When it comes to the job interview, you want to make sure you're dressed to impress

What you wear to an interview is as important as what's on your resume. We've all heard varying advice on the dress code for a job interview, and you probably don't know who exactly to trust on this matter. 

  • Can you get creative? 

  • Can you show personality

  • Are neutral colors the only way to go?  

No matter what type of interview you're going to during the job search, you want to make a positive impression while still appearing professional and suitable for the position. Read below for tips on what to wear to a job interview as a female, whether you're going for an internship or an executive-level position.

How to pick what to wear to an interview

You may have a lot of articles of clothing in your closet or just a few things to choose from. No matter how diverse or limited your wardrobe is, the first thing you should do is research the company


Yes, before you head to the closet to thumb through the articles of clothing on the hangers, you have to learn what the company you're interviewing with expects. You're not likely to find an employee handbook online that lays out the company's dress code, but you can figure out what to wear to your interview by looking at images on the website or social media profiles. 

There's an additional benefit to figuring out how the employees of the company dress before picking out your interview outfit. When you see what the people at the company wear, you get a hint at the company's culture, which is great for determining if the company is right for you. 

What to wear to a job interview for females

Now that you have an idea of what they already wear at the company, it's time to head to your closet. There is an old adage that you should dress for the job you want, rather than the job you have. 


Black, white, gray, navy blue, brown, or beige are all acceptable colors to wear when it comes to a job interview. You can add a touch of color by wearing hints of light blue, pale pink, or light yellow and still convey professionalism. 


Dress pants, pencil skirts, knee-length dresses, blazers, neutral or light-colored blouses, sweaters, cardigans, tights, and suits are all acceptable forms of interview attire. 


Dress shoes should be closed-toed heels, flats, or short boots. If you opt for heels, be sure that you know how to walk in them. Twisting your ankle on the way to the interview room is not the first impression you want to leave with the interviewer. 

A tiny bit of flair

If you're interviewing for a creative or artistic position, you can add a bit more flair to your outfit - but keep it minimal and strategic. For example, you can add a piece of jewelry, more color, or a statement bag.

Hair and makeup

Did you ever hear the phrase, “Less is more?” Well, that's certainly true for job interviews. Deciding what to wear to your interview as a female involves more than the fabric you put on your body. Part of the style you choose involves how you'll wear your hair and makeup. 

  • Hair do's: Neat, tidy, ponytail, classic style (like a simple updo), natural color

  • Hair don'ts: Overly elaborate styles that distract from your overall appearance, wild or unconventional colors

  • Makeup do's: Subtle and natural, long-lasting products (you don't want your lipstick to disappear)

  • Makeup don't's: Heavy foundation, dramatic eye colors, painted-on shapes, sharp contrasts

Even if your personal style involves bright blue eyeliner and sharp contouring on the bridge of your nose, as an example, you want to avoid that for your job interview. An interview is your time to shine, but you have to do it in a way that demonstrates what you have to offer the company and how your skills and qualifications align with the job they have open. This isn't the time to make a personal statement with dramatic makeup or wild hair. 


While you want to dress to impress during your interview, you should also consider what's comfortable. Comfort equals confidence, and confidence equals nailing the interview. You definitely don't want to be sitting across from a potential employer constantly adjusting your outfit because something doesn't feel right.

What not to wear to an interview for females

Everyone has a unique style and a particular type of clothes they like to wear. However, when you're deciding what to wear to a job interview, there are some definite no-no's to keep in mind, regardless of your personal style.

Your resume is the first impression you make regarding your skills and qualifications. Walking into an interview room or turning your camera on during a virtual interview is the first impression you'll give as to whether you'll fit within the company's culture. So, being neutral is definitely a good idea. Meaning you should avoid 

  • Bright colors

  • Knee-high boots

  • Anything furry

  • Flip-flops

  • Loud accessories

  • Smelly perfume

Additionally, and this may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure what you wear is clean and pressed. There are few things in this world that will immediately show that you don't pay attention to details like a stain on the sleeve of your blouse. 

Putting together outfits for your job interview as a female

You've likely seen the phrases business casual, business professional, or business formal when researching what to wear to a job interview. What in the world is the difference between each, and how do you determine which you should choose for your interview?

It can be confusing, especially if the photos of employees you find online suggest that everyone dresses down for their role. Mostly, though, it's going to depend on the role that you're applying for.

  • Is the position customer-facing?

  • Are you going to be working from home?

  • Will you be meeting with company executives?

