When it comes to the job interview, you want to make sure you are 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 how to dress 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 are going to, you want to make a positive impression while still appearing professional and suitable for the position. Read below for tips on how to dress for all interviews, from internships to executive-level positions.

What qualifies as appropriate attire?

Black, white, gray, navy, 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 a 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 clothing for the interview. Shoes should be closed-toed heels, flats, or short boots.

Definitely avoid bright colors, knee-high boots, anything furry, loud accessories, and smelly perfume. Also, make sure you do your research beforehand and figure out what type of company you are interviewing for in terms of dress. 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 a knee-length dress. While the name says casual, you want your appearance to be neat, presentable, professional, and polished.

Business Formal: For a more formal setting, you want to go with either a pantsuit, 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 interview.

If you are 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 you made, more color, or a statement bag.

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

Internships

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 a nice dress will show you are professional without breaking the bank.

Startup positions

Startup jobs are often more casual than higher-level positions. Dressing for this type of 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 will more than likely be moving up in your career in this type of interview, you want to show you are professional and ready for the new responsibility by having it reflected 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 are 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.

Skype or video interviews

Skype and video interviews should be treated the same as face-to-face interviews. Depending on the level of the position you are 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.

When preparing for an interview, you want to research the company and the culture to know how to dress. If you know someone who works there, it’s fine to ask. If it’s somewhere you have been before, you can pick your outfit based on how you saw others dress. You want to make sure the outfit fits and is as comfortable as possible — it should make you feel confident.

Dressing appropriately will help you 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!

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