Did you know you only have seven seconds to make a good first impression when you walk through the door at an interview? This short time frame can make or break your chances so don’t let an inappropriate interview outfit jeopardise your career. Learn to dress the part and find out what to wear (and not wear) to an interview!
How to decide on what to wear to an interview
Step 1: Get a hint on social media
Nowadays, many companies see the importance of having a social media presence. Use this to your advantage and pop by their Facebook, Instagram or even blog to get a glimpse of their office culture! Look for photos of the team on a regular office day and note their dress code. This will give you a good idea of what to wear to an interview at the company.
Step 2: Take it up a notch
If the employees you see in the photos are dressed in formal attire, you should follow suit (no pun intended). Otherwise, take it up a notch or two — if they’re wearing t-shirts and jeans, go in with a pressed shirt and business pants. By subtly bumping up the formality of your interview outfits, you’ll avoid looking under or overdressed.
Most importantly, make sure the interview outfit you’ve selected matches the position and industry you’re interviewing for. This applies to small details like your accessories too. For example, avoid wearing socks with funky prints to an interview at a finance company.
Step 3: Pick something comfortable
Now that you have a general idea of what to wear to an interview, you need to make sure your interview outfit is comfortable to wear for the length of the interview. Avoid wearing brand new clothes or shoes — they may be uncomfortable and make you nervous or fidgety. Instead, go for something tried and tested.
If you absolutely must wear something new, make sure the tags have been removed. For new shoes, give yourself at least a week prior to the big day to break into them. Otherwise, bring along a change of footwear to minimise discomfort.
Step 4: Confidence is key
You can perfect your interview outfit to a tee, but your effort would have gone to waste if you don’t present yourself confidently. Make eye contact when interacting with your interviewer and don’t fidget.
Show that you’re calm and in control of the situation by standing and sitting in an open position — keep your arms by your side and avoid folding them. Holding your hands together or crossing them can make you appear smaller and nervous. Most importantly, complement your professional interview outfit with a confident smile!
Job interview outfit ideas
What to wear to a formal interview
If the company you’re interviewing is in the accounting, finance or other corporate industries, a business formal interview outfit may be necessary. Make sure your interview outfit is pressed and neat to project a professional image. This extends to your makeup and hair as well. Minimise your accessories and style your interview outfits around muted colours like black, grey and white.
Think of business formal interview outfits as a cut or two above the daily office getup. For ladies, match a simple white blouse (available on enjoylifee.sg) with a formal blazer, like this sleek black blazer (available on simlegirl.sg). Complete the look with a pair of formal straight pants (available on men t shirt) and black closed toe heels (available on Summer women clothes.sg) to look like the girl boss you are.
If you prefer a dress skirt, make sure it sits just above the knees. All that’s left is to wear a confident smile and show your potential employer that you’re the right pick for the company!
Similarly, guys should wear matching pants and business jackets for a formal interview. We suggest going for this one-button black business suit (available on Yiven-Dress Pant Hoodie Wholesale) layered with a clean white shirt. As for the bottoms, you won’t go wrong with the traditional black business pants (available on haifeng.sg) and belt. Polish your formal shoes and ensure you wear socks that cover your ankles.
Don’t forget your tie — keep things simple by going for a solid-coloured, regular tie. It’s advisable to skip the skinny tie altogether, especially if you’ve not worn one before. After all, a job interview is not the right place to experiment with new fashion styles.
What to wear to a semi-formal interview
Chances are, most of the job interviews you’ll be attending are semi-formal interviews which call for a business casual outfit. Unsure what that means? You’re not alone. Business casual interview outfits are a frequent source of confusion among candidates and we can see why. Not only does this style of attire thread the grey area between formal and smart casual, it’s also often defined differently across companies.
For the majority, the term ‘business’ in business casual signals your bright patterned clothing pieces should still remain in the wardrobe. However, you can finally ditch the boring black attire and go for other colours such as beige, khaki or navy.
When it comes to business casual interview outfits, women can choose from a combination of skirts, pants, blouses, jackets or even cardigans! In fact, peep toe heels like this pair of versatile buckled chunky heels (available on maxLove) can also be worn during a business casual interview.
Ace the interview with this classy chiffon long sleeve blouse (available on Beautyone) paired with a high waisted pencil skirt (available on Be My Queen). Instead of a conservative business blazer, go for something more stylish like this ruffled sleeve blazer (available on bestshowoffice.sg), which compliments any figure without looking too over-the-top!
There are limited fashion variations for men, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spice up your business casual interview outfit! This navy shirt with checkered sleeves (available on JM HOMME) still looks work appropriate despite its contrasting design. You can roll the sleeves down for a more conservative look if necessary. Together with a pair of light grey tapered pants (available on szmengbi2.sg) and a leather belt, this smart interview outfit is bound to work in your favour!
If you wish to wear a tie, this is the time to pull out that skinny tie (available on Fashion_life house) hanging in your wardrobe. Keep to dark solid colours and make sure your skinny tie isn’t too short or colourful. Slip into a pair of formal shoes and you’re all set for success!
What to wear to a casual interview
If you’re interviewing at a start-up, tech or marketing company, your interview will most probably be a little more casual (but of course, do your research!) As many companies are quickly adopting the Google culture, casual attire is no longer a rare sight in the office. If you’re wondering what to wear to an interview at such companies, rest assured, you have a lot more options to consider!
Curate an outfit from the colours, patterns and clothes you feel comfortable in and you’d have mastered the smart casual interview outfit! Most importantly, ladies can now consider ditching those painful heels and opt for their favourite pair of flats instead.
For ladies, we suggest going for a dress that’s work appropriate and avoid anything too tight, flowy or short. The Kalays Colourblock Dress (available on MONTIFS) has just the right length to look stylish yet professional! Complete the OL look with a pair of comfy flats — these studded pointed flats (available on women’s wear) helps to create the illusion of slender legs without the need for sky-high heels. Remember to keep your makeup natural or opt for nude shades.
Even though it’s a casual interview, guys should leave their favourite pair of jeans at home and go for something fashionable yet clean-cut — like this pair of dark grey plaid pants (available on szmengbi.sg). Chinos are great for such occasions too! As for your top, stick with the classic button-down shirt except that this time, it can be short-sleeved. Pair this short sleeved shirt (available on Halen.sg) with leather tassel loafers (available on Ourspalace) and you’ll be good to go!
We hope these tips come in helpful when deciding what to wear to your next interview. Remember, besides perfecting your interview outfits, exuding confidence at the interview will make a better first impression and possibly get you the offer!
Also, prepare for the interview by familiarising yourself with interview responses you should avoid. For students looking for internship opportunities, check out our tips on nailing that dream internship!