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What to Wear to Your Interview: How to Always Dress Your Best

Zakary Kulas Interviewing

We’ve all heard of dressing for success, some even say “dress for the job you want.” But what exactly should you wear to that upcoming interview?

Well, it depends on where you’re interviewing. The aforementioned advice may sound viable, in theory, but it doesn’t always apply. Plus, there are psychological factors to consider as well.

The key is to dress appropriately – and to best convey who you are and why you’ll fit in. More than anything, it’s about making a good first impression. That means not being under or overdressed for starters. It also means wearing something that is both comfortably characteristic of you and professional at the same time.

Here’s a quick guide to help you determine what to wear based on the work environment of the job.

The Professional Workplace
If you’re applying to work in an office with a professional workplace, you’ll want to wear appropriate business attire.

For men, this means wearing a suit and tie. In other words, get ready to iron those dress slacks and get out your long-sleeved button-down. While comedic ties may be amusing, we typically recommend wearing a more conservative one. Oh, and don’t forget your suit jacket, too.

Women can be a bit more flexible, though a skirt or dress pants with a nice blouse is preferable. Alternatively, a well-tailored skirt suit or a sheath dress is also acceptable. The neckline should be modest, as should the hem, and heels are the ideal shoes if you can swing it.

The Informal Work Environment
Just because a company has a more laid-back work environment doesn’t mean you can just show up in jeans. For more informal environments, a business casual approach is often the best.

See if you can find out about the company’s dress code ahead of your interview. Your recruiter or the company’s administrative coordinator should be able to tell you what’s generally accepted.

You likely won’t need a suit or heels, but you should still have a polished, clean, and professional appearance.

Super Casual Companies
Not all companies require you to dress up for work, and sometimes an interview may call for more casual attire. If you’re interviewing with, say, a trendy new tech startup, formal business apparel may be a bit over the top.

When interviewing in a casual environment – e.g. at a company without a dress code – you can dress down a bit. However, you still want to appear smart and respectable. Consider a pair of khakis or some dark-wash jeans with a fashionable blouse or a polo shirt.

If you have doubts or want to really look your best, business casual is almost always still appropriate. Even if everyone else is wearing jeans and hoodies, you’re not going to be terribly overdressed in typical business casual attire.