What should you wear to an interview?
That answer is far more complicated than it seems. You need to consider what colors to wear, how to accessorize, which shoes are appropriate, and more. Then, there are also the factors of what type of industry you’re hoping to work in.
Many hiring managers base whether or not you fit the bill for a job at their company based on your looks and what you’re wearing.
Are you edgy enough? Classy enough? Do you emit creativity through your choice of clothing? Sometimes, professional business attire doesn’t cut it.
For that reason, we have decided to help you make the right decision no matter what role you are applying for.
Here’s a quick overview of the fundamental topics we will cover:
- The importance of colors
- Understanding various job types
- Attention to detail
And in the second part of this guide, we will cover more specific topics in a TLDR form for our busy readers:
- What to wear for a job interview as a female,
- What to wear for a job interview as a male,
- What to wear for a job interview teenager edition
- What to wear for a skype/online job interview
If you are curious to learn more about the way your looks might influence a recruiter’s decisions, make sure to read our post on hiring biases.
Color is a bigger part of the overall ‘what to wear to an interview’ than the actual outfit is. Those that aren’t sure why color could make or break an outfit and how well you’re perceived in the meeting should think again.
Did you know that certain colors convey different messages to the hiring manager? Just when you thought whether or not you should wear a blazer was your biggest concern, this piece of information comes along.
Don’t worry! We are here to help you choose your colors wisely. We’ll give you the ins and outs of which colors to wear and avoid, as well as what messages are conveyed when wearing specific shades.
If you’re looking to impress a hiring manager with one specific color, go with blue. Darker shades of blue exude power, calmness, truth, and confidence all at the same time. You’ll make them feel confident in their decision to hire you. They’ll also assume you’re a stable candidate that they can trust.
Remember, blue in the world of fashion doesn’t mean down in the dumps. It screams, “I’m the best, most trustworthy candidate!”
One of the most popular colors to wear to an interview, this hue is excellent because it isn’t distracting. You won’t have to worry about whether or not the interviewer’s attention will be diverted by what you’re wearing. The shade conveys a message of sophistication, so choosing it is a great idea.
Although commanding and authoritative, black also tends to make people think about drama. Instead of using it as a primary outfit color, use it sparingly in accents such as shoes, ties, or scarves.
Another color that conveys a message of power, red, is considered one of intensity, passion, and aggression. Often a shade that’s extreme, red should also be left to accents, as it could convey the wrong message entirely.
A color that sends a message of goodness, precision, and cleanliness, white is an excellent option for a shirt or blouse. Wear one under a navy blue or gray suit, and you’ll be dressed to impress!
Now that we have gone over the basics of colors let’s understand the unspoken dress codes for various job types.
You will need to understand that there are various job types, and each of them has a “dress code” that you should be aware of.
It’s a sad thing, but it’s true: people, i.e., recruiters will judge you based on your looks 90% of the time.
The most common archetypes of job types are:
- Creator – Writer, Graphic Designer, Film, Art Director, Editor, Photographer
- Professional – Real Estate, Public Relations, Advertising, Account Exec, Law Firm Sales, Marketing
- Finance – Consulting, Banking, Accounting, Insurance
- Tech – IT, Product Manager, Engineer, Coder, Web Designer
Don’t take this classification as something that is set in stone. We have grouped them in this way for an easier explanation.
Let’s dive deeper into each one of them!
If you’re applying for a position in the creative industry, your attire should mimic that in a professional yet edgy way. Instead of wearing a boring suit, consider spicing it up a little.
Consider wearing a basic blazer in a neutral color, dark denim pants, and a lighter blue or white shirt or blouse.
Accessories should be kept at a minimum. Creative people must be comfortable and free-spirited, which should somewhat show within your outfit. You don’t want to look totally wild and free.
Keep things polished and tailored.
Professionals get a bad rep when it comes to attire. People tend to think they’re boring and dull. That doesn’t always have to be the case.
Those looking for the perfect interview outfit in the professional world need to keep things conservative yet sleek. Stick with blazers and well-cut trousers or skirts. Shoes should be dressy with little to no heel.
Gray, dark blues, and creams are a great color choice for suits and shirts or blouses. Refrain from wearing perfume or cologne and heavy makeup.
Looking well-groomed is the key here.
Much like client-based professionals, those working in finance need to show up to an interview looking clean-cut and well-groomed.
The only difference?
Black is an OK color for a suit. It is a flamboyant color for most industries, but for this one, it works well.
