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  • Deciding what to wear to an interview depends on the job, company, and location.
  • Whether you’re interviewing virtually or in person, the goal is to dress in a way that reflects your personality but is still appropriate and professional.
  • Clarify what’s expected, then dress accordingly to make the best first impression.

Landing an interview for a new job or internship is the first step to getting the position. The next task is preparing for the meeting—and what you wear could play an important role. Princeton University research suggests that interviewers tend to make snap judgements about a person’s competency based on their clothing. And that doesn’t always mean fancy—or even especially business-like.

Every company is different, but dressing the part can communicate that you understand the expectations of the role. You want your clothes to reflect that you’re a professional and that you understand the culture, not distract the interviewer from your qualifications. Here are some important things to consider when deciding what to wear to an interview.

Let the industry and company be your guide

What to wear to an interview depends largely on the industry, company, and location. For example, what you’d wear to a tech startup in Silicon Valley might be different from how you’d dress for a role at a corporate bank in the Midwest or laid-back marketing agency on the East Coast. If you aren’t sure what to wear, don’t be afraid to email your point person at the company. It can be as simple as asking them what the dress code is like.

Taking their lead—but also dress like yourself. It’s possible to show your personality while maintaining a sense of professionalism.

What should I wear to an interview?

Whether you’re applying for an internship, part-time job, or post-college position, understanding the dress code can help you ace the interview—and feel comfortable and confident while doing it. The idea is to express yourself through your clothing while maintaining a sense of professionalism.

Business professional

This look is synonymous with formal office wear and typically includes clothes, shoes, and accessories that are neat and tidy. That usually means no rips, frays, tears, or embellishments. You’ll probably be expected to avoid clothing that’s flashy or extreme in style or color. Here are some examples of what to wear to an interview that requires business professional attire:

  • Business suits
  • Blazers and suit jackets paired with dress pants, skirts, or dresses
  • Button-down dress shirts, professional tops, or blouses
  • Dress shoes
Two people wearing business professional clothing
Two poeople wearing business casual clothing

Business casual

Business casual is somewhere between business professional and casual. The overall look is clean and polished, but a suit and tie may be over doing it. Below are examples of what to wear to an interview that calls for business casual clothing:

  • Dress pants, skirts, or dresses
  • Dark denim that isn’t ripped or distressed
  • Button-down shirts
  • Collared shirts, professional tops, or blouses
  • Sweaters
  • Blazers, which could elevate a plain T-shirt
  • Nice shoes, including dressier boots, sneakers, or sandals

Casual attire

If you’re interviewing with a company that embraces a casual dress code, you’ll want to clarify what that means. Flip-flops, yoga pants, and sweatpants probably aren’t an option. Every company is different, but casual attire implies a comfortable, relaxed look that’s still appropriate for the office. That may include:

  • Jeans that aren’t ripped or distressed
  • Casual sneakers
  • Nice sweatshirts
  • Athleisure and outerwear
  • Casual dresses
Two people wearing casual clothing

What to wear for a virtual interview

Some interviews may be conducted online, especially for remote jobs. You’ll still want to keep things professional, even if it’s a video meeting.

  • Select clothing that will help you put your best foot forward. That goes beyond adhering to the in-office dress code. You also want to dress in a way that makes you feel good and ready to take on the role. That’s no small thing as dressing the part might change the way we think and behave. One study found a link between donning a doctor’s lab coat and increased attention to the task at hand. It stands to reason that wearing the right clothing can positively affect your performance and confidence.
  • Avoid bright windows that might make it difficult to see you.
  • Be mindful of what else will be visible on camera. Opt for a clean background, such as a bookshelf or wall that doesn’t have distracting artwork. When in doubt, use a neutral virtual background.
  • Test your audio and camera beforehand to avoid unwanted tech glitches.


Examples of what not to wear to an interview

What not to wear to an interview

It goes without saying that first impressions are everything. When deciding what to wear to an interview, steer clear of the following. They could take away from your qualifications.

  • Sloppy, wrinkled clothes
  • Inappropriate shoes like casual slides or flip-flops
  • Distractive accessories and jewelry
  • Heavy fragrances

Other ways to prepare for an interview

Your outfit aside, there are other ways to get ready for an interview. The action items below can help you go into the meeting feeling prepared and confident:

  • Anticipate interview questions and practice your responses.
  • Think about relevant experiences you can highlight during the interview.
  • Do mock interviews with friends or family.
  • Prepare any questions you have about the role or company.
  • Research the role’s average compensation.

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