What to wear for a job interview, according to experts

Job inter­views can be nerve-rack­ing and time-con­sum­ing, but with the right prepa­ra­tion, you can get through them with­out fear. Whether you’re aim­ing to land a senior-lev­el posi­tion or apply­ing for your role right out of col­lege, there are some essen­tial rules to fol­low when dress­ing up for a job inter­view.

Shop TODAY talked to sev­er­al pro­fes­sion­als to find out the do’s and don’ts of inter­view out­fits. We also asked these work­ers what they cur­rent­ly wear at their work­place, plus a few finds to make your work wardrobe easy to build.

Dress code for inter­views | Out­fits do’s and don’ts | Are acces­sories safe to wear? | Ideas for health­care work­ers | Ideas for sports-relat­ed jobs | Ideas for polit­i­cal-relat­ed jobs | Ideas for tech jobs | Ideas for out­door jobs | Ideas for teach­ers | Meet the experts

Is there a standard dress code for interviews?

This depends on the type of indus­try you’re inter­view­ing for. Accord­ing to Niru­pa­ma Hegde, senior direc­tor of human resources at NBCU­ni­ver­sal, mod­ern inter­views have changed over the last few years, with many cur­rent­ly inter­view­ing in the com­forts of their respec­tive homes.

“You want to be dressed like you are ready to do that job and…ready for the posi­tion,” says Hegde. “Also, you want to be com­fort­able and con­sid­er the out­fit that you would wear on your first day.”

Outfits do’s and don’ts for a job interview

Accord­ing to Hegde, one of the biggest do’s that an inter­vie­wee should keep in mind is pre­sent­ing them­self how they tru­ly are. “Whether you wear your hair down or up, short or long, I want to know who that per­son is and I want that per­son to look ready and pre­pared. Basi­cal­ly, some­one that looks put-togeth­er but that can show off their per­son­al look,” she says.

But show­ing off your self does­n’t mean wear­ing week­end attire or loungewear pieces. Hegde sug­gests avoid­ing out­fits that show pro­fan­i­ty and acces­sories that are too dis­tract­ing to the inter­view­er. “Don’t be con­tro­ver­sial [or wear any­thing] that will dis­tract from your abil­i­ty to talk about your­self and why you’re qual­i­fied for the job,” adds Hegde.

She also sug­gests look­ing “pre­pared and ready and not like you just left the gym. This means dress­ing inten­tion­al­ly for the job you’re inter­view­ing for.”

Are accessories safe to wear during an interview?

Acces­sories, tat­toos and pierc­ings are total­ly fine to wear as long the work­place per­mits them in their dress code. “Tat­toos and pierc­ings show authen­tic­i­ty but in a super con­ser­v­a­tive work­place, these have to be cov­ered. It also depends if the tat­too is provoca­tive and dis­tract­ing,” Hegde.

Hegde also rec­om­mends wear­ing acces­sories that you would use on a dai­ly basis and not being afraid to show your per­son­al style.

Outfit ideas for healthcare interviewees

Sierra Jones | Nurse on a labor and delivery unit

While she could have worn scrubs dur­ing her inter­view with­out it feel­ing abnor­mal, Sier­ra Jones instead opt­ed to wear a but­ton-down shirt and slacks. Though a dress code was men­tioned, she said that some body mod­i­fi­ca­tion aspects such as tat­toos, pierc­ings and hair col­or were left up for inter­pre­ta­tion.

Dress code poli­cies have cer­tain­ly trans­formed from the old no-tol­er­ance rules of con­duct over the years, but ulti­mate­ly it dif­fers from hos­pi­tal to hos­pi­tal. “You can’t have any tat­toos that are ques­tion­able or have cuss words, but I have worn my nose pierc­ing and ear pierc­ings at every hos­pi­tal,” she spec­i­fies. “My tat­toos are some­times vis­i­ble too, which is no big deal because they are not offen­sive.”

“I love fash­ion and my alter ego, if I was­n’t in health­care, would be an inte­ri­or design­er that dressed real­ly cute,” Jones says. “It kind of pains me to put on scrubs every day, but then I just get to be more fash­ion­able with my off-day out­fits.”

