Part of presenting yourself well for a job interview involves dressing neatly in clean and ironed clothes.
It's important to dress well for a job interview, even if you don’t think clothes are important for the job (for example, if you’ll be wearing a uniform in the job or it's a job where you'll get dirty).
Dressing well for a job interview:
- shows the employer you're taking the interview seriously
- sends a signal that you really want the job
- makes you feel more confident and professional.
Why dressing well for a job interview is important
First impressions are really important in a job interview. The interviewer will probably make assumptions about you based on your personal presentation. They do this without thinking about it, and even before you’ve said a word. Because of that it’s worth taking some time to think about what your clothes and personal appearance show about you during a job interview.
In general, it’s better to dress in neutral and simple clothing – or what’s appropriate for the particular workplace. For the majority of workplaces, it’s best not to make a bold statement with your appearance or personal presentation at the job interview. It’s better to impress the interviewer with your confidence, skills and experience.
What to wear to a job interview: the basics
If you've got a job interview coming up, you don’t need to spend money on a new outfit. You just need the basics:
- a neat and plain shirt or top
- trousers or a skirt
- dress shoes, rather than sneakers. If you don’t have dress shoes, then make sure your sneakers look neat.
It’s best to avoid wearing things that are too casual like tank tops or crop tops.
It's also important to make sure the clothes you wear to your interview are clean and ironed.
If you're not sure what to wear to your interview, you could get some ideas the following ways:
- ask a friend or family member who's done an interview before
- ask people who work at the place you're being interviewed
- ask people who have the same kind of job
- visit the workplace to see what people who work there are wearing – assuming they don’t wear a uniform.
What to wear for a more professional job interview
If you're being interviewed for a professional job, like an office job, it can be a good idea to go beyond the basics.
- If you’re male, consider wearing a tie. Sometimes it's a good idea to wear a jacket, or a suit as well (for example, you’d probably wear a suit to an interview for a graduate position in a law firm).
- If you're female, you have more options for what to wear, but generally you should wear something formal or semi-formal.
If you're not sure what to wear to your interview, it’s generally better to dress more formally, rather than less formally.
Doing your hair and makeup for a job interview
Hair and makeup are another important part of what to wear to a job interview.
- You don’t need to get a fashionable haircut before an interview. Just make sure your hair is neat and tidy.
- When doing your makeup, consider using natural tones and avoiding makeup that’s too loud or distracting. A natural lip gloss might be a better choice than lipstick.
Tattoos and piercings at job interviews
Some interviewers might not like visible tattoos and piercings. If you want to play it safe, you could consider covering up your tattoos and removing your piercings. This way you can be more confident the interviewer will make up their mind about you based on your skills and experience, not your appearance.
If tattoos and piercings are a big part of who you are, though, it might be better to be open about them. That way the interviewer won’t get a surprise if, for example, you show up for your first day at work with facial piercings.
Getting ready before a job interview
Once you've worked out what you're going to wear, it's a good idea to make sure you have enough time to get ready before the interview. Here are some tips:
- The night before your interview, get all of your clothes and gear laid out and ready (for example, make sure your clothes are ironed and your shoes are polished).
- On the day of the interview, leave yourself enough time to get dressed so you don’t have to rush.
- Take a shower, wash your hair and put on deodorant (it’s best not to use cologne or perfume, which are easy to overdo).
- If you can, get a friend or family member to look you over before you leave in case you've forgotten something or put something on wrong.
A video on how to dress to impress and best present yourself for job interview success.
Job interview checklist
Our Job interview checklist has information about:
- ways to get ready for an interview
- common questions and how to answer them.
Select the links to download the version of the checklist that you want:
- Youth Central - Job interview checklist - Word (648.04 KB)
- Youth Central - Job interview checklist - PDF (193.63 KB)