Wondering what to wear to an interview? Well, first things first - you won’t be hired by an employer simply because you look dynamite (unless you’re going for a job in fashion design and personally hand-sew all of your own clothes), but you can certainly give such a bad impression in the first few moments of meeting someone that they decide not to hire you before the interview even starts. We’re here to take you through the types of outfits that people wear to work in some of the main graduate sectors, and give you some top tips on looking polished and ready to make an amazing first impression.
Law, Business and Finance interviews
Let's start with the boring stuff (no offense, Law students) and put together an outfit for an interview at a law firm, financial services business or another ‘serious’ company. Lawyers aren’t known for being exceptionally flashy dressers, so it’s time to leave that fez at home and push those ripped jeans to the back of the drawer and don an exceptionally inoffensive suit.
Colour Palette: Black, white, navy, grey
What to wear: Suits, only suits. Stick with classic shapes and fabrics - no skinny trousers or weird knitted ties. Women can wear trousers suits or skirt suits, but most law firms expect a collared blouse rather than a suit dress.
- A well-ironed shirt with neutral cufflinks
- A smart, well fitted, dry-cleaned suit from somewhere that your parents would approve of, like M&S
- Polished, smart black shoes (polish in advance so you don’t smell weird when you go in)
- A tie that coordinates with your outfit in a basic print (like stripes) or a subtle textured weave. No cartoon hamburgers
- Probably clean-shaven, law firms aren’t famously keen on the lumbersexual look
- Freshly trimmed and styled hair (above the collar)
- No aftershave. Seriously, you may love the smell of ‘carbon ocean ice’ or ‘thunder pick axe’ or whatever is written on the bottle, but your interviewers may have a very different opinion. A good scrub and a nice neutral deodorant is all you need!
- A well ironed shirt or formal blouse
- A smart suit with either sensible trousers (what a horrible phrase, sorry) or a knee-length skirt.
- Tights (if you’re a skirt-wearer) in black or nude
- A hijab (if you’re a hijab wearer) in black or a colour that coordinates with your suit
- Hair styled neatly or tied back
- If you’re a makeup wearer, keep it neutral and professional (leave that unicorn highlighter at home)
- Neat black shoes or heels (not too high)
- Same as the guys - keep your perfume to a minimum or just go fresh with a shower and deodorant
Admin & HR Interviews
Follow similar rules to those heading into a role in Law, Business or finance, but don’t be afraid to give your outfit a bit if a personal twist. If the role you are applying for involves talking directly with people, manning a reception desk or liaising with managers and employees, then you’ll want to ensure that you come across as professional but approachable. There’s no need for the clinical precision of a junior barrister here. Stick with suits, or a suit dress and smart heels and shoes but don’t be afraid to splash a flash of colour around or experiment with a little texture.
- Stick with a tie and a suit, but feel free to experiment with slightly cooler cuts and fabrics. Navy’s a good colour for suits in Admin & HR roles
- Feel free to wear smart dresses with a suit jacket
- Keep jewelry simple and to a minimum
Creatives, Marketing, Publishing and the Arts interviews
This is a tricky one - there are a huge amount of different careers that all fall under the umbrella of ‘Creative’ - but it’s also the sector that you can have the most fun with! If you’re going for a role in marketing then keep it fun but professional. Use interesting fabrics and colours to sell your personal style, and think about the particular industry you’ll be interviewing for. People in the tech industry or digital marketing are famous for wearing trainers to work (and I wouldn’t part with my Air Max for love nor money) but those in big advertising industries tend to wear a 21st century version of the Mad Men wardrobe. If you’re going to be VERY creative, focusing on art and design, then you can pretty much wear what you damn well please.
Public Services, Charity and Teaching interviews
If you’re going to be teaching, then you’ll want to wear something pretty conservative. If you’ll be working with primary school children, then bright fabrics, comfortable shoes and easy-to-wash outfits are key. Think floral dresses, cardigans, chino trousers, jumpers and soft cotton shirts. Secondary school teachers are more likely to appreciate a good suit in an interview, but anything conservative and professional should be fine. Just avoid anything that will make the kids laugh at you…
Sales and Retail Interviews
Wear black. Seriously, it’s the retail uniform of dreams, and if you’re applying for a role out on the shop floor you’ll probably be asked to wear black, so dress for the role you want. Why not head into the store first and do a bit of research? If you can spot a manager, make a mental note of how they dress, and wear something similar to your interview. If you’re applying for a retail grad scheme, then I’m afraid it’s back to those suits from the Law, Business & Finance section.
General Interview Attire Tips
When deciding what to wear to an interview, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed
If you’re feeling particularly creepy, swing by the offices at the start or end of the day, and see what outfits people are working
If in doubt, ask! Employers would much rather an interviewee asked what the dress code was before an interview than guessing and getting it wildly wrong
Dress for the job you want - if you’re applying for a role as a part time classroom assistant, but one day want to become head of sixth form, then wear that
Let your personality shine through, and not by wearing your jazziest jumpsuit and hoop earrings. The answers you give in your interview need to shine more brightly than your outfit
Don’t wear heels if you can’t walk in them. Nobody wants to hire Bambi on ice.
Don’t forget your glasses if you need them!
Do relax. If you don’t get this role, ask for honest feedback from your interviewers, take it on board and get right back out there by applying for more roles! And if they say they hated your leopard print angora beret, then don’t wear it to the next interview.
We hope you've found the answer to 'What to Wear to an Interview?' here. If not, drop us a message and let us know the tips you wish you'd known! Now go forth and be an interview god.
If you liked this, why not check out out brand new Graduates Section, packed with ideas and tips on that post-uni life!
So there you have it - what to wear to an interview - the ultimtate guide.