Jones notes that she imme­di­ate­ly changes into scrubs upon arriv­ing at work, leav­ing her yearn­ing for prod­ucts that help her express indi­vid­u­al­i­ty, such as a fun badge reel or scrub cap.

What she currently wears at work

Bandage Badge Reel Holder

“Badge reels and scrub caps are a way to express indi­vid­u­al­i­ty while wear­ing a uni­form,” Jones explains. This badge reel is less than $5 on Ama­zon and can add a fun touch to an oth­er­wise monot­o­nous out­fit.

Junk Sinus Rhythm Headband

Keep wispys and fly­aways at bay with a health­care-themed head­band that can be swapped out with a scrub cap when need be.

Figs Catarina One-Pocket Scrub Top

Jones’s go-to scrub brand is Figs, a brand that offers a myr­i­ad of scrubs, from jump­suits to vests, in addi­tion to tra­di­tion­al options. Vibrant and fun col­ors like laven­der, limeade and ‘shock­ing pink’ make it easy to mix and match scrub tops and bot­toms.

“The scrubs did seem expen­sive, but I always looked at it as ‘I will wear these all the time and if I was in the world it would cost way more to dress in that pro­fes­sion,’ ” Jones says.

Figs High Waisted Jogger Scrub Pants

These poly­ester, ray­on and span­dex-blend jog­gers pro­vide a com­fort­able fit for long shifts. Includ­ed are draw­strings at the waist­band, if you a more snug or loose fit, and six pock­ets for car­ry­ing a small snack, pens, a phone or any­thing else you may need to reach for through­out a shift.

New Balance 5740 Unisex

Nurs­es and any­one else who works a job that requires them to be on their feet for hours at a time know that the shoes you wear will either make or break you. This pair from New Bal­ance fea­tures an antimi­cro­bial insole, an inside lin­ing, a water-repel­lent upper, a light­weight mesh under­lay and a grip­py rub­ber out­sole.

“I work 16-hour shifts and do a lot of walk­ing and stand­ing and nev­er have issues with leg or back pain,” said one review­er who wears these shoes.

Outfit ideas for sports interviewees

Han­nah Mor­row | Pro­duc­tion assis­tant at ESPN

For­tu­nate­ly for Han­nah Mor­row, ESPN has a pro­duc­tion assis­tant train­ing process where they are allowed to ask ques­tions regard­ing dress code and oth­er office-relat­ed ques­tions.

Mor­row’s inter­views for her cur­rent role took place over Zoom, where she chose to wear striped sweaters. When it comes to the dress code in her work­place, Mor­row lives by the mot­to “Always bet­ter to be over­dressed than under­dressed!”

“On my first day, I wore jeans, a black turtle­neck and a blaz­er,” she men­tions. “I did­n’t feel over­dressed or under­dressed with this look, so it was per­fect. How­ev­er, some of my friends that start­ed on the day as I wore dress­es or suits, which they usu­al­ly would­n’t wear now.”

What she currently wears at work

Anthropologie Printed Lemon Embroidered Scarf

This spring and sum­mer lemon‑y cot­ton scarf can dress up any sol­id-col­ored out­fit, adding a fun pat­terned acces­so­ry to the mix. “I’ve recent­ly invest­ed in scarves because I love how they are ver­sa­tile and can be styled so many ways,” Mor­row says.

Old Navy Faux-Leather Mules

Mules are a basic go-to for Mor­row, who said that a com­mon work­place look is pair­ing these with a linen set. Avail­able in brown or bone-white faux leather, these mules have an open back, mak­ing them easy to slip on.

Gap Linen Boyfriend Shirt

As men­tioned above, Mor­row con­stant­ly reach­es for linen tops and bot­toms. Avail­able in nine col­ors, this boyfriend shirt is loose and bag­gy, mean­ing it can eas­i­ly be lay­ered with a tank or tee under­neath.

