Job Search & Interview

First Job Interview Outfit – What to Wear and What to Avoid

Are you a fresh graduate going on your first job interview? You may be a high school student being interviewed for a part-time position. 

Whatever the case, your goal should be to stand out despite the lack of work experience. And though your skills, passion, and confidence are the most important – what you wear also has a big say on whether you land the job or not. 

One research saw 65% of hiring managers say clothing can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates. This is why I’m going to help you pick your first job interview outfit. I’ll show you what’s acceptable to wear and what you should avoid at all costs. So let’s dive in!

Read More: 7 Tips To Impress an Interviewer in 30 Seconds

What to Wear to an Interview for Teenager and Fresh Grad

Amy Heine, an HR Consultant, says this about dressing up for a strong first impression:

“Understanding how to dress can help you demonstrate your professionalism and preparedness in one glance.” 

Also, no matter what the company dress code is – formal or casual – it’s always best to overdress than underdress. Remember, you want to look as professional and experienced as you possibly can. 

NOTE: If you’re a teenager looking for a part-time job, you can wear a more laid-back attire. 

Now, let’s go over what to wear and what to avoid for your first job interview outfit. I’ll be talking about interview attire for both males and females. 

First Job Interview Outfit for Female

Ladies first. As a fresh grad or teen, you’ll want to dress appropriately. So skip the trendy fits for now. 

Here’s an important stat you should know: A shocking 70% of candidates were rejected because they wore overly trendy outfits to a job interview (according to a survey by Snagajob). So how do you dress for an interview?

The best tops to wear are a tailored shirt, blouse, button-down shirt, or sweater (during the colder months). If you want to go for a classic look, stick to neutral colors. But if you want to add some personality, a bold-colored or patterned top will do. 


Instagram @finleyshirts

Of course, if you want to look more professional, you can wear a blazer, coat, or cardigan. Just make sure that it matches your top. Hint: if you wear a bold or patterned blazer, match it with a plain, neutral-colored top, and vice versa. 


Instagram @wearzed

For your bottom, choose either dress pants, dark jeans, flare pants, or a skirt. Note: If you want to wear denim or dark jeans, make sure it’s a more casual interview. Also, a skirt should always be below knee-length. 

Your top is going to be the centerpiece of your job interview attire. So match your bottom with it. If you ask me, I’d say go for neutral colors as that will look good on anything. 


Instagram @cara.delabel

If you’re dressing for a job interview with a business attire dress code, you can pair your bottom and blazer with the same color. This way, it will look like a dress suit. Some others prefer to match their top and bottom and have a different colored blazer. 


Instagram @jhajing

If you’re a dress kind of girl, make sure it goes below your knee or right above the knee. Generally, dresses have a more formal and polished look already, so it’s quite easy to style this one-piece. If it’s a rather casual dress, you can do the universal ‘put-a-blazer-over-it-to-make-it-look-more-professional’. 


Instagram @timelesswithspice

You might think that the shoes you wear to a job interview don’t really matter. However, Kristin Sherry, the Founder of YouMap, begs to differ:

“At some point during my career as a hiring manager I started making observations of candidates’ footwear and, boy, did their shoes tell a story. I’ll never forget a particular pair of velvety, royal blue 5-inch stilettos that I swear were whispering, “We want to come work in your office, and we’re wondering if you hold any of your team meetings at the nightclub.”

If you don’t want your interviewer to think this about you, then the safest bet is to go for simple heels or flats that don’t show your toes. Sneakers are acceptable for a part-time job as a teenager, but that’s it. 

Again, the color of your footwear should compliment your whole outfit. If you go for a neutral color all around, you can add a statement with a bold-colored shoe. If your top or bottom is bold-colored, then your footwear can either match that color or be neutral. 


Instagram @shoeplanet254_

Lastly, let’s talk a bit about accessories and makeup. If you want a more professional look, don’t wear too much makeup. And keep your accessories minimal. Salva Jovells from the made-to-measure clothing company Sumissura says:

“Accessories should be understated. Opt for simple, minimal jewelry that won’t catch the light or jingle during your interview. Remember, the focus should be on you and your qualifications, not your accessories.”

Moreover, try to go for just one piece of jewelry. So if you wear earrings, skip the necklace. If you wear a watch, don’t overcrowd your arms with bracelets and rings. Keep it simple and classy. 


