Dress codes – how to make sure you get it right!

Congratulations – your CV has worked brilliantly and you have secured yourself an interview. After so many months of working from home and leggings or tracksuits pants no doubt being a staple of our new ‘office’ attire, you may have lost a handle on interview dress codes.

There are lots of different dress code descriptions out there now. But what do they actually mean? We will look at the most popular below, but first let’s get some basic rules out of the way.

The basics of interview dress codes

Before we start to uncover what each dress codes really means, there’s some general rules you need to follow –

Make sure that your clothes are clean!

Not just that they don’t have any dirt or stains on them, but that they smell clean. If you are a smoker then we suggest waiting until the interview has finished before you smoke in your interview attire. Or maybe you grabbed breakfast on your way to the interview. Make sure that you don’t smell like a fast-food take out!

Get the iron out!

Make sure that whatever you are wearing looks neat and tidy. Turning up in creased clothes won’t do you any favours and could reflect on your personality. Whatever the dress code, you need to make sure that you are presenting the best version of yourself.

Check your shoes

Shoes can say a lot about a person. Make sure yours tell the right story. Turning up in battered trainers or scuffed shoes won’t convince an employer to hire you. And, if you are commuting to the interview, wear comfy shoes to get there in and change them before the interview.

These things may seem basic, but they can make a big difference to the outcome of your interview. Now, let’s move onto interview dress codes.

Interview Dress Codes


What does this mean? Should you turn up in jeans. Does it just mean that you can wear whatever you want? This boundaries of this are rather blurred as it can all depend on what you are interviewing for. Smart-casual usually means taking a slightly more relaxed and comfortable approach. But remember that it still includes the word ‘smart’! If you do wear jeans then make sure you partner this with smart shoes. A blazer or a shirt/blouse. Plain tops are best here for both men and women – don’t think high fashion, just think about getting the job!


This is the one that causes most problems. What is business casual? Our top tip is to think of it this way – it falls in the middle. It’s not as relaxed as smart casual, and not as corporate as business formal. Does that help? It’s probably easier to define this by what not to wear. Here’s the no list – jeans, shorts, short dresses / skirts, trainers, too much skin on display. Think of it making sure that you have a professional appearance whilst being relaxed. For men – stick with a shirt / polo shirt, smart trousers and shoes. For women – below the knee skirt or pants, smart blouse or t-shirt and a blazer. And a final tip – ladies – stay away from open toe shoes.


This is the top of the dress code tree. This is the smartest of the list. Another way to describe this dress code is “fully suited and booted”. This tends to be preferred by larger companies, those in finance and law or for any Manager or Director level jobs. You need to make sure that you are wearing full corporate dress. Imagine you are attending a big and very important meeting with a client. Project the most professional image of yourself!

Finally – a Top Tip for Interview Dress Codes

And, if all else fails and you really are unsure, then take a look at the company website or social media and see if there are images of the teams on there. What are they wearing? This should give you an idea of their interpretation of the company dress code.

We really hope that this simple guide helps. We are always on hand to help any of our candidate decide the most appropriate way to turn up for an interview. If you are looking for work – register with us today and let us guide you through your next interview.