Job Interviews: What to Wear

It takes between seven and seventeen seconds for a person to make an impression of us and much of that impression is based on how we look. It stand to reason, then, that what we wear to job interviews will make a far greater impact on our success than anything we're likely to say once those first crucial seconds have passed.

Dress For the Job

If you're applying for a job as a sale assistant in a trendy boutique in a hip part of town, what you wear will need to be very different to what you'd wear when being interviewed for a job as a lawyer's personal assistant.

By wearing what you believe you'd wear to work if offered the job, you're silently saying that you understand the position you're applying for and that you have the knowledge to fulfil the company's expectations.

If you're applying for a job where you'd be wearing a uniform, think about the kind of uniform that you'd be likely to wear. Is it very casual, as in the unformed overalls given to a car mechanic? Is it smart casual, as often worn by delivery couriers? Is it smart, like the kind of uniform worn by bank employees or perhaps a hotel doorman? Choose your wardrobe to reflect the uniform.


  • Casual - Clean, pressed jeans with a T-shirt or sweat top
  • Smart Casual - Casual slacks with a cotton shirt and blazer
  • Smart - A suit


  • Casual - Clean, pressed jeans with a casual top
  • Smart Casual - Pants or a skirt with a casual blouse
  • Smart - A pant or skirt suit with a smart blouse

    The above are simply guidelines - always use your own common sense when deciding what to wear. A job interview for a position in a trendy night club would demand something very different to what you'd wear to ace an interview for a job as a supervisor in a biscuit factory, even though both jobs would suggest you wear 'smart casual'.



  • Never wear make-up unless you're applying for a job where male cosmetics are generally accepted (trendy night clubs/boutiques etc)
  • Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. If you wear an earring, make it a small stud. Leave heavy chains and large rings at home and replace them with something less obtrusive. You may like the message such items of jewelry give but the chances are your interviewer won't
  • Never wear track shoes, even if you're dressing casually


  • Subtle make-up
  • A few, well-chosen pieces of jewelry. Studs in the ears, a delicate chain around the neck and 1-2 rings are enough. Unless you need a large bag to carry a portfolio or similar, stick with a small purse
  • Heels should be low

    Personal Hygiene

    Whilst job hunting it's important you:

  • Have your hair trimmed and styled regularly
  • Keep finger nails trimmed and clean
  • Wear deodorant
  • Wear only a very light perfume/after-shave, if any

    Men should be clean shaven or have a beard kept neatly trimmed.

    By following these tips you'll be giving yourself a far greater chance of successfully securing the job that you want. Remember: seven to seventeen seconds is all you have to make that all-important first impression.

    Sharon Jacobsen is a freelance writer based in South Cheshire, England. She has been writing in one form or another all of her life but as she hasn't always been self-employed, she's learned a few things about working life along the way.

    To contact Sharon or to learn more about her work, please visit:

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