What to Wear to An Interview – UK Dress Code 2024

By: Joe McDermott | Updated: 13 June, 2024
Go to Blog Home Interview Advice

How to dress for an interview

In our coaching practice one to the top questions we are asked is:

What should I wear to an interview here in the UK?

In a way, dressing for an interview in the UK shouldn’t be any different than in other countries, however let’s face it, there are cultural norms and practices which are in place here in the UK. Generally, we expect to see an element of dressing up for the role and this often means professionally.

In this article we take you through the accepted form of interview dress which will work perfectly for most roles. As you will see, it is simple, dress up and dress as per the culture of the employer.

Get Your Target Job Faster With InterviewGold

Accurate questions, brilliant answers created for you, expert advice and much more. 92% success.

In This Guide:

  • What You Wear to An Interview Can Impact the Outcome
  • What You Wear Creates an Instant First Impression
  • Our Top Tip is to Understand the Company Culture
  • How to Get to Know The Dress Code
  • What Should I Wear for an Interview at the Civil Service UK?
  • What to Wear to An Interview – Dress Code Female
  • What to Wear to Interview – Dress Code for Men
  • Dress Right For Your Interview and Score Top Marks
  • Four Simple Rules For What to Wear to Your Interview
  • Get Your Target Job Faster With InterviewGold

What You Wear to An Interview Can Impact the Outcome

Why Correct Dress For An Interview Is Essential

Applying for a job and then being asked to come in for an interview is a huge step towards your goal of getting hired.

Your interview really is the most important aspect of the job search process. It is the last hurdle.

You would imagine that what you wear should have little bearing on the outcome of the interview. And you are right. However, the way you present yourself can sometimes be part of the scoring. It can be seen as an indicator of your motivation, your interest in the role and your willingness to fit in.

Because of this, knowing what to wear to your interview could mean the difference between being hired and being turned down.

What You Wear Creates an Instant First Impression

What you Wear to interview creates first impression

Here in the UK, we would say, dress to impress, however with some limits.

Choosing the right clothes for an interview shows the interviewer how important the available position is to you. You image when you walk in the door will also go towards making a good first impression.

Dressing too casually is never a good idea as this will give a message that you are neither truly serious about the interview nor that eager about winning the position.

As an potential employee, the way you dress is seen as a reflection upon the company.

As a result, your appearance should be of top priority.

By dressing correctly, the interviewer knows that you can act as a responsible ambassador for the company. They can trust you with their image and reputation.

Our Top Tip is to Understand the Company Culture

Understand the company culture to find out what to wear to interview

The way you dress reflects your professionalism, respect for the company, and understanding of the business culture.

Our top tip to all candidates is to research the company’s dress code before the interview.

If the company is more formal and corporate, opt for a classic and polished outfit. If it has a more relaxed and creative environment, you can choose a slightly more casual yet professional attire.

How to Get to Know The Dress Code

Spend  time researching the dress code for the industry and company you are being interviewed for. Here are our top tips to make it easy. Once you have this information you will then be confident in deciding what to wear to your interview.

1. Find Out About the Company Dress Code: Start by researching the company’s website and social media pages. Many companies provide information about their culture, values, and work environment on their websites. Look for any dress code guidelines or employee photos that can give you clues about the expected attire.

2. Check Employee Reviews: Look for employee reviews or testimonials on websites like Glassdoor. Employees might mention the dress code or the typical attire they wear to work.

3. What do Other Employees Wear: If you know someone who works at the company or has worked there in the past, consider reaching out to them for insights about the dress code. They can provide firsthand information about what is appropriate to wear for the interview.

4. Contact the HR Department: If you’re unsure about the dress code after conducting online research, don’t hesitate to contact the company’s HR department. They will be happy to answer your questions and provide guidance on appropriate attire for the interview.

5. Look for Company Photos: Browse the company’s official website, social media, or promotional materials for photos of employees. This can give you an idea of how employees typically dress for work.

6. Consider the Industry Norms: Take into account the industry in which the company operates. Different industries may have different dress codes. For example, finance or law firms tend to have more formal dress codes compared to tech startups.

By following these steps, you can get a good understanding of the dress code expectations for the interview at a particular company. Remember that dressing appropriately for the interview demonstrates your respect for the company and your interest in the role.

Get Perfect Competency STAR Examples in Minutes

Join InterviewGold today and get instant expert answers in minutes including detailed STAR examples, proven to win jobs.

What Should I Wear for an Interview at the Civil Service UK?

The Civil Service typically follows a formal or business professional dress code.

While there is a much more relaxed attitude to work clothing than in the past, especially with hybrid working, we find that you should step it up when it comes to your interview.

For an interview at the Civil Service in the UK, it’s essential to dress in a professional and conservative manner.

For women, focus on a tailored suit with a blazer and matching skirt or trousers in a dark or neutral color. A collared blouse or a professional top that complements the suit. Closed-toe, low-heeled shoes in a conservative style and color.

For men, a well-tailored suit in a dark or neutral color, such as navy, charcoal gray, or black with a collared dress shirt in a solid color or subtle pattern, preferably white or light blue. Team this with a conservative tie that complements the suit and shirt.

What to Wear to An Interview – Dress Code Female

what to wear to an interview women

There are some key points that women need to follow in regards to their dress when preparing for an interview, but the main rule of thumb is that it is always best to dress conservatively.

A matching two-piece suit is always a good bet.

Of course, trouser suits are great if you worry about having your legs exposed when getting out of your vehicle or while sitting and are very formal as well as fashionable.

Which ever type of suit your select, be sure it is tailored to fit you right; you do not want your pants to be too baggy or too tight.