Instagram @eandeproject

Read More: Is It OK to Wear Open Toe Shoes to an Interview? Everything You Need to Know

First Job Interview Outfit for Male

If you’re a guy thinking, “I want to choose the right outfit to wear for an interview so I can dress to impress.” I got you. 

If the job you’re applying for has a business formal dress code, it’s important to look the part. This is why it’s a good idea to wear a suit. You can’t go wrong with that. 

If you don’t have any, go for a dress shirt and dress pants. You can add a blazer and/or tie to make it even more formal. 


Instagram @youngmenofdistinction19

If the dress code is business casual, then you can dress down a bit. For this, a polo shirt or collared shirt is good. A T-shirt might be too casual, though, so avoid wearing that. 

Same with the female outfits, you can go for neutral, bold, or patterned colors and designs. Just make sure that it’s not too trendy or distracting. 


Instagram @ufo_nepal

For your bottom, go for slacks or khaki pants, and pair them with nice dress shoes or dress boots. Sneakers may be acceptable for a casual interview – but it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid them. 

To keep it classy, choose dark-colored slacks or khakis. Beige is good, too. You don’t necessarily have to make your shoes match your pants, but make sure they complement the whole fit. The rule of thumb is if in doubt, go for neutral colors. 


Instagram @gentbelike

What to Avoid When Dressing for a Job Interview

What if you want to choose your own style? Go for it. I mean, what you wear is a reflection of your personality. 

However, when deciding what to wear to your interview, there are some things that you absolutely must avoid. Let’s go over them here…

  • An overly casual look. I’m talking cotton T-shirts with graphics, hoodies, shorts, and sandals or slippers. Remember, you’re not going to the beach. You’re going to a job interview. Yes, this is true even for a teenager looking for a part-time job at, say, a retail store. 
  • An overly athletic look. Leggings, dry-fit shirts, headphones, and jogging shoes are a big NO as well (unless maybe you’re applying for a position in the fitness sector). OK, maybe you could style a plain black legging with a formal top, but never with a plain or sportswear shirt. Again, you’re going to a job interview – not run a marathon. 
  • An overly fashionable look. Get this: It’s fine to incorporate a fashionable piece into your outfit. Just make sure you don’t go overboard with it and that it isn’t a business formal dress code. Christina Stein, a stylist therapist, gives her advice on this: 

“Wear a neutral outfit but incorporate a little something to spruce it up. For example, the biggest color of the season is red, so you can add a red pump and coordinating bag, or just grab a skinny red belt to finish off a neutral look.”

  • Clothes with stains or holes. Even if you dress your best, an interviewer might judge your attention to detail if there is an easy-to-spot stain or hole. So go over your outfit for a job interview carefully. What’s more, don’t wear ripped jeans as it doesn’t look neat and polished. 
  • Clothes that are too revealing. Remember what Kristin Sherry said about thinking one of her candidates was going to a nightclub? That’s why you should avoid low-cut and revealing tops, mini skirts, skirts with big slits, and any of the sort. It’s a must to dress appropriately for the occasion. 
  • Clothes that are wrinkled or dirty. Even if you choose the right clothes to wear, a wrinkled and dirty outfit may give the impression that you’re lazy and unorganized. You don’t want that to be the first impression your interviewer has of you. So before the day, wash your clothes and iron them out. 
  • Clothes that are too distracting. The focus should be on your skills and achievements, not the clothes you wear. So try as much as possible to avoid mismatched pairs, bright colors, and distracting patterns. This includes excessive jewelry and even powerful perfumes. That said, it’s fine to add a hint of color here and there, but only if the dress code is more business casual. If you’re not sure what’s considered too much distraction, go the safe route and avoid it. 
  • Clothes that are uncomfortable. The whole interview process is stressful enough. You don’t want to wear something that will add to that stress. Let’s say your pants’ waist is too tight. Maybe you need to readjust your blazer every time you move. Or maybe your shoes are pinching your toes. This will not only make you more stressed, it may lower your confidence. So always wear pieces that you’re comfortable in. 

Read More: 17 Common Job Interview Questions for Fresh Graduates With Answers

Final Words

Being interviewed for your first job is an exciting time! Don’t waste it. This is why it’s important to know how to choose your first job interview outfit.

Before you get to the interview, carefully plan out your attire with the tips that I provided here. If you want to show off your personality, you can go with your own style – but please know what to avoid, too. This will have a say on whether you get the job or not. Good luck!

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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