When it comes to job interviews, first impressions really count. And unfortunately, you may only have seven seconds to make an initial impression, which means the clothes you wear play a key role. If your current wardrobe doesn’t fill you with confidence, don’t worry. With just a few tweaks, you can walk into that interview with confidence and style!

Here are some suggestions for what to wear to a job interview.

Polished and professional

First things first, you must be well-groomed.

For the ladies, the makeup you might wear dancing with the girls on a Saturday night is not appropriate for a job interview. Keep things simple and clean – bright blue glittery eye shadow or hot pink lipstick can be distracting and look harsh in an office setting. This certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear any makeup, but think polished and professional. The motto less is more definitely reigns supreme here.

This also goes for your nail length and polish colour. Steer clear of wild fluorescent hues or patterns, and make sure your nails are manicured and clean (no chips or hangnails); this goes for the fellas as well. No, I’m not talking about your nail polish gents, but I do mean being clean shaven and well groomed. There is, after all, something to be said about a fresh haircut – it shows you’re putting in the effort, and it might just make you feel more confident.

If you do have facial hair, please make sure it is tidy and neat. A wild, overgrown beard might not make the best impression (unless you’re applying for a job as a lumberjack).

Put the focus on you (not your outfit)

When it comes to choosing an outfit for your interview, remember that you want the focus to be on your personality, experience, and skills. So, the less distracting the outfit, the better. This doesn’t have to mean boring, but you shouldn’t be wearing an outfit that puts the focus on your ensemble (at the expense of why you should get the job).

what to wear to a Job Interview

To be safe, avoid overly trendy looks. If you consider it a weekend outfit, it is most likely not an interview outfit. This goes for denim as well. Sure, some casual tech offices might be ok with jeans at a job interview, but in most cases, you should not wear denim to an interview. It just looks way too casual for that kind of setting. This is especially true for distressed, ripped jeans, which make it seem as though you have not put any thought into your look – definitely not the impression you want to make.

Similarly, over-the-top prints can be distracting, and cartoonish colours are definite a no-no, along with anything sheer, plunging, or lacy. It’s also a good idea to hold off on bold costume jewelry, like over-sized earrings, bracelets, or big chunky statement necklaces; you don’t want to be clinking and clanging through the interview!

To avoid a wardrobe malfunction (like a big split up the back of your pants or a dress that is so tight you can’t focus because the pain is too uncomfortable from sucking in), don’t choose something you have never worn or tried on before. Plan ahead and have your outfit picked out ahead of time; you don’t want to be panic stricken the day of trying to find the perfect look. And don’t forget your old favorites. Comfort is definitely key and this will shine through in your demeanor during the interview. So, if you own a tailored suit or an amazing sheath dress and blazer that you look fabulous in, wear it.

What to wear to a Job Interview

Stay classy 

The real key is to strive for a classy look. In general, it’s a good idea to choose darker colours like black, navy, and grey (they also hide sweat stains if you’re a wee bit nervous!). You can always add a splash of colour with a blouse, tie, or bag.

When it comes to outfits, don’t feel as if you need to buy an entire wardrobe. Investing in a tailored blazer is a safe bet, but the idea should really be to amp up pieces you already have in your wardrobe to make them interview appropriate. Think a basic black dress or silk blouse for the ladies, and classic dress pants and a simple white button down for the guys.

A sophisticated “day dress” is another great buy for the ladies, but remember that hemlines should always be to the knee. When it comes to styling, make sure to choose a flattering shift style, which skims the body, or an A-line shape that is fitted at the waist and flares out at the hip. Medium weight fabrics, like crepe, or even heavier cottons will work any season, making this a versatile buy.

what to wear to a Job Interview

Similarly, a great pair of trousers is a work wardrobe go-to for men and women. Just make sure to choose a neutral colour in a medium weight fabric – avoid silks and linens that wrinkle easily and can look sloppy. Tailoring is key – make sure the hemline isn’t dragging across the floor or looking like you just escaped a flood!

Don’t forget the shoes

This brings us to where your interviewer will finish their “once-over.” Yes, your footwear.

First and foremost, make sure that your shoes are clean and polished. You can have the smartest suit in the world, but pair it with ratty footwear and you have gone from chic to eek! An easy and safe bet is a black or dark brown shoe in a simple style, without “bells and whistles.” Save your sneakers for the gym, even if they are brand new and your absolute faves, a job interview is not the venue to sport them to.

For the ladies, I would strongly suggest avoiding uncomfortable pumps or high heels; you don’t want to look like Bambi on ice while walking through the building! A mid-heel or kitten heel is a great option in a neutral colour, like grey, nude, or black. I like a closed-toe style, but make sure those toes are pedicured if you are exposing them.

Clothes only make part of the (wo)man

The most important accessory you can wear to a job interview is your confidence. Once you have that outfit put together, walk in there confidently, with great posture, a big smile, and a firm handshake, ready to take on the world!

For more on how to dress for an interview, check out this blog by StudentJob.

Good luck!


About Natalie Sexton

Natalie Sexton is a fashion stylist, professional makeup artist, and blogger. For more than a decade, Natalie’s passion for fashion and all things girly have been the driving force behind her Canadian-made brand of “Sexton in the City” Makeup, Clothing & Accessories. She can be seen regularly on CTV’s THE MARILYN DENIS SHOW, where she breaks down the latest fashion trends for viewers. For more information on Natalie Sexton, visit SextonInTheCity.ca. You can also follow Natalie on Twitter @SextonNTheCity.

*Images via Natalie Sexton Pinterest*