  • How do people in your industry normally dress?

Business casual vs business formal

You'll find that most companies lean one way or another as far as dress code goes – they're either fairly casual or very formal. Again, the appropriate attire for you to wear to your job interview is going to depend a lot on the nature of the job, the company's culture, and industry norms. 

For example, this is how you should dress for the two most common types of companies.  

Business Casual

You can choose between either dress pants or a pencil skirt, with a nice blouse or button-down shirt, or a knee-length dress. While the name says casual, you want your appearance to be neat, presentable, professional, and polished. 

Business casual outfits are usually found in roles that don't require you to regularly interact with others – clients or leaders. 

Business Formal

For a more formal setting, you want to go with either a pantsuit, statement dress, dress pants, or pencil skirt with a nice blouse and blazer or a knee-length dress with a blazer. You want to look as professional and business-appropriate as possible for this job interview.

You will find that business formal outfits fall into a more traditional type of dress code that will largely be based on industry norms. Ultimately, if you're going to be in a client-facing role or have regular interaction with people in higher positions than you, you'll probably want to opt for something more formal. 

Now that you know what type of clothing you should be wearing, what are the correct combinations for the different positions you will be applying to or interview situations you might find yourself in?

What to wear to a job interview in every situation


Recruiters and hiring managers won't expect you to be in a full suit for an internship interview, but you should still dress professionally and strive for a good impression while still being as comfortable as possible. A pencil skirt or slacks with a nice blouse or dress will show you're professional without breaking the bank.

Startup positions

Startup jobs are often more casual than higher-level positions. Dressing for this type of casual interview is similar to dressing for an internship. While you want to make an impression, dressing up too much could make everyone uncomfortable and show that you didn't do your research beforehand.

Entry-level positions

When interviewing for an entry-level position, take a look at the company culture to determine how dressed up you should be. If the culture is business-casual or you can't find the information, dress pants, pencil skirt, and a nice blouse will be fine. If the company is business-professional, dress in a suit or dress with a blazer.

Mid-to-Senior level positions

At this point in your career, business formal is the way to go unless you know the company culture is casual. Since you'll more than likely be moving up in your career in this type of interview, you want to show you're professional and ready for the new responsibility by reflecting it in your outfit.

Management and executive positions

For management or executive positions, business formal is the only way to go. You're interviewing for a leadership position and dressing as nicely as possible will demonstrate that you're ready for all that's involved with your potential new title. You want to dress in a manner that conveys power and presence, so recruiters know you have what it takes to lead others as soon as you walk in.

Virtual interviews

Skype and video job interviews should be treated the same as face-to-face interviews when it comes to attire. Depending on the level of the position you're interviewing for, you should take the above tips and apply them for online interviews. You want to make sure your video interview is in a setting that is professional and appropriate for the interview; the interviewer doesn't want to see your dirty room behind you.

Phone interviews

This one seems odd, right? Why bother dressing nicely for this type of interview? But with phone interviews, while the recruiter can't see you, dressing in something nice will give you a confidence boost and make you feel more professional while speaking to them.

What to wear to an interview as a woman - frequently asked questions

1. Can you be overdressed for an interview?

Yes, you can be overdressed when you go to an interview. In fact, being overdressed can give off a sense that you didn't do any research about the company or that you know very little about industry norms. This is why, when you're trying to decide what to wear to an interview, you should start with a bit of research. And while you want to err on the side of professionalism, you also want to align your interview outfit with the norms of the company and industry.

2. Is it OK to wear all black to an interview?

Black is definitely a timeless color that's associated with professionalism, especially when you're applying for a role in a conservative field. However, you still want to make sure that level of formality is the norm. The overall recommendation would be that you add a bit of color, either with jewelry or shoes, so that you don't look like you're going to a funeral. 

3. Should a woman wear her hair up or down for an interview?

When putting together your outfit for a job interview, the decision to wear your hair up or down is entirely up to you. In fact, the decision to style your hair can be one way that you adequately convey a sense of your personal style. The bottom line is, again, whether the style you choose is within industry norms or aligns with what you found out about the company during your research. 

What you wear to an interview can make or break your candidacy

Dressing appropriately will help you to make a great first impression, so you can wow recruiters with your accomplishments and personality. Dress to impress and you'll rock the interview!

You have the perfect outfit picked out, but are you truly prepared for your next job interview? Talk to one of TopInterview's coaches today and find out!

This article was originally written by Felicia Tatum and has been updated by Marsha Hebert. 

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