How to Dress for Job Interview Success

It’s the night before the big interview and the last thing you want to think about is outfit coordination for the big day. I hear you. Before you play closet Russian roulette and pull out an outdated vintage suit, (unless that’s your style!) here are a few tips to simplify the guesswork out of perfecting the right outfit for job interview success.

First, ask yourself three “Goldilocks”-type questions:

1. Is this [shirt/suit/pants/dress/ shoes] too big? Don’t wear it.
2. Is this [shirt/suit/pants/dress/ shoes] too small? Don’t wear it.
3. Is the fit just right? Meaning nothing is overly baggy, stretched out, or cutting off blood circulation?

Good. We are one step closer to finding a successful job interview attire from your closet.

This may seem obvious but the comfort and fit of your clothes is important while interviewing because wearing a fitted outfit will not only look better but make you feel more at ease in the interview. If all you can think about is how tight your shoes feel or how long your pants are, you might seem distracted during the interview.

1. If you don’t already have one, consider investing in a neutral-colored suit, in black, grey or beige. Pin-stripes are acceptable as long as the lines are small and not distracting.
2. If you wear a patterned-suit, then wear a solid-colored shirt/blouse on the inside. The opposite holds true as well: if you have a solid-colored suit, you have the option to wear a pattern-colored shirt/blouse on the inside. The rule is, just don’t mix patterns with patterns. They can clash and look too distracting.

Dress Shirts
1.  Always have a few presentable dress shirts in the right size. Stick with a few solid colors, like blue or white for safety. If you like more adventurous colors, try a light color like light lavender, which is modern and universally flattering. As long as the color is not too flashy or distracting, it should be fine.
2. Take the extra 5 minutes to iron out any wrinkles. Shirts with crisp collars look neat, tidy, and professional compared to a shirt just pulled out of the dryer.
3. Flatly tuck in your dress shirt/blouse to your pants or skirt to avoid bunching up the shirt.

1. If you are wearing a suit jacket, make sure the pant color matches the suit exactly.
2. Iron out all the wrinkles.
3. For ladies, make sure the skirt hits around the knee for the perfect length.

Stick with neutral colors, like brown or black for a professional interview. For ladies, heels are acceptable but sticking with a flatter heel will provide for more comfort.

Remember, you can still customize your job interview outfit to personalize yourself but make sure to pick clothes that give you the best comfort and confidence. Don’t wear clothes that will distract you or the interviewer from the job interview process so you can focus on acing that interview.
Finally, make sure all your shoes laces are tied and all buttons are buttoned up.  Good luck with your interview!

21 thoughts on “How to Dress for Job Interview Success”

  1. The Goldilocks tip is a good reference and reminder! It amazes me what some people wear to an interview. You’d think it would be common sense, but people sometimes don’t put any thought into it.

  2. Very informative and well written. A lot of common sense ideas but sometimes the obvious isn’t so obvious! I haven’t been on an interview in over 20 years and hope not to need to go on one, but I will keep this info in mind for myself or friends should the need arise.

  3. It sounds strange to add this when everyone seems to be wearing athletic shoes most of the time, but please polish your shoes, ladies & gents. As you walk in and out of the interview room, the sight of worn out and scuffed leather shoes gives a bad impression.
    Also, throw out your gum and pop in a breath mint!

  4. All you tips are great. I have to add that being prepared ahead of time is 90% of the interview. Not just knowing all about the company but having your clothes ready way in advance of the interview. If you’ve been looking for a job for a while there’s no excuse for last minute horror shows-like no clean blouse that will match that great suit you plan to wear. Select 3 outfits, complete with accessories, and have them hanging in the closet, ready to wear. Don’t stress out trying to decide what to wear the day of the interview. Be prepared!

  5. Please don’t hate what I’m going to say, but I think a lot of young women today don’t dress properly for the office. Sometimes they look like they are ready for the gym, not ready to work. Thanks for your advice about dressing properly for an interview. I hope it will be taken to heart and followed once they actually get a job.

