What to Wear to an Office or Administrative Interview

An applicant is well dressed in business casual for an interview
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There's a lot to keep in mind when preparing for an interview for an administrative office position. One detail you want to pay close attention to is your attire

What you wear may affect your chances of being hired, as well as your potential for advancement within the company. A pulled-together outfit helps demonstrate your professionalism. Plus, interviewers may be interested in how you present yourself, since administrators can have a highly visible role. It's a good idea during your research about the company to try to find out their dress code. 

You can ask the person who schedules the interview about appropriate attire. 

How to Dress for an Administrative Interview

If it is strictly business attire, you need to dress in your most conservative suit, with accessories to match. If the dress code is business casual, less formal options are acceptable. No matter how casual the office, it's never appropriate to wear denim to an interview. 

Here's more information on what to wear, depending on the office's dress code. 

When to Wear Business Attire

If the company's dress code is business, then you should wear a suit to your interview. Choose one that is black, gray, or navy. 

What to Wear for Men

Men should wear a white or pastel shirt, conservative tie, dark socks, and dress shoes.

What to Wear for Women

Women can choose to wear a skirt or pantsuit—for both options, accompany the suit with a blouse, hosiery, and closed-toe shoes with a conservative heel. Women should avoid low-cut shirts (no cleavage, please) or short skirts. 

Gender-neutral clothing is always appropriate, both during a job interview, and once you land the job. 

You may want to be sure that piercings and tattoos are covered, except for minimal conservative earrings in the ears of women. When it comes to accessories, less is typically more during a job interview.

Jewelry and hairstyles should be classic, and men and women should both carry a briefcase with a resume, pad, working pen, and breath mints. Leave the cologne and perfume off, and let clean and freshly laundered be your signature scent instead.

When to Wear Business Casual Attire

If your research reveals that company employees dress in business casual, you'll have more freedom and options for your interview outfit. 

What to Wear for Men

Men, for example, can choose to wear a pair of dress slacks with a coordinating blazer in a conservative color. Shirt and tie should remain conservative. Stick to a pastel shirt and appropriate tie. Dark socks and polished dress shoes are a must.

What to Wear for Women

Women have the option of wearing a pair of dress slacks or a skirt with a coordinating blazer. Pair these choices with either a blouse or sweater. Hosiery and polished closed-toe shoes are still essential.

As with business attire, gender-neutral clothes are an appropriate option.

Always minimize tattoos and piercings in a business environment. Keep hairstyles and makeup conservative as well. Bring your briefcase to house your resume, pad of paper, working pen, and breath mints.

Apparel After You Get the Job

It's a good idea to think about what you're going to wear to work before you get a job offer. That way, you won't have to scramble at the last minute to get work clothes ready.

Many professional offices have specific and conservative dress codes. When you are hired, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with them.

That way, you won't learn that the dress code prohibits open-toed shoes during an uncomfortable conversation with your manager. 

It is also helpful to observe what your colleagues and supervisors wear on a daily basis. That's particularly true if you happen to work at a company with no dress code in place—even if there aren't written guidelines, some attire is still too casual and won't be appropriate for work. 

Stick to the Dress Code

For the first few months, it is advisable to stick strictly to the dress code as written, even if you notice that your colleagues take some liberties. You don't want your choices in the dress to make you stand out in a negative way, especially when you are still establishing yourself within the office environment.

Most administrative offices expect business attire, but that doesn't necessarily mean a black, navy, or gray suit every day.

Options for Men

Men may have the choice of a suit in any conservative color, or dress slacks and a coordinating blazer as well. Always wear a shirt and tie, which again, may be slightly more fashion-forward as you observe what your colleagues and management wear. Always wear dark socks, and make sure your shoes are polished.

Options for Women

Women may have the choice of a skirt, pants, or dress suit, or coordinating dress slacks, skirt, or dress, with a blazer. A blouse, sweater, or twinset can be appropriate. Hosiery and polished closed-toe shoes are nearly always a requirement in office settings.

Tattoos should always be covered, and piercings minimized. Jewelry, makeup, hairstyles, and accessories such as handbags and scarves, should be conservative but can reflect individual style. 

Your employee handbook and your supervisor can provide answers to any specific questions you may have. Check before you start work, so you are sure that you are dressed appropriately for your first day on the job.

Key Takeaways

KNOW THE DRESS CODE BEFORE YOUR INTERVIEW: Looking at the company website may give you a sense of how people dress on the job, but you can also ask your interviewer. 

WEAR CLOTHING THAT'S CLEAN AND PROFESSIONAL: No matter what you wear, make sure it looks new or well-tended. That means no wrinkles or holes. Skip gym clothes, denim, or club gear.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR GROOMING, TOO: Keep your hair neat and any accessories or makeup understated.