How to Dress For Tech Interviews

Careerist
7 min readJan 12, 2023

The interview is an important step toward future collaboration. In fact, it’s a first impression of you from various perspectives — your background, your expertise, and your personality. Your clothing and appearance paint the first strokes of the bigger picture of who you are as a professional. In this article, we will discuss how to choose the right outfit to increase the chances of a successful interview.

Even though tech companies give most employees freedom in their choice of what to wear to work, there are still limits as to what is considered acceptable attire. On-site and virtual interviews are similar in some ways and different in others, so we are going to discuss how to pick the best attire for both cases.

What to Wear for an On-Site Interview

Make no mistake, an on-site interview can make even the best candidate nervous. When choosing our interview outfit, we often aim to find something that will make us feel confident and comfortable at the same time. But without a universally accepted standard for what to wear, we’ll have to provide guidance step by step. Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.

Shoes

When it comes to footwear, smart casual is best. Avoid bright colors; instead, choose neutral colors that will match the rest of your clothing. Skip wearing open-toed shoes to the interview as well.

What about tennis shoes? While it’s true that some employees may wear them, you shouldn’t unless you are already part of the team. The worst interview footwear choices are always brightly colored sports shoes, sandals, or flip-flops. Don’t make it too casual; your aim is to stay professional.

The best choices for women include low-heeled shoes or flats. However, some classic leather heels might also complete your outfit. The optimal heel height to keep your shoes both stylish and convenient is two inches or less.

Men should pick shoes with a neutral color, such as a pair of leather oxfords. Brush and polish your shoes to ensure they have no dirt or any sort of stains on them. Check out your socks, too, to make sure they match.

The Bottoms

Neutral-color pants or chinos are a great choice. Avoid skinny pants and instead stick to straight-leg varieties. A pair of dark-colored pants would also be a winning choice. Avoid any pieces with sparkling elements or huge lettering, which often make the person look a bit vulgar.

For women, the midi (knee-heigh) or maxi skirt is also an excellent choice. By the way, don’t forget to wear stockings while wearing a skirt.

For men, ensure your clothes aren’t too baggy or have too many side pockets.

If you decide to wear jeans, go with black. Tailored jeans are the best option here because they will match the rest of your clothes.

The Top

Traditionally, the classic white shirt will win over your interviewers because it shows a serious attitude and a strong desire to become a part of the team. Keep your style smart and casual with a long-sleeved top. This doesn’t have to be a shirt, either — a blouse or sweater in any neutral color will work. Make sure your top is neither too long nor low cut. You can also pair it with a jacket or a cardigan.

Don’t try to attract the interviewers’ attention with unusual color combinations or bright elements, short sleeves, or too open of a neckline. Pastel color matchings work best.

Accessories

Of course, you are free to show a little bit of your personality. Still, any accessories you use shouldn’t draw too much attention away from your skills or resume. Keep jewelry small, and it’s always a good idea to cover tattoos for the first interview. (Plain and small visible tattoos are okay.) By the way, we don’t recommend wearing a tie since it’s too official and is a rarity in tech offices today.

Please note that wearing a strong fragrance might create a wrong impression, too, so limit your choice to either a little perfume or more watery notes for everyday use.

The key to success is in simple and concise outfits. Moreover, consider your comfort, and before leaving your home, look in the mirror to make sure you like your look. If you follow this advice, you should feel ready to conquer the world!

What to Wear for an Online Interview

For an online interview, it can be tricky to wear something that fits the context. Remote work gives you a bit more freedom in how you dress. A neat look, however, may still benefit you during the interview; a shabby outfit, on the other hand, might play against you. The camera focuses on the upper part of the body, so a neat and plain background is also a must.

The Top

Any top or jacket should be tailored to your size. For a tech interview, we recommend following a smart, casual style. You want to dress with just enough formality to boost your confidence.

Don’t worry about wearing a tie — that would definitely be a case of overdressing. A plain shirt, blouse, collared polo shirt, or sweater will look “just right.” Avoid any short-sleeved tops or vests with any names or images unless it’s a tiny logo barely noticeable on camera. Consider your background, and make sure not to dress in the same color. Noisy patterns or stripes are also not the best solutions. It’s a good idea to wear something that is in slight contrast to your background to keep the interviewers’ attention focused on you.

Prepare and lay out a fresh set of ironed clothing the night before the interview. Pick something you will feel comfortable wearing; the last thing you want is to be too hot.

The Bottoms

It’s always a good idea to dress in the same style from top to bottom, even in an online interview. Don’t be too lazy to put on a decent pair of pants. Life has unexpected twists, and you never know when you will have to stand up or move something, and you don’t want to turn this moment into a joke at your expense! Moreover, dressing well will benefit your mental state. You will feel more comfortable knowing you are appropriately dressed, and this will likely help you stay calmer.

Makeup

For women, neatly brushed hair is always the right choice. A ponytail can also create an impression of a highly organized person. If you need some makeup, use natural colors without overly accenting your lips or eyes.

Men should be well-groomed with their hair combed to add more neatness to their appearance.

Accessories

Don’t wear jewelry that is too big; keep it as small and simple as possible. Cover any visible tattoos or unusual piercings. The goal of an interview is to make your skills shine, not your accessories!

Three Common Types of Corporate Style

So you contacted someone from the company, and they told you something odd, like they have a “casual” style or perhaps no requirements at all. In this case, the uncertainty and lack of instructions can be confusing.

Smart Casual or Business Casual

The word “business” is key here, as it gives you a bit more freedom to choose whether to wear a suit or not. This style doesn’t welcome jeans or sneakers, though, and keep sports clothes for exercise time — not the office.

Startup Casual

In this case, jeans are okay but choose a solid color with no torn parts or glitter. Again, avoid styles that are too sporty, baggy, or shabby looking. Remember that you aren’t a part of the team yet; thus, you do not have as much freedom with your wardrobe choices as they do.

No Dress Code

Hearing the company doesn’t have an official dress code is a tempting situation that might make you want to dress overly casually. But if you stick to smart casual, you’ll never miss the mark. It will help highlight your interest in the job and show respect to the interviewing panel.

Final hints

  • Ask the hiring manager or recruiter who invited you to the interview about their corporate style. Google it to get some inspiration for your interview outfit.
  • Wear pastel or neutral colors, and avoid wearing a lot of sparkles.
  • Avoid short sleeves — stick to long-sleeved shirts.
  • Don’t wear gym clothes.
  • Use natural, subtle colors for makeup.
  • When preparing for an online interview, don’t forget to put on matching, neutral-colored pants.
  • If you want to wear a skirt, consider midi or maxi length. Make sure your clothes are no shorter than knee length.
  • If you choose a skirt or dress, don’t forget to put on stockings of natural color.

Dress codes vary from company to company, and dress expectations are different everywhere. A formal place of work requires a nicer wardrobe, while less formal environments give more freedom in what you choose to wear. As a candidate, wearing plain clothes creates a better impression than walking in with acid-color sneakers. And as important as it is, the outfit you choose for an online interview isn’t something that will compensate for a lack of knowledge or awkward silence. Don’t forget to prepare well. Careerist offers mentors who will help you prepare for the interview process and give you personal feedback.

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