You perfected your resume, applied for the position and now you’ve scored yourself a job interview. First of all, congratulations! Now all you have to do is wow the recruiter with your clever, direct responses to her questions, thoughtful insights on the company and fabulous interview outfit. Easier said than done, we know, but dressing for the occasion doesn’t have to be a big deal so long as you know the rules of what to wear to an interview. Read on for tips on how to dress to impress, plus shop some of our favorite foolproof interview staples.
General Rules to Follow:
1. If you can’t wear a regular bra with it, it’s not appropriate.
Yes, even if you want to work in a creative field where dress codes are often much more relaxed, now is not the time to sport an adorable off-the-shoulder top, open-back dress or one-shoulder blouse. This includes those who work in fashion. It doesn’t matter if the biggest trend in the world right now is strapless silhouettes—if it requires special undergarments it’s definitely a no-go.
2. When in doubt, lean toward a more conservative look.
You don’t have to wear a suit for an interview at your local Starbucks or for a position as a physical therapist, but that doesn’t mean you should show up in ripped jeans and an oversize tee. It’s better to be overdressed than under, especially if you’re hoping to impress the people you’re talking to, so pick things with a bit more polish, like a neat cardigan over slacks or a button-down shirt tucked into black, non-distressed jeans.
3. Sorry, but no cleavage.
We wish very much that we lived in a world in which women’s bodies weren’t considered “distracting” or “unprofessional.” And although we’ve begun to move in the right direction, there is still a very high chance your interviewer won’t find your low-cut top or dress appropriate. Err on the side of caution and wear something with more coverage, at least enough to not show cleavage, then let the girls go wild when you meet up with friends to celebrate getting the job.
4. Nothing too tight.
WThis is honestly more for your comfort than anything. If you feel constricted physically, you’re less likely to be able to think on your feet and go with the flow during the interview. Feeling comfortable is key to making a good impression, so you might as well start with your clothes (and shoes!).
5. No sweatpants, even on Zoom.
Remember early in the pandemic when it seemed like there was a new Zoom wardrobe malfunction horror story coming out every single week? Don’t be this week’s horror story. Dress from head to toe just in case you’re mistaken about what’s visible in your video. Sometimes unexpected things happen and you’ll need to stand up to get a tissue or retrieve your resume or a book you want to discuss and now you’re forced to address the fact that you’re still wearing your pajama bottoms. As a bonus, you’re also more likely to feel like you’re on you’re A game if you’re fully dressed for the occasion.
6. Wear the entire outfit at least once before the big day.
Runners are big fans of the mantra “nothing new on race day,” but it works equally well for job interviews. Give your outfit a dress rehearsal (pun very much intended) so you know how it feels to move around in it. You might discover you don’t actually feel all that comfortable in it after all, but now you still have plenty of time to make changes rather than simply pushing through.
Hospitality - Restaurants, Retail
If you’ve applied for a job at your favorite pizzeria, clothing store or even a boutique hotel you admire, the best thing to do is simply to copy the outfits of those who already work there, adding just a bit more refinement. You want to look tidy and professional. If the coffee baristas all wear jeans, flannel shirts and ankle boots to work, choose jeans in a clean wash with no distressing, a flannel shirt that’s not too oversized nor too tight and boots that are easy to walk in with no scuffs or tattered laces. You should look like a spiffed up version of the company’s best-dressed employee. Even if there is a uniform involved, like at a fast food restaurant or airline, showing up in something similar can help the interviewer to literally picture you in the role, so do some research and don’t be afraid to invest in something new if you want to look the part.
Creative Fields - Fashion, Art, Publishing
If you want a job that requires creativity then it’s a good idea to show off your personality a bit in the interview, and this can include wearing something that’s a bit more fun than simple business casual. A blouse in a more vibrant print or pleated skirt with contrasting belt can give the interviewer more of a sense of who you are. That said, it’s important not to go overboard. Consider these offices off-shoots of the Business Casual category above and keep that advice in mind when you plan your look. The best advice we can give is when in doubt to always err on the side of caution with pieces that are simpler and more polished.
The vast majority of offices nowadays fit under the business casual umbrella. Think of this as one step above jeans and one step below formal office attire. Button-up blouses, blazers, trousers, pencil and pleated midi skirts, sweater sets—all are appropriate for this type of work environment. You can even have a bit more fun with patterns (think more plaid, stripes and dainty florals than tropical fronds or loud graphics) and colors (emerald green is fine, neon green is not). For your interview, it’s best to skew toward the more formal end of the business casual spectrum. Try a blazer over neat trousers and a crew-neck blouse or knee-length A-line dress, and finish with practical footwear like ballet flats, loafers or low block heels.
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