How to Dress for an Interview

When you go for a job interview, first impressions are very important. Making the wrong first impression can seriously affect your chances of getting the job, and you will have to work so much harder if you want to get things back on a level playing field. The way that you dress for your interview can play an important part in the impression that you make to your potential employer. It is therefore essential that you consider what you wear before you go to an interview.

Professional Dress

You should wear professional attire unless you have been specifically instructed to wear something else. Even if the company has a casual dress code for employees, you should still aim to look smart on the day of your interview. Likewise, do not dress for the job that you are applying for. Those who are applying for manual work should still wear a suit or other professional attire, regardless of whether you will end up wearing a boiler suit every day in the role. Skirts should be knee length or longer, although floor length skirts are best avoided. Men should wear a tie to complete their professional look.

Subtle Choices

Both men and women should make subtle choices in their attire, even if this is contradictory to your personality. Although most employers will be happy for you to express different faucets of your personality whilst you are in the role, they need to know that you can be professional when it really matters.

The way that you dress at your interview can show that you are willing to compromise when necessary. Dark colours are best for suits, skirts and trousers. Match these with a light coloured or subtly pinstriped shirt. Avoid loud colours or flashy (novelty) ties. Although they will get you noticed, they could leave the wrong impression.

You may wear jewellery for your interview although you should continue to make subtle choices. If you normally wear a lot of large rings, you should remove the majority of them for the interview. If they are not loud enough to be spotted immediately, then your interviewer will almost certainly take notice of them when they are shaking your hand at the beginning or end of your interview.


You need to make sure that you are dressed appropriately from the bottom to the top. Avoid casual shoes or trainers, as these can give the impression that you are not taking the interview seriously. You can choose high heels, but keep them to a sensible height. If you do choose to wear high heels to an interview, make sure that you are able to walk in them comfortably. Falling or stumbling because of your shoes can make a big impression for the wrong reason.

Black or brown shoes are best, although other subtle choices can work if they complement the rest of your outfit.


Many people feel more confident when they are wearing make-up, but you must be careful not to overdo it. If you do decide to wear make up for your interview, go for a subtle "naked" look and avoid heavy eyeliner or strong eyeshadow colours. You should also make subtle choices with your fingernails. Pastel shades and neutral colours are recommended if you do decide to paint your nails. Alternatively, you may wish to have a French manicure.

Unless you are interviewing for a role with a beautician, you should avoid long nails. Make employers do not consider long fake nails to be appropriate for the workplace.


Your hair should be neat, tidy and kept out of your face. Beards are now becoming more acceptable, although they must be well-kept rather than scruffy or straggly.

Avoid loud hair accessories, such as gaudy hair clips. Do not use strongly scented products to style your hair and do not play with your hair during your interview, as this can be very distracting.


Try on your outfit before your interview date, so you know that it fits properly. This will give you time to plan a new outfit if there are any problems with the one that you already have. Failing to do this can leave you panicked or flustered right before the interview. You should also check the whole outfit for marks, stains and holes. Doing an interview in a dirty or scruffy outfit can give the impression that you are careless, messy and would not take pride in your work.

Wear a very subtly scented deodorant or perfume, rather than splashing it on. Smells are very subjective and if your interviewer hates your favourite scent then they may develop an unconscious negative association with you. Likewise, some people are actually allergic to perfumes, so your strong scent could lead to your interviewer sneezing, wheezing and itching throughout your session.