What to wear to a job interview

You’ve prepared your responses to potential interview questions, researched the company and thought about what you’re going to ask the interviewer… but do you know what you’re going to wear?

Your professional attire may not seem like a big deal in the scheme of things, but the right – or wrong – interview outfit can make a first impression long before you utter a single word. So, what do you need do to put your best foot (and shoe) forward?

Do some background work

While it’s important to maintain your own sense of style so you feel comfortable with what you’re wearing, job interview outfits should also be largely determined by the culture of the company.

A quick Google of the company and their social media accounts will help give you an idea of the office environment, from strictly corporate to casual and cool. You may also like to check out SEEK company reviews for the organisation to see if the culture or dress code is mentioned.

Research the names of key staff members (and the name of the interviewer) and do a search for images of them online to see what they are wearing in their professional photos. If they’re in a suit in their company headshot you can safely assume you should opt for a more corporate interview outfit. Alternatively, if they’re in jeans and a t-shirt, which can often be the case for tech or design companies, they might have a more relaxed dress code and you can opt for a smart casual look.

Quality is key

When heading to a job interview, fashion stylist Trisha Mee says to steer clear of anything that is revealing or ill-fitting as “it can bring down an otherwise well put together outfit”. The key she says is to always look polished.

In the lead up to your interview, consider investing in an outfit that is tailored to fit and replace any items that are starting to look like they’re past their expiry date. Even something as simple as the fabrics you wear can also make a big difference to your professional attire. For example items in a natural fibre, such as wool will always look smarter than one in a synthetic material that can look shiny. Avoid shopping online if you can, so that you can get a feel for the material (and also ask the shop assistant their opinion on the fit!).  

Most importantly, keep it simple. Even though you might love that clinking bracelet or bright neon shirt, there could be a chance the interviewer will find it distracting. Remember, you want them to focus on your answers and not your attire, so save those items to change into after you get home.

For a corporate office

If you’re interviewing at a corporate organisation, a suit – either in full or as a separate pant or jacket - can be a failsafe option for men and women. Opt for neutral hues such as black, navy, tan or grey.  

For women, shoes in a classic style will generally complement any corporate outfit. Women might also choose to wear a shift dress with a jacket, or pencil skirt and blouse.

what to wear job interview ideas corporate women

For men, it’s better to err on the side of caution and wear a tie. If you arrive early (which you should for every interview) and see that no one entering or exiting the building is wearing one, it can easily be removed and placed in your pants/blazer pocket or bag. Oxford shoes also generally go with any corporate outfit.

what to wear job interview ideas corporate men

For a casual or creative environment

Jeans and a tee may be fine for everyday office attire in a more casual work environment, but it’s always better to take it up a notch for a job interview. Looking and feeling great also has the added benefit of giving you an extra confidence boost on the day.

For women, a creative environment means you can inject a little more creativity in your outfits. That said, it’s best to choose only one element for this. Whether that’s a skirt with a work-appropriate print (no clashing colours or 80’s hibiscus print allowed!) or a different texture, such as a silk shirt – make sure you pair it with simple elements, to ensure the overall look remains professional.   

what to wear job interview ideas creative women

For men, a pair of chinos, a collared, button-down shirt and brogues will look casual yet smart. For cooler climates and seasons, a blazer or knit in good condition (no pilling!) will keep you warm without sacrificing your professional style. 

what to wear job interview ideas creative men

Pay attention to detail

Mee says that it’s often the little things that can make a difference to an outfit. Your professional attire may be on point but you can let yourself down if you don’t pay attention to the finishing touches, from a belt and cufflinks to appropriate jewellery that complements your outfit without being distracting.

A job interview should be considered a more formal occasion so the bag you bring also should be on the dressy side, such as a simple leather tote or shoulder bag. Leave canvas bags or backpacks for the weekend.

what to wear job interview ideas accessories

Don’t forget...

And Mee’s final tip? Always, always iron your clothes. You may think your dress or slacks don’t look wrinkled out of the washing machine (or shopping bag), but it’s better to take a few minutes to press them than risk looking disheveled in a job interview.

Now you’re all set to make a great first impression, it's time to prepare for the actual interview, including how to answer difficult questions as well as planning questions to ask your interviewer.

Good luck!

Images reproduced with permission. 

  • Womenswear, accessories & shoes from www.birdsnest.com.au
  • Menswear, belts & cufflinks from www.mjbale.com
  • Men's shoes & ties from www.aquila.com.au