What we choose to wear reveals a lot about who we are. Or who we want to be.

Our fashion choices are often a major way in which we define our identity and show off what kind of person we are.

For that reason potential employers will not ignore how you’re dressed when you turn up to a job interview. In fact, what you choose to wear will be of serious interest to them.

What to wear is a commonly overlooked question when it comes to interview preparation, but your attire can play a big role in what impression you will make on a recruiter.

Here is our guide to dressing right for job interviews, from playing it safe to make a lasting sartorial impact.

Meet expectations

Your first thought should be to dress in a typical fashion for someone in the industry, or in the specific job role you are interviewing for.

Interviewers are assessing not just if you are up to the demands of the job, but also that you’re a good fit for the role. You should aim to meet (or exceed) their expectations in everything you do.

Some employers may fit something of an industry standard when it comes to attire, while others may do things differently. A bank may expect quite formal dress from its employees, for example, while a tech startup will prefer its staff to dress more informally.

On the other hand, there may not be just one way to dress at a given company. It may depend entirely on what department you’re looking to join. A creative will probably go for a quite different style to an accountant, while a data scientist will probably dress differently still.

First things first, research how people dress at the company you’re interviewing for.

  • Check out staff profiles on the company website, or find your (potential) future colleagues on LinkedIn
  • Look at images from the company’s website and social channels to get a sense of how people tend to dress in the office and at company events
  • Try to match the style of the people in the team you will be joining, while retaining your own sense of style
  • Don’t stray too far from how the HR representatives and specific hiring manager tend to dress

Tip: the company or departmental style you identify in your research will probably boil down to formal or informal, but for an interview you should never go so far as to dress casual, no matter how your potential future colleagues tend to dress.

Dress well

Your potential employers are most interested to meet interview candidates who really want the job.

One way to signal your enthusiasm and intent is to visibly dress your best.

This doesn’t mean dressing extravagantly, but it does mean wearing clothes that look (and feel) a little bit special.

If your interviewer expects you to dress informally, that doesn’t mean you should just throw on your average, everyday clobber. Dress informally in the nicest way you can.

For formal dress, ensure what you’re wearing is a perfect fit.

It’s often fairly easy to tell if someone’s clothes have been recently bought. You’ll want recruiters to notice that in what you turn up to interview in.

  • Select something from your wardrobe that you think is special
  • If not brand new, choose clothes that have been bought recently
  • Ensure everything is immaculately clean and well ironed

Tip: take pride in what you’re wearing and pick out your outfit the night before the interview

Feel comfortable

While you do want to look professional and well-groomed, you definitely don’t want to feel uncomfortable in your outfit.

In order to do yourself justice in your interview, you’ll need to be fully focused on what you have to offer and confident in representing yourself as a strong candidate.

An uncomfortable pair of shoes or awkwardly formal attire can throw you off your game at the worst possible moment.

Never sacrifice your comfort for the sake of the clothes you think you should be wearing.

  • If you’re wearing a new pair of shoes, get your feet used to them before marching into the interview room
  • Spend some time in your outfit before you find yourself face-to-face with a potential employer
  • Don’t wear anything that doesn’t feel like you

Performance is a big part of interviewing for a job. But so is honesty.

Interviewers want to get to know you, and your personality and character can be what sets you apart from similarly-qualified candidates in a competitive interview process.

Dressing in a way that feels comfortable and natural is important if you want your personal qualities to shine.

Do the basics

Don’t overthink it.

In an ideal world, you want to look your best, appear just as one of your prospective colleagues, and show a bit of your personality in what you wear. Butyou shouldn’t abandon your basic instincts.

If your shoes can be shined, shine them. If not, give them a good clean ahead of time.

Look smart, erring on the side of formality. Crisp, smart shirts will almost always go down well.

Make sure your hair is in place.

Leave in plenty of time so you don’t get ruffled sprinting to catch an all-important train.

And pack an umbrella in case the weather turns.

In short, do what you mother would tell you to do.