The Expat Woman

What to Wear to a Job Interview

So you’ve impressed the company with your credentials and they call you in for an interview. What now? You’ve done your research and prepared your answers. Now all you need is the perfect outfit and you’re good to go. Appearance matters, though obviously not as much as your professional or communications skills. Although it is practically inevitable that you will be judged the moment you walk through the door on what you’re wearing.

Nowadays, the term “business attire” can mean anything from a full corporate outfit to a pair of jeans and a tee. It all depends on what kind of industry you work in and the type of company you’re applying for as well as its culture. With that in mind, here are the four most common types of attire you may have to wear at your next interview, so be prepared before you step in that office.


Business Professional


Business professional can be summarized in three words: “dress to impress.” If the company is a big conglomerate or the position that you’re applying for is fairly senior– then you’ll probably want to go into your interview in corporate attire. This quality maroon pencil skill on MM. LaFleur will have you looking meeting-ready in no time, but also not too boring or stiff. And for traditional industries like banking or law, you can play it safe and wear heels with at least two inches.


Business Casual



This one’s a bit tricky to navigate since it essentially merges “formal” and “casual” together. When it comes to business casual, the fitting is key. This includes a pair of well-tailored jeans, quality slacks, or a plain-colored button-down similar to the white Oxford shirts from Gap. Although the general rule states that as long as it’s not too revealing, sloppy, or wrinkled, it can pass for business casual. Also, you’re allowed to strut into your interview in flats (but not sneakers).


Smart Casual


The best way to describe this type of attire is “casual but elevated.” Which means companies that ask for smart casual are looking for something clean and put-together. A lot of employees in media, retail, or other industries that require a lot of “moving about” appreciate good smart casual attire. For an interview, you’re allowed to come in a clear pair of denim jeans and a flattering top (sleeved, tee, or anything that isn’t too revealing). You can even swap that small purse for this designer backpack on Lyst.




Startups and creative agencies usually allow their employees to dress according to their taste, especially since much of their work is creative. These companies are likely to remember and appreciate applicants with a distinct style more than anything else. If you want to make a lasting first impression, the crinkle dresses on Woman Within have dynamic patterns and bright colors to help you get noticed. You should always ensure that the “casual” angle to your outfit allows your personality to shine through. If you want to tone it down, layer your look with a jacket or blazer.

No matter what type of company you’re applying for, just make sure to look clean, contemporary, and confident. As long as you don’t look too flashy (or messy), then the chance of you landing the job will hopefully increase. Remember that if you’re aiming for success, then you should be ready to dress for success, too.



Nyna is the Founder and CEO of The Expat Woman, a global platform focused on connecting, supporting and empowering women who have moved abroad or plan to relocate. She is also a LinkedIn coach, consultant, trainer and speaker. LinkedIn played a huge role in my professional journey abroad, helping me build a network of powerful expat women and allies.

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