Anthropologie Pearl Flower Earrings

While these aren’t the exact flo­ral ear­rings Mor­row wore to her first inter­view with the sports media plat­form, she admits that “around half of my clos­et is Anthro­polo­gie. I just love the matu­ri­ty, class and vari­ety that they pro­vide.”

These ear­rings, while over­sized in a sense, pair well with oth­er gold jew­el­ry such as a wrist­watch or rings from Pan­do­ra, as Mor­row wears.

Outfit ideas for political interviewees

Anna Olson | Former press intern

As a recent col­lege grad­u­ate, Anna Olson has held mul­ti­ple posi­tions in the polit­i­cal world, includ­ing at the Iowa of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the Office of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Iowa and a press intern at the White House.

While TV shows and movies pro­vide Olson with inspi­ra­tion on what to wear, it was­n’t until she was actu­al­ly liv­ing, breath­ing and work­ing in the nation’s capi­tol that she was able to deci­pher that she should pri­or­i­tize com­fort over fash­ion.

When it came down to it, Olson erred on the side of cau­tion and dressed for the job she , not the job she had, which often con­sist­ed of blaz­ers and match­ing suits.

What she currently wears to work

Caitlyn Minimalist Dainty Initial Necklace

“I was nev­er an acces­so­ry girl until this year,” Olson says. “After work­ing around many young pro­fes­sion­als, I learned that acces­sories could tie an out­fit togeth­er. Dain­ty neck­laces are always safe because who does­n’t like those?”

This dain­ty ini­tial neck­lace is avail­able in three met­als from rose gold, ster­ling sil­ver and 18K gold.

H&M Flared Pants

Olson invest­ed lots of time in find­ing match­ing suit sets that could work togeth­er or she could mix and match with oth­er sta­ple items in her wardrobe. H&M is a brand that Olson grav­i­tates towards because it’s one of the “best stores if you are on a bud­get; some can be pricey, but over­all a good steal.”

H&M Oversized Double-Breasted Jacket

More often than not, Olson liked to go busi­ness in the front and par­ty in the back with her out­fits. Blaz­ers allow Olson to be pro­fes­sion­al and casu­al at the same time, as she would often pair them with a pair of jeans. In addi­tion, Olson also wore blaz­ers with dress­es “if a blaz­er worked with it, as blaz­ers were required to go on the Sen­ate floor.”

Outfit ideas for tech interviewees

Autumn Gruber | Paid social marketing associate at Grubhub

The entire­ty of Autumn Gru­ber’s inter­views were con­duct­ed vir­tu­al­ly, which meant she wore busi­ness on the top and “com­fy” on the bot­tom. “I wore a pur­ple puff sleeve body­suit with sweat­pants,” she adds.

Although the dress code was nev­er for­mal­ly men­tioned, she took a cue from her first day when she showed up in a head-to-toe “cor­po­rate out­fit” while oth­ers were wear­ing hood­ies. “Out­fits in our office vary from leg­gings and hood­ies to maxi dress­es and cow­girl boots to slacks and but­ton-ups,” says Gru­ber.

Since then, Gru­ber has been exper­i­ment­ing with the loose and semi-casu­al dress code, doc­u­ment­ing her work out­fits on Tik­Tok.

What she currently wears to work

Natural Life Sunflower Claw Clips

If Gru­ber had to choose a favorite acces­so­ry, col­or­ful claw clips would make the top of the list. One of her style role mod­els has a wardrobe full of play­ful out­fits and acces­sories that span all col­ors and pat­terns, includ­ing hair clips. Made for thin or short hair, these sun­flower claw clips eas­i­ly add a fun pop of col­or to any out­fit.

Zara Halterneck Bodysuit

Gru­ber describes her style as “busi­ness casu­al with a mix of casu­al,” mak­ing body­suits a ver­sa­tile, easy to wear go-to in her every­day rota­tion.

“They the per­fect mix of fun items while still remain­ing prac­ti­cal for work,” Gru­ber said of the brand Zara. “They’re also bud­get-friend­ly and give more room or swap in new pieces fre­quent­ly.”

