When Dressing for an Interview, Know the Do's and Don'ts

By Robert Half February 20, 2015 at 2:00pm

When you’re dressing for a job interview, reach for your business suit instead of your jeans and polo — and definitely not your leather pants and cowboy boots — even if the company you’re meeting with is super-casual.

In a Robert Half Technology survey, 46 percent of executives said a formal business suit is a job candidate’s most appropriate attire when dressing for an interview. Although technology and creative departments tend to be more casual, hiring managers still want to see that job candidates make an effort to look professional for the interview.

Whatever you do, don't show up in a manner that will cause the hiring manager to be offended, or swayed to answer 'no' to the 3 Things Employers Want to Know in In-Person Interviews.

If you're working with a recruiter or HR representative, ask for insights into the company's dress code. And keep the following guidelines in mind when dressing for an interview:

What to wear to an interview? Focus on the do's

  • Do: Test-drive an outfit to ensure it fits well, has no noticeable fabric flaws, and it makes you feel confident.
  • Do: Pay attention to details and check how you look from head to toe before leaving for the interview to make sure everything – including your hair, nails and shoes – is presentable. Do any final touch up ironing on your suit if need be. (Be sure to read the care instructions on the garment label to ensure ironing is OK for the fabric.)
  • Do: Dress in layers so you can be comfortable regardless of the temperature.
  • Do: Choose simple jewelry and be subtle with makeup.

Robert Half has been helping job seekers find great career opportunities since 1948. Enlist our placement specialists to find the right job for you.

And avoid the don'ts

  • Don’t: Show up sporting wrinkled clothes or unkempt hair. (Believe us, it warrants repeating.)
  • Don’t: Wear anything uncomfortable, such as an itchy fabric, or a sweater that will cause you to overheat. Interviews can take a long time, and you can't be sure of the office temperature until you arrive.
  • Don’t: Overdo your use of perfume, cologne or body spray. Your interviewer's nose may be turned off by heavy fragrance.
  • Don’t: Assume you can "dress down," even if you know a company has a very casual atmosphere.

Keep your eyes on the prize

The bottom line when dressing for an interview is making sure you don't stand out for the wrong reasons. Inappropriate attire can distract you and the interviewer from focusing on the main reason you're here: For the person you interview with to consider whether you can do the job and will fit in. Your interviewer can’t focus on your qualifications if you’re wearing a tube top or a bandanna and torn jeans, as some candidates have in the past. So increase the likelihood that your interview will go smoothly by dressing appropriately.

How should you dress for a video interview? Check out our tips for acing this kind of meeting with a hiring manager.

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