what to wear to a job interview

So you’ve been scouring the wires looking for work, firing off cover letters and you’ve finally got a call back. Now it’s go-time. Figuring out what to wear to a job interview, however, can be a challenge

While the request for an interview is a really positive first step, it’s really just a first impression to evaluate who you are and what you look like. By now, everyone’s got the answers prepped to properly respond to “what’s your biggest weakness?” and everything else, so the job interview becomes a first look at how you act, how you speak and how you dress. With that in mind, we want you to be dressed for success. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of the most important dos and don’ts regarding what to wear to a job interview.

What To Wear To A Job Interview

A Suit & Tie

Seems generic? A little. Seems obvious? Yes. But the bottom line is this works. Few people will criticize you if you show up to a job interview wearing a suit. As a matter of fact, it’s exactly what you should wear.

People evaluate us based on the clothes we choose. A simple suit and tie is clean, classy and composed. Don’t go with anything too loud, like neon colours or swirly patterns. A safe colour like navy, grey or black suggests that you understand cultural norms and how to dress. After all, you want to look like you’re the professional who deserves the job.

Style Your Hair

OK, so maybe this isn’t something you “wear”, per se, but it’s an important part of your look: style your hair.

Regardless of what type of head of hair your working with (or lack thereof), make yourself look tidy. That means neat lines, gel if necessary and trimmed facial hair. If you have a beard, some conditioning and beard oil makes it far more pleasant to be around.

Hair is one of the aspects of your look that says a lot. That goes for any of the basic grooming like dirty or long fingernails, brushing your teeth and wearing deodorant. Needless to say, you will not look like the right fit if you fail to groom properly.

Wear Clothes That Fit

Baggy used to be trendy, but fitted is the way to go these days. When deciding what to wear to a job interview, if you’re dressing like you’re suited for a 1990’s NBA Draft or hip-hop video, you’re doing it wrong. It’s not that those are inappropriate these days but they do convey that you don’t understand the current fashion norms. Fitted is what’s in style these days.

The easiest thing to do is to visit a seamstress to get some help. They can measure you up and hem pants, taper shirts and do whatever needs to be done to make your clothes look like they fit you properly.

Wear Expensive Clothes

Wearing expensive clothes might seem like a shallow statement. Nevertheless, research shows that wearing brand names can increase your chances of getting hired. It’s not as if the manager you’re meeting is going to ask you to take your jacket off and display the brand name. But at the same time, a silent evaluation can happen.

What’s interesting is that the research from the Harvard Business Review showed that wearing luxury brands makes you seem more qualified for the job. Why is that the case? It’s mostly that having expensive clothes implies that you have money, which implies that you’re already successful.

What Not To Wear To A Job Interview


Now that we have looked at what to wear to a job interview, let’s now consider the faux pas when it comes to job interview clothes.

It might seem obvious, but it happens more often than you would think: don’t ever wear flip-flops to a job interview. Even if the job is lifeguarding at an outdoor pool in Las Vegas, that’s still not the proper attire.

The majority of workplaces frown upon open-toed footwear, particularly for men. And the odd time it’s acceptable is maybe if you’re called in during an emergency on a Saturday morning, it’s the dead of summer and nobody is around in the office.

It just conveys that you’re too casual to care. You don’t want to come across as sloppy the first time your meeting your potential employer.

Low-Rise Pants That Show Your Underwear

Everyone has a comfortable level that they wear their pants. However, it’s best not to make too many public statements about that range in a job interview. It’s best to conform with the norms. Even if you want to ride a bit low, make sure your shirt is tucked in and that there is no underwear visible.

For better or for worse, low-riding your jeans and showing off your boxers is not associated with success. The message you’ll be conveying is one of a careless and disheveled person.

Don’t Dress Too Casual

There are times when you don’t want to be too dressy. When choosing what to wear to a job interview, though, it’s best to err on the side of caution because you never want to be too casual.

Your potential boss will likely be in a button-down shirt – at the very least – if not a jacket or a full-on suit. The last thing you want is to pull up in your Hawaiian t-shirt with pineapples on it and your interviewer is completely formal.

Don’t Wear Too Much Cologne

A lot of questions during interviews are formalities. For the most part, every candidate knows what to expect and they rehearse their answer. That’s why non-verbal communication is monitored very closely, such as body language, attire or cologne. The last think you want is to have your cologne speak for you. It’s one thing to smell fresh and clean. It’s another to walk into a one-on-one meeting with something loud and obnoxious. A gentle spritz from a light scent is fine. Doing four sprays across your chest is going to be extremely overbearing.