Natural Life Berkley Maxi Dress

Maxi dress­es prove to be easy to throw on dur­ing the sum­mer­time, yet can also be paired with a den­im jack­et or cardi­gan for cold­er months, mak­ing it a wardrobe addi­tion that can be pulled out year-round. They’re also com­mon in Grub­hub’s office, Gru­ber says.

Abercrombie and Fitch Sloane Tailored Pant

After their most recent rebrand, Aber­crom­bie and Fitch have been known for their com­fort­able busi­ness casu­al wear. While these tai­lored slacks are an invest­ment, Gru­ber men­tions that she wears them pret­ty reg­u­lar­ly, mak­ing sure you get the most bang for your buck. In the Grub­hub office, Gru­ber admits to dress­ing more casu­al­ly, while at part­ners’ offices, she dress­es more busi­ness casu­al like “slacks with a fun blouse.”

Outfit ideas for outdoor interviewees

Felicia Jimenez | Outdoor environmental science educator

Since her job requires her to be out­doors the major­i­ty of the day, Feli­cia Jimenez opts for cloth­ing that is going to serve a pur­pose like rain jack­ets, trail run­ning shoes and sun hats. Locat­ed in the Marin Head­lands, about 20 min­utes away from San Fran­cis­co, it’s also impor­tant for Jimenez to pur­chase cloth­ing that will pro­tect her skin from the sun.

She describes the parks indus­try as “real­ly casu­al,” espe­cial­ly dur­ing inter­views. She remem­bers wear­ing a T‑shirt and jeans. Dur­ing the inter­view process, a super­vi­sor described the dress code as “rugged but neat,” which Jimenez por­trays through clothes that feel com­fort­able and are durable.

What she currently wears to work

REI Parks Project National Park Tank Top

“For the most part, I have fun and wear clothes that reflect my per­son­al style, but I also make sure that I’m wear­ing clothes that are going to pro­tect me from the ele­ments,” Jimenez sum­ma­rizes. A fun graph­ic tank that express­es love for the out­doors, espe­cial­ly Nation­al Parks, makes for a per­fect lay­er­ing or sum­mer­time choice.

Baggu Soft Sun Hat

Thought Bag­gu was only known for their ver­sa­tile tote bags? Think again. The brand has expand­ed into lunch box­es, appar­el, acces­sories and home goods. Jimenez loves to wear this sun hat to pro­vide pro­tec­tion from harsh rays, espe­cial­ly when she goes to the beach when she’s off the clock.

Brooks Cascadia Trail Running Shoes

Jimenez admit­ted that she recent­ly swapped out her hik­ing boots for trail run­ners, shar­ing that it’s been a “game chang­er!”

These trail run­ning shoes from Brooks includes a tex­tur­ized bot­tom to pro­vide trac­tion on any ter­rain and a “neu­tral” lev­el of sup­port, accord­ing to the brand.

The North Face Antora Rain Hoodie

The North Face is among Jimenez’s favorite brands because “they [all] make real­ly good qual­i­ty gear over a wide price range that’s going to last.” Jimenez puts a large empha­sis on lay­ers, espe­cial­ly when it comes to durable and tru­ly pro­tec­tive rain gear.

This rain hood­ie from The North Face is avail­able in eight dif­fer­ent col­ors and sizes XXS to 3X.

Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Fleece Pullover

Patag­o­nia and REI are also on the list of brands that Jimenez is drawn for find­ing afford­able, reli­able gear and cloth­ing. “What’s con­sid­ered pro­fes­sion­al in the out­door indus­try looks real­ly dif­fer­ent from an office job,” she says. “I guess I try to chan­nel an out­doorsy, cool, and effort­less style (but also keeps me warm).”

Outfit ideas for teacher interviewees

Brenna Kundel | Second grade teacher

As a sec­ond grade teacher, Bren­na Kun­del pri­or­i­tizes com­fort and qual­i­ty over shop­ping for trendy items or ones that aren’t ver­sa­tile. While she cur­rent­ly works in the same dis­trict she was a stu­dent teacher at, that did­n’t mean that expec­ta­tions dur­ing the inter­view process were let down.

