How to dress for an interview – a women’s guide

interview dress how to

Upon first meeting another person, the human brain takes only seconds to make several crucial character judgments. According to Business Insider, these include trustworthiness, status within society, intelligence, dominance, and current and future career success. These traits are among important qualities that future employers are evaluating during a face-to-face interview. This means that in a very real way, the first 30 seconds of your interview are the most important in determining the likelihood of you receiving the job.

In this guide, we’ll cover some of the DO’s and DON’Ts of interview attire to help ensure that you can make the best impression during those vital 30 seconds.


Understand the difference between business casual and business professional. A business professional dress includes wearing dress slacks or a skirt with a matching blazer, all in dark or neutral colors. Business casual allows more variation in color and style and doesn’t require a blazer. You may opt for wearing a simpler top, sweater or cardigan.

If you’re unsure of which attire is appropriate, feel free to ask your interviewer which is best as they set up your meeting time and location. However, should you have lingering doubts, always choose: business professional.


Dress too casually. In a survey reported on by The University of Kent, The Ladders Management Careers Company found that in interviews, 37% of high ranking business executives had turned down candidates simply because of how the candidate was dressed.  From that article, “Traditional formal interview dress is the most likely to impress them whereas the biggest turnoffs involved casual dress.”  (Hint Hint:  When in doubt, dress in full business professional.)


Focus on the overall appearance of neatness.If the fit of your blazer, pants or skirt even suggests the word “sloppy”,  it is worth the time and money to have them altered so they fit well.  Also, ensure that on the day of your interview your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free.  Choose a hairstyle that appears neat and clean. Go for make-up that creates a soft and natural look.  (Now is not the time for that new dramatic smoky eye that is all the rage.)  For additional tips go to


Go for a “bold statement.” To our self-proclaimed fashionistas, an interview is a perfect time to focus on professional, classy and minimalistic clothing.  Bulky jewelry, bold patterns or loud colors will draw attention to your outfit instead of you.  Stick to more conservative and modest attire.  An important part of this component of your dress is not showing too much skin.  Ensure that your neckline is high enough to cover cleavage, that your hemline extends to your knees, and that the fabrics you choose are not transparent.



Dress to impress both them AND YOU!   Dressing well will also not only help your potential employer see you to your best advantage, but it will also help you feel more confident.

In a study from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, they found that subjects who during testing wore white coats they’d been told belonged to doctors performed higher than the other subjects who tested wearing only their street clothes.  (Source :

Just by dressing like a professional, you will also feel more professional, which will give you the confidence to perform with more confidence under pressure.  In just one example, increasing your confidence will help you stay focused during the conversation and look your future employer in the eye.  “Looking while speaking [is] a key behavior,” writers Loyola Marymount University professor Nora A. Murphy.  She adds that simply keeping eye contact is “significantly correlated with IQ” and will contribute to giving others the perception of greater intelligence.

So, now that you have that perfect attire, just add your confidence and your smile to make the amazing first impression you need in order to get your most important interviews off to the right start!

Happy interviewing! 

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