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How to Dress for a Job Interview

Posted on 12/03/2020

You know that it’s important to make a good first impression at a job interview and that your choice of interview attire is a big part of that. But dressing for job interviews is a lot more complicated than it used to be.

For example, let’s say you’re going to an interview at a company where no one ever wears a suit – not even the CEO. Should you still dress formally for the occasion, or will you look out of place? And if you do decide to go for a more casual look, how can you make sure that you still appear professional and respectful?

When in Doubt, Dress Up a Little

Dress codes vary. For example, a tech start-up in Silicon Valley might frown on someone who dresses too formally, while a Fortune 50 company on Madison Avenue might frown on someone who dresses too casually. It’s important to get a sense of the corporate culture before you head into the interview, to make sure that your attire is appropriate.

Different industries have different expectations of how candidates and employees should dress. The appropriate dress code can vary greatly depending on the company, industry, and location.

However, regardless of what everyone else at the company is wearing, it’s essential to take particular care with your appearance during a job interview. The candidate dressed in a suit and tie, or dress and heels, will usually make a much better impression than the candidate dressed in jeans and sneakers.

Learn more about what to wear for a corporate position and what to wear for a more laid-back casual position. In both cases, being well-groomed with clean, untattered clothes is always required. 

How to Dress for a Corporate Interview

If you’re going on a job interview at a company in a traditional industry, such as finance, banking, or insurance, you should opt for more formal corporate attire. In general, this means a suit and tie for men and a pantsuit or skirt and blouse for women.

How to Dress for a More Casual Interview

When the workplace or the job is less formal, the dress code may be more relaxed. If you're not sure what to wear, it's fine to check with the person scheduling the interview. However, it's still important not to dress sloppily. Learn more about some casual options:

  • Business Casual: You can leave the suit at home, but don’t get out those jeans just yet. Business casual means no jeans, no sneakers, and no apparel that would be more appropriate for the gym or the club.

  • Startup Casual: Jeans may be OK for an interview at a startup, but make sure they’re clean and free from holes or ragged seams. You’re going for stylish, not sloppy – and it’s still a good idea to dress up a bit more than the folks who are already working there.

  • What to Wear When There's No Dress Code: Not sure what to wear? When there’s no real dress code, keep it professional and err toward business casual.

Tips for Making the Best Interview Impression

Take some time to prepare your interview outfit to be sure you're ready to make the best impression.

Well in advance of your interview, make sure you have appropriate interview attire, and everything fits correctly.

Get your clothes ready the night before, so you don't have to spend time getting them ready the day of the interview.

If your clothes are dry clean only, take them to the cleaners right after an interview, so you're prepared for the next interview.

Be sure to polish your shoes the night before.

What to Bring to the Interview

In addition to getting your interview attire ready the night before, also gather what you need to bring with you:

  • Interview location/directions

  • Contact name and number for the person you're meeting with

  • Identification

  • Notepad and pen

  • Extra copies of your resume

  • List of three references

  • Work samples (depending on the job)

  • Laptop or tablet to showcase your work (depending on the job)

  • Breath mints with you to use before entering the building

You can bring your smartphone but make sure it's on mute or vibrate during your interview. It avoids the risk of getting a distracting loud text alert or phone call mid-interview.

What Not to Bring to the Interview

There are some things you shouldn't bring to a job interview:

  • Gum

  • Coffee or soda

  • If you have lots of piercings, consider leave some of your jewelry at home (earrings only is a good rule)

  • If possible, cover tattoos

Key Takeaways


Traditional industries demand more corporate attire, while startups may find suits stuffy.


No matter what you wear, make sure it looks new or well-tended. Skip gym clothes or club gear.


Keep your hair neat and any accessories or makeup understated.


The interviewer should remember your skills and experience, not your outfit.

Smart Job Match

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