Before the inter­view, Kun­del did research on both Google and Tik­Tok, hop­ing to strike a bal­ance between pro­fes­sion­al and live­ly. For the inter­view, Kun­del end­ed up decid­ing on a tra­di­tion­al clas­sic out­fit con­sist­ing of black slacks, a white striped but­ton-down and a pair of flats.

What she currently wears to work

Faux-Pearl Stud Earrings

Sim­plic­i­ty is key when it comes to Kun­del’s acces­so­ry line­up. Kun­del keeps it pret­ty rou­tine by wear­ing a pair of faux-pearl studs each day and it’s got­ten to the point where if she does­n’t, her stu­dents take notice.

Com­pared to dan­g­ly or heavy ear­rings, these won’t catch in her hair or lan­yard when teach­ing and serve as a dis­trac­tion for her or her stu­dents, some­thing that Kun­del is care­ful to keep in mind when shop­ping for acces­sories and items of cloth­ing.

Etsy Personalized Beaded Lanyard

Kun­del opt­ed for a cute lan­yard to play the role of an acces­so­ry because she has to wear one any­way, so why not make it cute? This cus­tomiz­able option from Etsy allows you to insert a short say­ing, phrase or your name to include. Made with a mix­ture of wood­en and col­ored beads, this lan­yard fea­tures a keyring and a clip clasp to hold impor­tant cards or keys that you need handy.

Target Midi A‑Line Slip Skirt

Kun­del’s dress varies depend­ing on the day. There are cer­tain days that require her to dress more busi­ness casu­al, which is where skirts sim­i­lar to this come into play. Tar­get is among the stores that Kun­del enjoys shop­ping at because they’re afford­able and match her per­son­al style.

This silky skirt is avail­able in five col­ors, from orange and hot pink to neu­trals like black and cream. It can also be paired with a graph­ic tee and a den­im jack­et to dress it down, or a sweater dur­ing the cold­er months to dress it up.

Dr. Scholls Giorgie Memory Foam Flats

There are three things that Kun­del keeps an eye out for when shop­ping for cloth­ing to wear to work. “I go for com­fy, in the bud­get and with­in the dress code,” she said. These flats check off all three of those require­ments and pro­vide all-day com­fort thanks to the includ­ed mem­o­ry foam sole.

Aspen + Company Kindness Counts Tee

Once a week, Kun­del’s school par­tic­i­pates in “Kind­ness Wednes­day,” a day where the staff encour­ages the stu­dents to pro­mote kind­ness. Kun­del pairs tees with a pair of jeans, admit­ting that these days are allowed to be a bit more casu­al.

This smi­ley face tee is a great addi­tion to any teacher’s clos­et. Avail­able in three col­ors, it can be dressed up with a cardi­gan as well.

Meet the experts

  • Autumn Gru­ber is a paid social media mar­ket­ing asso­ciate at Grub­hub, a food deliv­ery app. Gru­ber doc­u­ments her life on Tik­Tok, where she posts “out­fit of the day” and “get ready with me videos”, along with rec­om­men­da­tions for those vis­it­ing New York City.
  • Feli­cia Jimenez works as an out­door envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence edu­ca­tor in a city just out­side of San Fran­cis­co. When she’s not doing that, she works as a park ranger for the Nation­al Park Ser­vice.
  • Sier­ra Jones is a nurse on a labor and deliv­ery unit in Ohio.
  • Bren­na Kun­del is a sec­ond grade teacher in the North Scott Com­mu­ni­ty School Dis­trict in Iowa.
  • Han­nah Mor­row is a pro­duc­tion assis­tant at ESPN in Stam­ford, Con­necti­cut.
  • Anna Olson is a recent grad­u­ate of Iowa State Uni­ver­si­ty, and most recent­ly spent a semes­ter as a press intern for Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar.
  • Niru­pa­ma Hegde is a senior direc­tor of human resources with NBC News Group. Before begin­ning her career in HR, Niru spent sev­er­al years as an employ­ment attor­ney, prac­tic­ing as in-house coun­sel at NBCU­ni­ver­sal and as an asso­ciate at two law firms before that.

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