What to wear to a job interview

man in chair in suit

First impressions count in a job interview.
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You’ve landed a job interview. Congratulations! It’s difficult to get your foot in the door these days, so you’ll need to make a good first impression – and that means dressing well.

The right outfit will give you confidence and give you a head start on the other bozos in the waiting room. Here’s our easy guide to nailing that interview attire. Securing the job, however, is up to you!

Top Tips for dressing for a job interview

  1. If in doubt, dress up
    The company you’re interviewing for may have a laid-back dress code, but you’re not working there yet. Always err on the side of caution and remember, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  2. Make sure your clothes fit
    Fit is just as important as style. This should go without saying, but if your trousers are too long (or too short), or your jacket is too big (or too tight), you’ll look scruffy. Make sure your outfit fits perfectly.
  3. Ask what the dress code is
    It’s good practice to ask the person who set up your interview what the dress code is. Knowing what to wear takes some of the stress away, which lets you focus on your preparations and increases your chances of landing the job.

Should you always wear a suit to an interview?

Trousers and shirt

If you’re not wearing a suit try to keep it smart.
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Unless you have a very good reason not to, we’d always recommend you wear a good-fitting suit for interview. If you’re not sure how to buy  a suit that fits, see our guide to getting a great fitting suit for a helping hand.

Wearing a suit conveys security and status. It shows you’ve made an effort to look your best which, in turn, shows you really want the job.

There are a couple of easy rules to follow if you’re going to look great in a suit:

  1. always leave your bottom button undone
  2. unbutton your whole jacket when you sit down so it doesn’t crumple up like a concertina.

If you’re determined not to wear a suit, then at the very least team a shirt and tie with a pair of smart men’s trousers in a dark colour if you want to be taken seriously.

Keep it simple

Normally we’d advocate the clever use of accessories to demonstrate your unique style and personality – think Jon Snow’s splendid socks on Channel 4 News. But when it comes to an interview, you should always keep your accessories simple. You are walking into the unknown after all.

Eccentricities like a pocket square, a selection of bracelets or a rowdy tie can irritate weary interviewers, so leave them at home. Once you’ve got the job you can wear them with impunity.

Compliment the simple elegance of your suit with a pair of smart Oxford shoes. Loafers or Chelsea boots can work with a suit, but such a bold style statement could signal over-confidence and vanity to your interviewer.

What colours are appropriate to wear to an interview?

man in blue suit red tie

Navy is the suit colour of choice for career success.
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Bright red trousers might look great on the weekend but they are an absolute no-no for a job interview. Red exudes power and can send the wrong kind of signals to your future employers.

Blue is the best colour to wear. It strikes the right balance between confidence and approachability. As Lynda Goldman states in an AOL Jobs article on the meaning of colours at work:

“Have you noticed how many companies use blue in their logo and corporate colours?” Think the ultimate friendly and connected company, Facebook. Think IBM. Look at your computer screen right now and notice how many advertisers, programs, websites and platforms use blue as their main colour.

When wearing blue or navy, your shoes should ideally be brown or tan. Neither shade of shoe is particularly formal – but at least it shows you know how to dress.

The little things…

interview men with folder

Attention to detail makes all the difference.
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If you are required to bring in a CV, then do so in a smart portfolio or new folder. Don’t fold it up and put it in your breast pocket. This is the sort of attention to detail that will really help you make a good impression.

Finally, make sure you smell right. This doesn’t just mean showering and applying anti-perspirant, it also means going easy on the aftershave. Clean, simple and subtle is best, which indeed should be the mantra for your whole outfit.

The final word

Of course, some interviews will be less formal than others. But dressing well always gives confidence, which can only be of help in the interview room.

Now you know what to wear, we’ll leave smashing the interview to you.

Posted in What to wear guides.