‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ might be a good mantra to live by, but it’s also a sure-fire way to strike fear into the heart of anyone prepping for a job interview.
Knowing what to wear to an interview isn't always easy, especially if you've been asked to attend an interview in the office itself, rather than over Zoom.
First impressions are made fast - sometimes within the first few seconds - meaning the stakes are pretty high when it comes to interview outfits. To take the pressure off, we’ve put together the ultimate guide of 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, give it an iron and leave it hanging in your wardrobe - underwear and all.
Knowing that 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 is such a fan!). Wear yours with a blazer and boots in winter, swapping for pointed flats in summer.
A wardrobe essential, the humble black blazer has the ability to make any outfit feel instantly pulled together. 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. 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: The above, however, doesn’t give you the green light to throw 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 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
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.
Originally launched as a men’s tailoring brand, Reiss know 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.
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:
Gemima Button Collar Knitted Dress, £195, Reiss
An investment buy that'll work as hard as you do, wear this luxe jumper dress with black tights and boots for an easy outfit.
Florence Top, £65, Boden
Give a plain black trouser suit a refresh with the help of this pretty printed blouse. It'll look just as good with jeans at the weekend too.
Pinstripes Tapered Ankle Grazer Trousers, £35, M&S
Available in short, regular and long leg lengths, these pinstriped beauties will go with any top. The elasticated back keeps them comfy too.
Purple Wool Blend Cardigan, £35, Wallis
The perfect layering piece for chilly says, the longline shape and button-cuff detail make this one of the smartest cardies we've seen.
Belt Suit Blazer, £79.99, Mango
Nothing says interview-ready quite like a blazer. This one is super feminine thanks to the nipped-in belted waist.
Blue Oversized Collar Ditsy Blouse, £32.99, Topshop
In the world of Zoom interviews, it's only your top half that counts. This big-collar blouse is sure to make an impact.
Calf-Length Dress, £29.99, H&M
The midi length and high neck keep this office-appropriate, while the punchy print adds a little personality.
Ivory Detail Sleeve Coat, £69.99, Dorothy Perkins
Tip-toeing the line between smart and stylish, this ivory coat is a chic alternative to grey or black.
Animal Print Leather Loafers, £55.99, Zara
A good pair of loafers will always earn their keep in your wardrobe. The slightly elongated toe makes these really flattering.
Circle Across Body Bag, £26, Next
Travel light to your interview. This small bag has just enough room for your phone, purse, keys and lippy.
Animal Print Skirt, £45, Monsoon at John Lewis
Team with a lightweight black jumper for a failsafe outfit.