Dress Code Red: My Big Interview Is Coming Up! How to Know How to Dress for an Interview or First Impression (French version available)
By Olivia Condlln-Wilby
It can be stressful to figure out what to wear to a job interview, especially if you’ve never attended one before. Dressing professionally can help you leave a good first impression and feel more confident as you enter the workforce. You want to show hiring managers that you’re responsible, mature, and ready to adapt to their work environment. Overly casual outfits and distracting accessories can overshadow your accomplishments; you could be remembered as “the candidate with the ripped jeans” rather than for your skills and qualifications.
As you prepare for your interview, use this article as a guide. Remember, the most important thing is to be confident and comfortable in whatever you wear!
- Research the Dress Code
Different workplaces have different expectations. For example, the cashier at your local grocery store probably dresses more casually than a branch manager at the bank. Before your interview, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the organization’s dress code and prepare to match their preferred style. You may be able to find this information on their website, or you can ask the hiring manager for more information. You can also search for the organization on social media and try to assess the level of formality they expect from employees based on their images and posts.
As a general rule, business casual attire includes slacks, knee-length skirts, tailored jackets, cardigans, and dress shoes. If you wear make-up, consider a natural look for the interview – for example, use a neutral colour palette that day. Avoid jeans, shorts, sundresses, and athletic wear.
- Consider the Little Things
It’s important to pay attention to the details. Your outfit should be neat and professional from head to toe, as you want to look respectable and prepared. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are my clothes clean, ironed, and free of rips or stains?
- Are my shoes polished and free of marks?
- Have I groomed my hair and nails?
- Is my jewelry professional? Have I removed my facial piercings?
- Are my tattoos covered?
You want the employer to focus on you – your ideas, abilities, and talents. Try to avoid potential distractions such as flashy jewelry, bold designs, and bright colours.
- Respect the Setting
Even a casual workplace such as a coffee shop, summer camp, or community centre will expect you to look professional and put-together for the interview. You might be able to get away with a nice pair of jeans, if they’re clean, neutral, and free of rips and tears. But you should still avoid streetwear like hoodies, sandals, athletic shorts, track pants, cropped shirts, or tank tops. When in doubt, assume that business casual is the norm. You should also dress more conservatively for a job interview. Your stomach, shoulders, and back should be covered. Ensure that your clothes fit properly.
Be Comfortable and Confident
While it’s important to dress professionally, it’s equally essential that you feel good in whatever you’re wearing. Prepare your outfit ahead of time and make sure you feel comfortable walking, sitting, and standing in it. Ensure that you can wear your shoes for long periods of time without feeling pain. If you’re unsure about an element of your outfit, ask a friend or family member for their advice. At the end of the day, employers want to know that you can do the work and be successful. Stay calm and don’t be afraid to smile!
Doyle, A. (2021, August 19th). What Not to Wear on a Job Interview for Teens. The Balance Careers. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-not-to-wear-on-an-interview-for-teens-4061802
Indeed Editorial Team. (2021, July 14th). What To Wear to an Interview as a Teenager (With Tips and FAQs). Indeed. https://ca.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/what-to-wear-to-an-interview-teenager
Parent, J. (2022). How to Dress for a Job Interview: 3 Tips for Teens. Your Teen for Parents. https://yourteenmag.com/teenager-school/teens-high-school/what-to-wear-to-an-interview-for-teens