What to Wear to a Job Interview

Your interview outfit will depend on the type of job you’re going for. Different industries have specific expectations for candidates, so here are some examples of what to wear to a job interview.

Business formal

Fetch your best three-piece, blow off the dust, and don’t forget the iron, because you’re going to need it. For banking, legal, finance and high-profile sales jobs, nothing but a suit will do. This needs to be as professional as a professional can be. The more assertive, confident and polished, the better.

Most prefer a tailored suit, trousers or skirt. Pair this with a plain or light-coloured shirt or blouse. Avoid black as you’re not going to a funeral and scrap the novelty tie unless you plan on stopping by the bingo hall on the way home to lend a hand calling out the numbers. Go with pastel, navy or grey to appear uber approachable.

Your choice of footwear is just as important. A smart black shoe or heel so clean, you can literally see your face in them, is best. If you’re wearing heels, save yourself the embarrassment of falling over by choosing something no bigger than three inches and making sure you can walk comfortably in them.

Avoid too much jewellery. A watch and a couple of rings is fine, but think smart, not tacky. If you don’t own any smart jewellery, go bare.

Business casual

Defining a business casual outfit isn’t so straightforward, as everyone has their own take on what it means and the clothes that define it. But as the name suggests, it’s a mix of casual and formal clothing — the type of people who work in marketing, education, tech and administration wear.

Chinos, smart trousers or a knee-length skirt work well for a smart casual outfit. For the top half, think more casual. So a blouse or a button-down shirt with an open blazer or lightweight jacket. Or a v-neck with a shirt underneath. Feel free to add a bit of colour to your outfit too.

Complete the look with a flat, closed-toe shoe, boot or sneaker. Avoid trainers and open-toe shoes. And swap the briefcase for an over the shoulder bag or backpack.

Smart casual

If you’re in a creative role, whether it’s fashion, arts or theatre, this one’s for you. Injecting a little flair into your outfit seems fit for this industry — so you can feel free to express more of yourself through this first impression.

Think about the things you wear outside of work, and just tone it down a notch or two. A dark jean instead of a light jean. A full-length dress instead of a shorter one. A shoe or boot instead of a trainer. A plain tee instead of a graphic tee. You get the picture.

Oh, and don’t feel pressured to dress up if it’s not your normal style. You want to feel 100% comfortable, so keep things plain and simple if that’s usually how you roll.

Role specific

If you’re in construction, healthcare or traffic control, you might be used to wearing a uniform to work, accessorised with personal protective equipment like glasses, gloves and a not-so-Melbourne-Cup-ready piece of headwear.

There are times when it will be appropriate to wear this uniform to interview, but it will depend. Consider the nature of the role you are applying for, the location of the interview, and the time of day – regardless of whether the uniform is appropriate, it won’t be a good look if it’s the end of a busy shift and you’re covered in dirt.

When in doubt about whether your industry get-up will make for a good interview outfit, follow our tips below to find the answer or opt for a business casual look.

What to do if you’re unsure of the dress code

Sometimes it’s easy to find out what you should wear to your interview. Other times it’s not as clear-cut. But you need to get it right if you want to feel comfortable and give yourself the best chance of getting the job.

If you’re struggling to know what you should wear, try the following:

Visit the company’s website and social media: If they post pictures of their employees you can get an idea of its workplace dress code. Always go one step up from this though, as interviews can bring a touch more formality than what becomes the norm once you’re ‘in’.
Read the job ad: The language they use should give you a good idea of the workplace culture. If it’s corporate, go business formal. If it’s more laid back, business casual.
Ask: There’s nothing wrong with asking for interview dress tips from whoever you’ve been talking to. In fact, we recommend it. Take the guesswork out by asking beforehand what style of dress would be most appropriate.

If all else fails, always play it safe and dress smart. It’s much better to be overdressed than underdressed, both for your confidence and the impression it’ll leave.

Final thoughts

Always prep what you’re going to wear a day or three in advance to avoid a mad last dash around your house or finding an unsightly coffee stain, which can be a real confidence killer.

Resist the pressure to buy anything new (unless you really need to) and have a full dress rehearsal with a friend or family member beforehand.

And above all else, make sure you feel confident and comfortable in what you wear.

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