Informal Interview Attire (With Examples and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

First impressions make a difference, which is certainly true when it comes to the attire you pick for an informal interview. Your attire communicates the kind of person you are to your prospective employer. Understanding the attire to put on when going for an informal interview can help you impress prospective employers. In this article, we explain the meaning of an informal interview, present some factors to consider, provide examples of what to wear and what to avoid wearing, discuss the importance of your interview attire and explore some tips on what to wear to an informal interview.

Examples of informal interview attire

It's important to understand the appropriate informal interview attire before attending a casual meeting with a hiring manager. Here are examples of the appropriate attire for women and men for informal interview settings:

Examples of casual interview attire for women

Here are some examples of casual interview attire for women:

  • Button-down shirts: Pink, blue or white are appropriate colours and fabrics such as silk chiffon are acceptable, too. Make sure your button-down shirt has a modest neckline and covers your chest.

  • Dress and tights: Consider wearing a dress as long as it falls below the knee and doesn't have a low neckline. You can wear a dress with textured tights, but make sure it doesn't draw unnecessary attention to yourself.

  • Black trousers and a pullover: Black dress trousers are a flexible piece that you can wear, with shirts, blouses, pullovers or blazers.

  • Casual blazer or sweater: A coloured blazer, such as maroon or navy, can bring present your sense of style while keeping you warm on a chilly day.

Other examples of women's informal interview attire are:

  • Pants or skirts in khaki, corduroy, twill or cotton, freshly pressed.

  • Sweaters, twinsets, cardigans, polo shirts and knit shirts are all acceptable.

Examples of casual interview attire for men

Here are some examples of casual interview attire for men:

  • Sophisticated sweater and tailored pants: Consider wearing a sophisticated sweater that matches other elements of your outfit. You can wear this with neatly tailored pants and loafers.

  • Slacks and a plaid shirt: You can wear a cool-coloured plaid shirt with fitted slacks in either black, navy or beige colour.

  • T-shirt and jacket ensemble: Consider wearing a plain t-shirt and a jacket ensemble. When wearing a jacket, it's common for people to match the colour of their jacket with their pants.

  • Button-down shirt and khaki pants: You can wear a denim button-down shirt along with khaki pants for a casual interview. Try to go for colours that match your khaki pants to give yourself a semi-professional look.

  • Jeans: Consider wearing light blue or navy jeans with a smart button-down shirt. Avoid ripped jeans or acid-washed jeans that may appear unprofessional.

Related: Interviewing Skills to Ace a Job Interview

What is an informal interview?

Rather than a more structured interview in a conference room, many hiring managers now begin the interview process with a low-key, informal dialogue. Hiring managers or recruiters may, for example, ask candidates out for a cup of coffee. Instead of being referred to as an interview, they may characterise the discussion as an exploratory or informational session. When hiring managers are actively looking for a candidate, informal interviews are very popular. During an informal interview, they may ask you some standard interview questions, for example, “Tell me about yourself” and “What do you know about our company?”.

The overall tone may be more informal, and the interview may feel like a conversation rather than a question-and-answer session. As a general guideline, if a recruiter contacts you for an informal interview, consider accepting their invitations to build a rapport with them. Even if the position isn't a good fit for you, you might be able to connect someone else in your network to it. The following are some advantages of attending an informal interview:

  • It's a low-key technique to hone your interviewing abilities.

  • You can expand your network even if you're not interested in changing jobs.

  • You may find the prospect more appealing than you anticipated.

  • It has the potential to lead to a job offer.

Related: 21 Tips for Interviewers (Plus 5 Interview Techniques)

Factors to consider when determining informal interview attire

When attending an informal interview, it's best to dress for the occasion while still maintaining professionalism. Even if your attire is more casual, it's still important to wear an outfit that looks neat, clean and wrinkle-free and one that's appropriate for the company's office. This way, your appearance may not take attention away from your qualifications. Here are some factors that may influence you when deciding what to wear to an informal interview:

  • Job type: You may dress differently for an interview for the post of a barrister than one of a fashion magazine writer, as each work environment has different norms.

  • Comfort and confidence: Whatever you choose, be sure it's comfortable and gives you a sense of confidence. It's easy to offer well thought out replies when you're sitting comfortably in a well-tailored suit.

  • Minimal accessories: When wearing aftershave, perfume, makeup or jewellery, pick something that is simple enough to fit your outfit.

Related: How to Prepare for an Interview

What to avoid wearing for any interview

When your dress code is business casual, you can dress in a semi-professional manner. Remember that you're trying to make a good first impression, and this requires dressing appropriately. Here are some things to avoid wearing for an interview:

  • casual clothing, such as graphic t-shirts and ripped jeans

  • sandals or flip-flops

  • clothes or shoes that fit poorly

  • flashy clothes or jewellery

  • stained or wrinkled clothing

  • heavy makeup

  • heavy perfume or cologne

Related: How to Succeed in a Virtual Interview

The importance of your job interview attire

There are several great reasons to pay special attention to the attire you wear for a job interview. The first is to make a favourable impression on your interviewer and everyone else you meet at work. Given the importance of first impressions, your look can reveal a great deal about your personality and degree of professionalism.

Another reason to use caution while selecting your attire is the company's culture. Your attire can prove that you're a good fit for the organisation, which means choosing a similar outfit to what current employees wear. Keep in mind that what hat you wear can enhance and complement your professional skills and experience.

Tips on what to wear to an informal interview

To boost your attractiveness for the job, you can present yourself as polished and professional by reviewing the following tips:

Dress as if you work there

Imagine yourself working at the company to design an outfit that fits the setting. This means understanding dress conventions to ensure you blend in with others. For example, for a more informal workplace, men can focus on a more casual suit rather than a three-piece pinstripe. A casual suit or a sweater and skirt combo can create an informal yet business-like attire for women. Avoid open-toed sandals and stick to a low heel with a closed toe. If your prospective employer has a dress code, wear an attire that meets their standards.

If you're unsure about what to wear, contact the person who scheduled the interview or a human resources representative to confirm the dress code policy.

Consider your upper half

When sitting at a table for lunch, your upper half is more apparent than your lower half. Avoid low-cut blouses for women, such as shirts that may get unbuttoned or V-neck tops. Avoid statement jewellery pieces that draw attention away from your face. Instead, wear professional, discrete jewellery such as a pearl necklace or a small charm on a chain. For men, consider wearing a collared shirt that fits snugly around your neck. Make sure your shirt isn't too tight when fully buttoned and pair it with a tie.

Consider personal grooming

Avoid strong cologne or perfume for both men and women. In addition, ladies can avoid wearing heavy makeup or hairstyles that detract from their professional image. For men, consider getting a neat haircut before the interview and trimming your facial hair. Make sure you neatly comb your hair before an interview to appear decent.

Choose quality pieces

Keep in mind that the quality of what you wear is more important than the quantity. A single classic bracelet or ring, for example, may impress your interviewer or employer more than a slew of bangles or rings on every finger. Similarly, a high-quality leather portfolio may look more professional than a flashy, colourful bag. Choose your interview accessories with care. Remember that appearances matter, whether you're dressing for a job interview or going to work. When looking for work or hoping for a promotion, it's always crucial to make a good first impression.

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