Always make sure your clothing is pressed and creased properly. For those women who prefer to wear skirts, then it is important to ensure your skirt falls at least to your thighs.

With a skirt, the slits should not be too high either, but perhaps a small one on the side or in the back would be appropriate. Wearing a suit jacket with a neutral colored blouse or knit sweater is appropriate.

Selecting the color for your suit is just as important as selecting your suit. Bold colors should generally be avoided, but colors such as navy, black, dark gray, or brown are always safe. These should all be solid colors, but a subtle weave or plaid is acceptable if it does not stand out too much. The fabric of your suit should be made from high quality blends of wool or wool synthetics blends.

As far as accessories for women, a conservative watch is appropriate as well as simple earrings, rings, and necklaces. The key with jewelry is to always keep it conservative and simple. Makeup should be done lightly and fingernails should be well groomed and polished.

With regards to shoes, style is important, but they need to be in either leather or fabric. Avoid wearing stilettos, platforms, or clogs, but instead try a small heel or a closed-toe pump. Whatever shoe you select it is important that you are able to walk without stumbling as this will make you look unprofessional.

When you select your hosiery be sure to select a plain style without any type of pattern. They need to be in neutral colors and sheer. Make sure they go with your suit.

If you wish to carry a purse, then be sure to select a small and simple bag that matches your shoes. On the other hand, if you select to carry a briefcase, then select one made from leather as this is the best choice.

What to Wear to Interview – Dress Code for Men

A formal business suit in neutral colors of navy or charcoal gray would be ideal. It has been discovered that black tends to look a bit too formal for men and as a result is not so appropriate for a job interview.

It is recommended that your shirt be white or pale blue which is also acceptable on job interviews. However, keep in mind that the jacket of the suit should not cover the tips of the shirt sleeves completely. Half an inch is preferred to be seen of the shirt outside of the jacket.

Men should wear a tie as this is standard attire for any interview, however check the company dress code. An open shirt is now very acceptable in many industries.

With any tie, it should be conservative; novelty ties and fancy pattern ties should never be selected to be worn to a job interview. Selecting ties of dark colors is recommended such as dark red, dark blue, or dark green.

As far as patterns, subtle patterns are appropriate such as small dots or thin stripes, but nothing too bold or extreme. Silk ties are preferred.

When tying your tie any type of knot is acceptable, but the length of your tie should reach the tip of your belt buckle as a general rule.

Using tie clips or a tie bar is appropriate to aid in keeping your tie where it should be. However, here again, stick with something conservative and in a color that is not distracting for the interviewer.

Select a dark colored belt such as black or brown, but it needs to match the same color of the shoes to be worn. Shoes should be formal and polished and socks need to be dark color and long enough so the leg cannot be seen while sitting. For obvious reasons sneakers, sandals or other casual footwear is best avoided.

Knowing how to dress for an interview also includes the correct accessories. Men should always carry a briefcase to an interview for carrying such as a copy of their resume, transcripts, blank paper, certificates, and pens. Never carry a backpack to an interview as this looks unprofessional.

Hair needs to be in a conservative cut, as short hair is always preferred on a job interview. As far as beards and mustaches go for men they should be shaven for interviews or at least neatly groomed. The same goes for fingernails as they should be clean and trimmed neatly.

Dress Right For Your Interview and Score Top Marks

The way you dress for an interview can make all the difference in the world.

Remember, appearances can make or break your chances during an interview, especially in a business environment. If you are unsure as to what to wear for your next interview, then keep in mind that it is more important to dress conservatively and overdress than to dress casually and under dress.

Regardless, you will be judged by the interviewer on the way you are dressed just as you are with your qualifications for the job.

Take the time with your appearance and it will put you a step above the other candidates and could help sway the decision in your favour.

Educating yourself on the type of attire being worn in particular organisations will also aid you in looking more confident and becoming more successful in your interview.

Finally, Four Simple Rules For What to Wear to Your Interview

  • Dress Slightly Up: When in doubt, it’s generally better to dress slightly more formal than you think is necessary. Opt for professional attire, such as a suit or conservative business outfit, to demonstrate respect for the company and the interview process.
  • Dress Appropriately: It is a rule that industries such as Accounting, Banking and Law are much more formal in their dress, whereas the Technology and Advertising sectors for example tend to be more flexible. However, regardless of how other individuals within the office dress, it is always a good rule to dress more formally for the interview unless stated by the company otherwise.
  • Dress for the Job Level: If you’re interviewing for a senior management position, you might dress more formally than if you’re applying for an entry-level role. Consider the job level and responsibilities when choosing your outfit.
  • Pay Attention to Details: Even if the dress code is casual, ensure your clothes are clean, well-fitted, and in good condition. Presenting yourself professionally shows that you take the interview seriously.

Get Your Target Job Faster With InterviewGold

how to dress for an interview

Join InterviewGold and answer any interview question including competency and behavioural with 100% confidence.

With our online interview training program you will learn how to answer the trickiest questions with ease. Plus you will get detailed sample answers all proven to boost your chances of winning the job.

Best of all, it is tailored to your target career. Log in select your role and get accurate questions, expert answers plus tons of top advice.

Get Started With InterviewGold Today and Get Your Target Job

12 months access only £79 • Get Your Job • 92% Success
About the Author |
Joe McDermott is CEO of Anson Reed the UK's leading interview coaching specialists and founder of the successful InterviewGold online interview training system. Since 2006, Joe and his team of top interview coaches have helped thousands of clients win jobs and in this blog they offer their expert advice - all to make sure you get your top post.