  6. I have an interview next week and these are great tips. Glad to have stumbled across this article!

  7. Your Dress for Success blog reminded me to check my closet and pull out some off-sized clothes for charity. There are groups in my area that donate clothes to women who need them for a job interview & for working in an office. They have been out of work for various reasons and are starting over, learning new job skills. If you have “new” used clothes that are suitable for office wear, please consider donating them.

  8. I agree totally. Be professional about your appearance. You come to work -to work, not to look like you’re on vacation (even though we may wish we were at the beach). Guys have been stuck in business suits for a while now, with just a colorful shirt or tie to distinguish us from the rest of herd. I don’t think that will change any time soon. So when Casual Friday rolls around, let’s not to show up in p.j.s!

  9. I like your advice about ironing out the wrinkles in a shirt. Not many people still iron even though shirts can get awfully wrinkled in the dryer. My daughter used to shake her head at me when I insisted on ironing most of our clothes. But she changed her tune when she enlisted in the Navy after graduating from college. Of course now that she’s an officer she sends out her laundry and dry cleaning, but during her basic training she was required to iron everything – even her sheets!

  10. Your tips are great but I wish there was a class in the senior year of high school that taught them. Sometimes I think teens aren’t given enough help to present themselves as ready to work. Dressing right is a big help for the job interview, as well as showing up on time. The mantra of Clean and Neat should be observed at all times-for an interview and after you’ve landed the job, too.

  11. If a person is going is make a slight mistake as to how casual or not one needs to be as far as what to wear on an interview, always err on the side of being too dressed up. Even though casual may be the way to go once you’re hired, showing respect at the time of the first impression is never the wrong thing to do. It shows character and maturity to think about what others may think.

  12. I’d rather be over-dressed than under-dressed for an interview. Excellent tips! Sounds obvious, yet so many people don’t think about this stuff!!

  13. Sorry, this is off the subject of interview clothes, but I’d like to know if anyone is pro school uniforms. I am because they instill a little bit of sanity to the chaotic atmosphere that can occur when kids are getting bullied over their non-designer outfits. I’m not saying the kids will get all A’s because they wear uniforms; I just think it’s one less distraction in the classroom. Maybe if they learn neatness in school they will be ready for that all important interview when they are older.

  14. Important to make a good first impression! These are excellent tips for anyone looking for a job. Dress to impress.

  15. Don’t forget to make sure you are comfortable in what you wear. There is no point wearing high heels if you can’t walk in them, or a pair of pants that is just a little tight at the waist. Interviews are stressful enough without having to worry about blisters on your feet and buttons popping off!

  16. I’d like to add to Ruth’s comment about dressing as if you’re on your way to the gym. Try to tone down your jewelry when you go on an interview. It’s the style now to wear about a dozen noisy bracelets and huge hoop earrings dripping with charms. Remember the scene in the movie “Working Girl”, when Sigourney Weaver tells Melanie Griffith “You may want to re-think your jewelry.” It’s good advice.

  17. I’m a volunteer at a men’s shelter and I can tell you that Antonia’s idea to donate clothes for women going to back to work after a run of bad luck makes perfect sense for men as well. These guys are used to being turned down when they go for a job. I think some new clothes would be just the thing to gibe them confidence at the next interview. Check your local men’s shelters, please, and see if they need used clothing. Thanks.

  18. My husband and I are both looking for work right now. We needed a classier look to improve our chances of finding better jobs than the ones we had, but not much in the budget. Lucky for us we have a consignment shop in town. For just a few dollars I found the perfect interview suit and my husband bought some very nice shirts and ties for the next few interviews.

  19. I would have thought that this would all be common sense, until I started giving the interviews. Ripped jeans, low-cut shirts, sweatpants, sheer tops – so many people look like they just rolled out of bed or came from the gym. That first impression is important and seems to be overlooked by too many people these days.

  20. Part of preparing for an interview is your choice of wardrobe. Wear something you are comfortable in that is still professional and appropriate for the workplace. Even if the office is a casual dress code, you still don’t want to look like you came straight from bed!

  21. why don’t people think of this automatically? dress up for an interview, make a good impression, look professional. and do this in the office too.

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