Dressing for job interviews can be stressful. Should you always wear a suit? Are jeans ever OK? Do you have to wear a tie every time?
You want to make the best impression you can from the moment you walk into the interview. Depending on the job type and level you are interviewing for, you’ll likely need to dress business casual or business formal. Generally speaking, you don’t want your clothes to be distracting: too tight, too loose, too old, or offensive.
Read below for tips on how to dress for all types of interviews, from internships to executive-level positions.
What qualifies as appropriate interview attire?
Black, navy, gray, or khaki suits, dress pants, blazer, and jackets are always acceptable interview outfits. White shirts are the norm, but you could get away with shades of blue or striped dress shirts. Ties shouldn’t be too loud or outrageous for an interview, either. But, what qualifies as business formal or casual?
If you are interviewing in a business-casual setting, you can get away with a lot more than business formal. A sweater over a button-down shirt with slacks, a button-down with slacks and open jacket, or a polo shirt with slacks all classify as business casual.
Business formal is typically only a three-piece suit with a tie. You should stick to a black or navy suit with a solid-colored tie.
Jeans, t-shirts, graphic or offensive language/prints, torn clothing, and smelly cologne are all huge interview outfit no-nos. Accessories should be very minimal — watches are an example of something acceptable. Shoes should look clean, shiny, and dressy.
For creatives or artists, you can have a bit more color or flare, but don’t go too far. You could include a more creative tie or brighter shirt, but the other rules apply.
What job interview outfit should you wear in every situation
Business casual is totally acceptable for internships. While a lot of internships are less than business casual, you want to show the company and hiring managers you are professional and serious about your impending career. Dressing in business casual attire can show them you are ready to join the workforce and take the opportunity seriously.
Startup positions should be treated like internships; stick with business casual. The whole company is just starting out, so dressing formally could make you feel out of place and make everyone uncomfortable. A button-up and a pair of slacks or any other iteration of business casual will show them you are excited about the opportunity and can be professional without standing out in a bad way.
When applying to an entry-level position, research the company and see if business formal or casual is the best way to go. If you can’t find the information you need, business casual is fine. You want to show you are ready to jumpstart your career but don’t want to seem like you are trying too hard.
Mid-to-Senior level positions
When interviewing for mid-to-senior level positions, you should research the culture of the company to determine the appropriate attire. If the interview is with a company you already work for or you can’t find the cultural information, business formal is best. More than likely you are leveling up in your career, and you want to leave the best impression on the hiring manager; demonstrate that you are ready for the new responsibility.
Management and executive positions
Business formal is always how you should dress for management and executive-level interviews. You’ll be expected to dress as a manager would during your work hours, so you want to make the strongest impression you can. How you dress can convey a lot about your leadership and management mindset and can show hiring managers you are prepared for the added responsibility of the new job title.
Skype or video interviews
You should dress according to the position you are interviewing for during a Skype or video interview. Even dressing business casual for a phone interview will help put you in the right mindset and boost your confidence.
In conclusion, always research the company culture, ask an insider, or visit the business to get a feel for how to dress for an interview beforehand. If none of the options are available, dress according to the above guidelines. You want to go into an interview feeling confident and as comfortable as possible while showing hiring managers you are a good fit for the company and the position. What you wear can say a lot about who you are as an employee, how seriously you take your job, and how professional you are.
And, dressing to impress isn’t as hard or stressful as it can seem. Buying a few coordinating pieces of clothing can have you prepared for many interviews to come. With these tips, you will dress appropriately and leave more time for what really matters — winning them over with your personality and outstanding achievements!