This industry is full of well-educated younger individuals with a distinct sense of style.
You’ll want to fit in with that yet bring a professional edge to the mix, as well. Dark denim, chambray shirts, or blouses tucked in with dressy belts are key here. You might want to throw on a neutral blazer, as well.
Leave the three-piece suit at home, but do opt for a polished look that shows that you are a stylish professional.
With styles of the 90s circulating back through the fashion world, prints are in. However, that doesn’t mean they should be worn to an interview. In fact, no matter how fashionable prints are, color blocking is always a better choice than prints.
Even the most minimal patterns can appear busy and loud. It’s best to steer clear of them and go for solid shades that show confidence and style.
Additional good reads:
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- Campus Recruiting – How to Recruit Gen Z Effectively
Jewelry, shoes, ties, and scarves are all great ways to ensure your personality shines through your outfit. While it’s great to be yourself, over-accessorizing for an interview might give the hiring manager the wrong idea.
You want to play things safe during this time. Of course, you can wear jewelry, but consider staying away from necklaces. Also, if you wear a contrasting tie or scarf, make sure it’s a solid color. If you have piercings, we recommend you take them out.
Shoe heel height is something to be careful of, as well. Little to no heel at all is best. Even for men, wearing any type of heel might give the interviewer the wrong impression. Also, make sure your shoes are clean and polished perfectly. Having no scuffs or worn spots is recommended.
Making a great first impression means paying attention to even the smallest details within your attire. Clothing should be clean and pressed. It should also fit well without looking too tight or loose. This will also help you to feel comfortable.
One can always tell when you’re uncomfortable with what you’re wearing. Make sure to leave ill-fitting clothes at home.
Hygiene and grooming are also part of the attention to detail factor. Even though it has nothing to do with actual clothing, it’s important to make sure your hair is freshly cut, styled, and clean. Having clean fingernails and wearing deodorant is key, as well.
Those that have long hair, men or women, should pull it back in a neat ponytail, or at least away from the face. Men with facial hair should trim and comb it well before time to meet.
Females face many hiring biases when applying for job positions and going through the interview process.
Sometimes being beautiful can come in handy, but sometimes you will be deemed as only pretty and nothing else. We know that biased hiring should be canceled in 2022. but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
As a woman, you should keep it classy and simple. Use colors that complement your skin tone but nothing too extravagant. Check how other female employees are coming to work, and you will be off to a good start. We are stressing this out because, for some job positions and industries, they prefer edgier looks.
Make sure your hair is groomed and in place. If you want to apply makeup, keep it subtle. As previously noted, keep the heels short and remove any piercings.
Men don’t have it easy either, but with classy, streetwear looks, you can’t miss much.
Groom your hair and beard well, and keep the clothes neat. Depending on your job type and the industry, various dressing styles can be considered as (in)appropriate. Hence do your homework and check the company culture and how other employees dress.
Ah, our favorite.
We know that you are young, and probably applying for the first time for your summer job, or a small part-time role. You don’t need to dress in suits and ties, but keep it neat and simple.
It is important that your dressing style conveys that you are reliable, trustworthy, and eager to learn and work hard.
Of course, different things matter at different job types, and applying for a part-time bartender and a marketing intern is not the same. Hence, do the research, check how the other employees come in for the work, and play among those lines.
They won’t see your whole body, yes, but that doesn’t mean you should dress up just from the bottoms up.
Being dressed well has psychological effects on you too. If you believe you have dressed appropriately, you will feel more confident and comfortable, which increases the chances of you nailing that interview.
So put on the pants too!
We won’t ask you to get up and do a 360-degree spin around, but why would you risk it?
For online job interviews, your surroundings are very important. Make sure that your home office is neat and clean. Remove anything unnecessary from the background.
Don’t use CGI backgrounds offered by various online meeting platforms. Don’t blur the background either. This will only prompt the recruiter to wonder what are you trying to hide.
Having a clean wall behind you would be the best option.
If you have kids around the house or live with other people, ask them to keep it quiet and distraction-free for that short period of time you will spend attending the interview.
Did we mention cafes? Absolutely never attend a job interview from a coffee shop or some public space. You are applying for a job, not a small one-time freelance gig (but don’t do this even if you are only applying for a small one-time freelance gig).
Those are all small things that send massive messages to the recruiters, and that can have either amazing or disastrous consequences.
If you are going to attend an online job interview, make sure to check our post on 8 Must-Follow Business Etiquette Rules For Phone And Video Interviews.
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