or they may be judging your ability to fit in. You need to hit the right mark for the company. Inside info is a help here. If possible, aim to dress slightly smarter than the person interviewing you.

The key rules:

  • No suits. It’s fine to wear a jacket, but it should be the light, stylish kind, paired with a non-matching skirt or trousers.
  • No jeans, trainers or t-shirts. If you’d wear it to lounge around at home, it’s not the right look.
  • For the guys, you absolutely must wear a collared shirt. Add a light wool sweater, jacket, tie, or all of the above as you like.
  • Women, pair a nice blouse with formal trousers or a skirt. If you go with a dress, you can get away with something more flowing than you’d wear to a formal interview, but avoid anything strappy.
outfits for every type of interview
Ashley DeLeon / The Balance

What’s the best outfit to wear to a job interview? The answer will vary depending on the type of job and company you’re interviewing with. You always want to dress to make the best impression, but the outfit you choose depends on whether you’re interviewing at a company with a formal dress code, at a casual startup, or for an informal summer job or internship.1

Dressing appropriately is important because the first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing.

If you wear a suit to an interview for a camp counselor, or a T-shirt to an interview at a bank, it’ll send the message that you don’t truly understand what’s involved in the role. 

Find out what to wear (and what not to wear) for interviews at every type of company: 

Professional / Business Interview Attire

Business man and woman using a digital tablet and having a meeting, coworkers
Lisa5201 / Getty Images

Generally, a job interview calls for you to wear professional, or business, attire.

For men, this might mean a suit jacket and slacks with a shirt and tie or a sweater and button-down. For women, a blouse and dress pants or a statement dress is appropriate.

You can also incorporate some modern style trends into your outfit. All interviewees should consider color when selecting an interview outfit and avoid wearing anything too bright or flashy that will distract the hiring manager.

Interview Outfits for Women

Woman leaving job interview
  Luis Alvarez / DigitalVision / Getty Images

The more important thing to consider when you’re dressing for a job interview is that you should look professional and polished regardless of the type of position you’re seeking.

Even though your interview attire depends on the role you’re applying for, no matter what the position, you should go to the interview looking neat, tidy, and well-dressed. Here’s how to make the best impression at every interview you go on.

Interview Outfits for Men

Businesswoman welcoming man to meeting
Morsa Images / Getty Images

It can be challenging to put a professional interview outfit together. Here are some basic tips for men on how to dress for an interview, including what colors to wear, whether to wear a tie (and what kind), and more.

Non-Professional / Business Casual Interview Attire

Group of business people working on computer
Pando Hall / Getty Images

If you have a job interview in a more informal work environment, you might wear a business casual outfit. Business casual outfits are less formal than a suit, but they are also more professional and polished than, say, a T-shirt and shorts or a sundress and sandals.

Of course, make sure you know the dress code before you assume that business casual is acceptable. If you aren’t sure, call the office and ask the administrative coordinator, or contact the person who scheduled the interview and ask them for advice.

Always dress a bit more professionally than the average employee at the company. If everyone is wearing shorts and T-shirts, for example, you might wear khakis and a Polo shirt or button-down.

Casual Interview Attire

Start-up Team
Georgijevic / Getty Images

If you have an interview at a startup company, nix the head-to-toe formal business attire. You want to look appropriate and professional, but not too formal.

Rather than showing up in a black suit and dress shoes, opt for something that is relaxed but still presentable: relaxed-fit khakis, dark-wash jeans, and a nice top, for example.

College Job Interview Attire

College students
Delmaine Donson / Getty Images

Make sure to dress professionally when interviewing for a professional job or internship as a college student. It’ll show that you’ll know how to behave in a professional manner if you’re hired. 

Less formal attire is acceptable when interviewing for campus jobs and more informal workplace jobs. However, you still want to dress professionally for most positions, even if they are entry-level. Review these tips for college women and college men on what to wear to an interview, as well as what to wear for an interview for an internship. 

Internship Interview Attire

Young woman using a smartphone
Geri Lavrov / Getty Images

Internships are an important part of career development, and as with any job, acing your interview is one part of getting the position you want. Making a great first impression–coming across as polished, professional, and attentive–is important when it comes to your internship search.

Here’s what to wear for an internship interview based on whether the company environment is formal, casual, or somewhere in between.

Summer Job Interview Attire

Restaurant manager reading resume and interviewing young woman for job
Steve Debenport / Getty Images

Are you interviewing for a summer job? Typically, these jobs are more casual and do not require professional attire. You can skip the suit. However, you still want to look polished and professional.

Here are tips on what to wear to make the best impression, including interview attire for male and female applicants, what to bring with you, and how to dress for a casual interview.

Warm Weather Interview Attire

Two women at a job interview
Tim Kitchen / Stone / Getty Images

Do you have an interview in the hot summer months? There are a few things you can do to look professional but still feel cool in a job interview.

Review tips on what to wear for a warm-weather interview depending on the work environment and type of job.

How to Choose Interview Accessories

Business woman looking over papers
eclipse_images / Getty Images

When wearing accessories to an interview, less is more. Choose accessories that will enhance your interview attire, not overwhelm it. 

Best Job Interview Hairstyles

Smiling senior businesswoman in discussion with client in office conference room
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

There are lots of ways to style your hair for a job interview. While some options are trendy and others are more traditional, remember that your hairstyle should not distract the employer. You will want your hair to be professional and polished, like your entire outfit.

Here are the best job interview hairstyles for short, medium-length, and long hair. 

How to Do Your Makeup for a Job Interview

Woman holding cell phone applying lipstick
JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Like your hair, your makeup should not distract the interviewer. This is not the time for bold lipstick or a glittery eye shadow. Instead, keep makeup subtle and unobtrusive. 

Check out these interview makeup do’s and don’ts before you get ready to interview.

What Not to Wear on an Interview

Business woman interviewing another woman
Photo-Biotic / Getty Images

When you are dressing for a job interview, image really is everything (or most of it). An unprofessional outfit can distract an interviewer from seeing your great qualities.

Here’s what not to wear when you are interviewing for a new job.

And finally…

Remember, you’ll ultimately be judged on your demeanour more than your clothes. But if you feel like a million pounds in your outfit, you’ll get a big confidence boost – and it’ll show.

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