Dress for the Interview

Appearances shouldn’t matter, but they do when it comes to an interview. You will be judged to a certain extent by your attire. A clean, buttoned-up look is reassuring to prospective employers while an ill-thought-out fashion choice can harm your candidacy. For most interviews, this means a more conservative hairstyle, covering those tattoos, or taking out that nose ring. There are industries and organizations that welcome applicants with a more edgy and urban look. Research the organization’s dress code policy and their company culture. Remember that an interview requires more professional attire than you might wear after being hired.

Bottom line: You want to be remembered after your interview, but not for your outfit. Make the right impression by following the suggestions in our gallery.

Casual Attire for Men
Professional Attire for Men
Professional Attire for Women
Casual Attire for Women
Business Casual
for men

Cuff links are generally not required for the business-casual look. Often, a pair of pressed flat-front khakis and a sport coat will suffice, but you’ll still need to retain a bit of a formal look. Keep in mind that you should dress more formally for the interview than you would for the job itself.

Stick to dress pants, button-down shirts, black or brown leather shoes, and a matching belt. This will ensure a polished, professional, business-casual ensemble.

Remember, no denim!

Find a full-length mirror to appraise your final look.

Professional Attire
for men

If you’re considering a position in finance, law, government, or human resources, then a suit is a must. It should be dark and conservative. Don’t worry about appearing more formal than the interviewer. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Don’t let an ill-fitting suit send the wrong message. Find yourself a good tailor. The right one can make a $100 suit look like a million bucks.

Don’t forget about formal outerwear. You’re often wearing a coat when you meet someone for the first time. A trench coat or wool pea coat works well. Avoid ski jackets.

Professional Attire
for women

Potential employers will expect you to dress professionally. And if you’re interviewing in sectors such as government, business, legal, finance, and administration, you’ll want to come across as conservative and well-groomed. A pant or skirt suit or a tailored dress with a jacket works well. Think basic and conservative. It’s okay to be dressed more formally than your interviewer.

To see if your skirt or dress is an appropriate length, sit down in front of a mirror. It should fall no more than 2 inches above the knee. And remember: what you see is what they see.

Make sure you’re comfortable in your clothes. Wear the suit and break in the shoes around the house.

Business Casual
for women

If you’re pursuing work in certain fields, such as high-tech, media, or technology support, you may be able to relax your wardrobe a bit (but not too much) depending on the organization and role. When it comes to “business casual,” timeless is best. Longer skirts and pants and higher necklines are safe bets. Knee-length skirts are fine, too. As for color, think: black, gray, brown, and navy blue.

Unsure whether your outfit is indeed “business casual”? Ask yourself: “Would I wear this for a meeting with President Brown?” When in doubt, it's always best to err on the side of conservative.

Avoid trendier pieces even if your interview is at a technology company or creative ad agency. Skirts should not be too tight, and if it has a slit, it should only be in the back.

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