What to wear to a job interview

Interviewing for a new position can be an exciting step in your career. But whether moving into a more senior role or transitioning to a new field, you may be unsure of what to wear to a job interview. As remote work increases in popularity, virtual interviews are changing expectations as well—which means there’s a lot to consider for those looking to get a job.

Your interview appearance could help you show off your soft skills and even land the role. This guide will help you assess a company’s culture and make an informed decision about how to dress for a job interview.

Key takeaways

  • Interviewees can research the company’s culture and dress code by checking with human resources and the workplace’s online presence to help decide what to wear to an interview.
  • A general rule of thumb is to dress a step up from employees’ everyday attire.
  • Whether you opt for business casual or professional, it’s good to ensure your appearance is neat, tidy and industry appropriate.
A group of employees in casual clothing chat at work.

Research company culture before an interview

Knowing what to wear to a job interview usually starts with researching the company’s everyday business attire. That way, you don’t overdress or underdress. Here are a few ways to learn more about the company culture.

Consult human resources 

To know a company’s dress code, it may be worth going straight to the source—the company’s human resources department. HR can usually answer questions like “What do people normally wear when interviewing at your company?” or “What is the day-to-day dress code for employees?” You could also ask the recruiter or hiring manager for guidance. Showing initiative might even set you apart from other candidates.

Visit the website

A company’s website will typically have information about their culture and may even show photos of current employees. If the website content reads formally, you could assume employees might also dress formally. If it reads more casually, you might be able to dress accordingly. Browsing the website is also a chance to learn more about the company and consider some questions to ask during your interview.

Check social media

Many companies today have a social media presence that showcases business accomplishments, events and company culture. A company’s social media may show you how people dress and act in the workplace.

Professional interview attire by industry

Traditionally, the attire for a job interview is business professional. But you may be wondering, what does a particular business deem professional?

For example, a tech startup might consider dark jeans and a polo professional attire, while a financial or law company might prefer a full suit. Here’s a look at what you might want to wear to your interview based on the type of workplace.

Professional work environments

A good rule of thumb is to dress a level above the typical dress code for a business. For example, if employees typically wear casual clothing like jeans or sundresses, consider taking it up a notch by dressing in business casual for the interview. In this scenario, a button-up shirt and tie or dress pants and a blouse might work nicely.

Two employees in business casual meet in the office.

If employees regularly wear business casual clothing, then you may want to go with a more business professional outfit—like a matching suit with dress shoes.

Labor-intensive work environments

If you have an interview in the labor industry, like with a manufacturing plant or an outdoor construction site, a suit may not be the best option. Instead, it might be appropriate to wear pants and a button-up shirt or polo.

A person wears boots outside a factory.

Labor-intensive businesses have a heightened awareness of safety—especially when it comes to footwear. If you’re interviewing at a workplace with a lot of slip hazards, you could wear nonslip shoes to show your readiness. If you’re interviewing with a business in the outdoor or construction industry, it might be wise to wear work boots or other safety-rated shoes.

Virtual interviews

In today’s work environment, it’s not uncommon to interview virtually. Whether you’ll be working from home or heading to the office or factory floor five days a week, many companies are conducting interviews on video call platforms.

A person speaks during a virtual job interview.

When you’re deciding what to wear to a virtual interview, consider the same advice as above. Ensure your appearance is neat and tidy and that your clothes are lint and wrinkle free. While in the virtual interview, try to present yourself well by sitting up straight at a reasonable distance from the camera and in the center of the frame.

Appropriate interview outfits for men and women

Now that you understand the ways a work environment influences how you might dress for an interview, here are more ideas on specific clothing to wear.

In addition to the suggestions below, consider avoiding heavy perfume and choosing accessories and jewelry thoughtfully. The focus of the interview should be on your skills and competencies—not a distracting necklace or scent.

Interview attire for men

The standard for men’s attire for a professional interview used to be a suit. But in today’s workplaces, men often dress down from a full suit—although places like law firms might be exceptions. It’s a safe bet to wear nice slacks, a button-up shirt and a tie. You can tuck in your shirt and match your shoes to your belt to keep your appearance tidy.

A person in business professional attire meets with an interviewer.

Interview attire for women

The days of women being required to wear a skirt or dress in the workplace are mostly gone. Appropriate interview attire for a woman may be slacks and a blouse or nice sweater. If it’s the right season, a dress may be acceptable too.

A person in business casual clothing is interviewed.

Interview attire checklist

Whatever level of business attire you decide to wear, you can typically cover your bases with the following suggestions:

  • Lint-, stain- and wrinkle-free clothing
  • Dress pants with matching jacket, if appropriate
  • Button-up shirt or blouse
  • Subtle jewelry or accessories
  • Industry-appropriate footwear

What to wear to an interview in a nutshell

Wearing the right outfit for your interview might play a role in landing the job. If you start by understanding a company’s culture and dress code on an average workday, you can better choose what to wear to the interview.

Once you’re feeling confident in your attire, it might be time to get ready for other important aspects of your interview. Check out how to write a resume and tips for negotiating salary.

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