By Jess Beech
Whether it's face-to-face or via Zoom, knowing what to wear to an interview isn't always easy.
We hate to say it, but first impressions are made fast - sometimes within the first few seconds - meaning the stakes are pretty high when it comes to interviewing outfits. So, to take the pressure off, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to what to wear to an interview - all with the aim of helping you get hired.
Our top tip? No matter what you’re wearing, decide on your outfit the night before. Try it on, iron it to perfection, and leave it hanging in your wardrobe or bedroom door - best bra, knickers, and all. Knowing that an important part of your prep is taken care of will help you feel calmer in the morning.
What to wear to an interview
It’s important to look smart for an interview, but you also want your outfit to be a reflection of your personality. If you feel uncomfortable in a stuffy new suit, it’ll show. Instead, opt for something a little closer to your comfort zone - as long as it’s modest and smart, it’ll fit the bill. Midi dresses tick all our boxes here (there's a reason why the Duchess of Cambridge dresses almost exclusively in them!). Wear yours with a blazer and boots in winter, swapping for pointed flats in summer.
A wardrobe essential, the humble blazer has the ability to make any outfit feel instantly pulled together. To keep things smart, stick to a muted color palette of black, grey, and navy. Anything too colorful, and you run the risk of looking unprofessional. Go matchy-matchy with co-ordinating tailored trousers, or layer yours over a blouse and skirt combo.
Offering all the leg-lengthening benefits of a pair of heels but none of the pain, pointed pumps are perfect for interviews. Choose yours in nude or cream to max out your cost-per-wear - hopefully in your new job!
What not to wear to a job interview
Worried about making a fashion faux pas? We’ve broken down the pieces to avoid when deciding what to wear to an interview...
- Ill-fitting clothing: Too big, too small, too long, too short - anything that needs regular adjusting and will cause you to fiddle when you’re nervous is a no-go. In the best-case scenario, it’ll only distract you. But worst case, the interviewer will notice too.
- Short hemlines or plunging necklines: There’s enough to worry about during a job interview without the impending fear of a wardrobe malfunction. You never know if there might be a task too, so midi lengths and high necklines are best.
- Uncomfortable shoes: You want to stride into an interview with confidence - not limp your poor, blistered-feet into the room. Interview day is not the time to wear a new pair for the first time - wear them in beforehand.
- Flip flops or siders: We know we said your shoes need to be comfortable, but that doesn’t give the green light for throwing on a pair of flip-flops. Go for a closed-toe shoe for a professional feel.
- Sportswear: Swap sweatshirts, joggers, and trainers for a neat blouse, tailored trousers, and a pair of pumps.
- Hats: It’s traditionally considered impolite to wear a hat inside, so in case your interviewer is a stickler for etiquette, leave yours at home.
Can you wear jeans to a job interview?
Of course, it depends on the nature of the job you’re applying for, but as a general rule wearing even your best jeans to an interview is a big no-no.
Dressing too casually can backfire, with the interviewer getting the impression that you’re not keen enough on the role to make an effort.
If you do think that jeans might be appropriate for a particular interview, make sure they’re dark indigo or black, with a skinny or straight leg. Relaxed, boyfriend fit, or light wash jeans will feel too casual.
Brands to consider when deciding what to wear to an interview
Originally launched as a men’s tailoring brand, Reiss knows a thing or two about what makes a well-fitting work wardrobe. Their palette is always muted - think creams, greys, and pinks - making them easy to mix and match with other pieces in your wardrobe.
Browse Boden for a personality-packed take on classic pieces. Expect vibrant jewel tones and luxe fabrics. Add one of their silky, patterned blouses to a simple black suit for extra style points.
There’s rarely a fashion problem M&S can’t solve, keeping us covered for all occasions. Thanks to a reliable work-wear line, it’s a great place to shop affordable, interview-ready pieces. Their M&S Collection range is more classic, with Autograph and Per Una covering more trend-led styles.
Interview-ready buys to shop now
H&M Suit Pants
Available in black, navy, and grey, these straight-cut pants are an interview essential.
Boden Abercorn Scallop Cardigan
Smart and sophisticated, this cute cardie will keep you warm on chilly interview days. In fact, Kate Middleton wore the exact same Boden sweater for a recent Zoom call.
Phase Eight Tana Midi Leaf Dress
The perfect example of an interview-appropriate dress, the low-key print adds personality without stealing focus. We love the smart shirt collar and midi length too.
Mango Pocket Shopper Bag
Roomy enough for all your day-to-day essentials plus any files or folders you might need to bring with you.
Zara Oversized Double Breasted Jacket
Deliberately oversized, this check blazer manages to feel both smart and stylish all at once. Use to add interest to an otherwise muted outfit.
M&S Collection Leather Pumps
Crafted from buttery soft leather, you won't feel the pinch in these bargain pumps. They come in black too.
Reiss Maggie Circle Printed Blouse
Interview dressing doesn't have to be boring. Liven up a pair of simple black trousers with this pretty printed blouse. It'll look just as good with jeans and heels when you head out to celebrate getting the job too.
Next Revere Collar Coat
A camel coat is a staple in any capsule wardrobe and something you can always rely on to add polish to your interview outfit.
Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is currently Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC.
She caught the magazine bug during a stint as Fashion Editor of her university newspaper alongside her English degree, and hasn’t looked back since. As for the fashion bug, that came as part and parcel of growing up in the 90s, but the less said about that the better!
Jess’ average day in the office is spent researching the latest fashion trends, chatting to industry tastemakers and scouring the internet to bring you this season’s must-buy pieces - as well as advice on how to wear them. Weekends are equally fashion-focused, and Jess has been known to visit no less than five Zara stores in a single day in search of the perfect occasion dress.
The only thing that comes close to a buzz of finally tracking down that much-coveted dress is the joy of discovering a new beauty wonder product or hero ingredient. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.
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