How to Dress for A Job Interview 

Four people shown from the shoulder down in business attire

By: Alyssa Herbert  

Yikes, it’s a week before your job interview and you have nothing to wear. Where do you even begin to start looking? How do you know what is professional and what is not? These are all questions that have gone through our heads as we start the job interviewing process. The majority of us are about to enter the “real world.” That is already intimidating enough but landing a job is the scariest part. Now is the time to prepare so when the time comes you’ll feel ready. Marketing jobs can range from a suit to jeans and a sweatshirt. So, what is the right mix to get the job?

Research The Company’s Dress Code

The first step in determining what to wear is to look at the company you are interviewing with and decide the overall feel. Is the company strictly professional? Is there a casual feel to it? By looking at the company’s social media and website you can get an idea on how their employees dress. Most websites offer some insight to how the company presents itself and their dress code(opens in new window).  

Once you have a feel for the company, the fun part comes! Deciding your actual outfit is when you get to be creative! There is a piece of advice that goes, dress slightly better than the job you are trying to get. Dressing slightly more professional than the job you are trying to get is how you’ll impress your potential future employer. Just don’t dress too overboard such as wearing a suit and tie to an Interview at Facebook where the dress code is jeans and a hoodie. 

Dressing slightly more professional will show the employer that you are invested in the job opportunity. It has been proven that within the first seven seconds of meeting(opens in new window), the employer will have a solid impression of who you are.  

Business Casual vs. Business Professional 

Infographic comparing business professional and business casual attire

Women have a little bit more freedom when it comes to professional dress. Since there are a lot of options to pick from, it can make it easier but also more challenging. Men don’t have as many options, but that can also be seen as a good thing.  

Traditional Business Professional Attire for Women 

  • Solid colors or minimal print 

  • Conservative suit with dress pants or skirt that is below the finger tips in length 

  • If wearing a skirt - it’s professional to wear tan or light pantyhose 

  •  Limit jewelry to nothing too flashy and make sure it is consistent in color 

  • Professional shoes such as heels or flats that are more neutral in tone  

  • Neat, professional hairstyles, manicured nails, and light make up  

Traditional Business Professional Attire for Men 

  • Solid color conservative suit, long sleeve shirt tucked in, and conservative tie  

  • Dark socks and professional shoes (some dress boots work but dress shoes are better) 

  • Neat hairstyle, trimmed nails, little or no aftershave  

Business Casual for Women 

  • Khaki, corduroy, twill or cotton pants or skirt (make sure all pants are neatly pressed) 

  • Sweaters, cardigans, knit shirt or a blouse without a blazer 

  • Solid colors are first choice (minimal print is okay too) 

Business Casual for Men 

  • Neatly pressed khaki or cotton pants 

  • Cotton long sleeve button down shirt (has to be pressed)  

  • Knit shirts with a collar 

  • Polo shirts 

  • Knit sweaters 

  • Leather shoes and belt  

  • Tie (optional)  

There is a lot of interpretation when it comes time to the difference between professional dress and business casual. If you are not sure, reach out to someone who works in a professional setting you are interested in. For example, if you are interested in working for Microsoft, reach out to an alumnus of the Marketing Program who currently works there and ask what to wear to an interview and their everyday dress code. Always ask for advice, and make sure to try on the complete outfit a few days before the interview to ensure everything works.  

WWU Career Closet  

WWU Career Closet logo

Traditional business dress can be quite expensive. The college budget does not give room for extra spending. Western offers a great resource called WWU Career Closetopen_in_new(opens in new window). It’s a resource that was created to support students and alumni in their career success. The closet allows students and alumni to acquire FREE professional business attire. This include attire for job or grad school interviews, networking events, career fairs, or any other reason that professional attire is needed. A marketing professor at Western, Dr. Cat Armstrong Souleopen_in_new(opens in new window), talked about the success of the closet “We had a student who was going to withdraw from the case competition because he did not have a suit. We got him set up with the Career Closet, and he ended up on the winning team!” The clothes can be returned but they are encouraged to be kept for future use. If you have any professional attire that no longer works for you, WWU Career Closet is supported through generous donations from faculty, staff, alumni and community members.   

Mistakes to Avoid 

There are a few mistakes that are common among clothing options for interviews. To look your best, here is what you need to avoid:  

  • Clothing that does not fit properly or that is out of date 

  • Appearing in sloppy clothes that aren’t ironed 

  • Open-toed shoes or athletic shoes 

  • Skirts or dresses that are too short (should not be shorter than your fingertips) 

  • Shirts with low necklines or that show your stomach  

  • Perfume or cologne too strongly scented  

Four people dressed in business attire look at a person wearing casual attire.

Zoom Interviews  

Since it happens to be in the middle of a pandemic, interviewing for a job can be a lot different now. There are some extra steps to consider when interviewing through a video call platform. The most important thing is you might not think they can see your entire body, but there is no point in potentially risking it. This means, always wear professional pants. According to multiple studies, research has shown that “dressing for success(opens in new window)” does in fact make a person feel more successful. If you feel more successful, this usually results in better outcomes in areas such as negotiating and tasks that require attention to detail – like those in marketing.  

If you plan on doing an interview through Zoom or any other video call, you should make sure you are dressed the same as if you are doing the interview in person. Always dress to impress. Even after the interview is over and you land your dream role, consider dressing professional as if you were going to the office because people who get dressed vs. people who stay in sweats tend to have more motivation and productivity. 


This is only the beginning of your new potential marketing career, so make it count! Dress to impress and show the employer that you are professional. Dressing appropriately for the job will show the employer that you researched the company and are worthy of the job. Business attire is easily available through WWU Career Closet, so don’t let that be the reason you don’t get your dream job!