Can You Overdress for an Interview?

The way you dress for an interview plays an important role in your ability to land a job. Your appearance contributes to the first impression you make to a potential employer. In general, you want to dress professionally in a way that confirms you are a capable, professional employee who fits into the work environment of the company.

Dress Basics

Overdressing for an interview is usually less of a concern than underdressing. You are more likely to turn off a hiring manager by dressing in a way that shows insincerity for the opportunity. It is important to consider the standard dress of a potential workplace, though. You are normally safer dressing professionally than making a bad assumption and dressing casually. If you find out a company has a standard uniform dress, though, you might wear that as opposed to a suit.

The One-up Rule

One common rule for interview dress is to wear attire that is one level above the normal dress of the organization. This helps you maintain a professional image without creating too much distance between you and the other employees in the company. For instance, you likely would not wear a suit to an interview for a labor job or to work on a farm; if you do, the hiring manager may not feel comfortable with you as a colleague.


One area in which some interviewees go overboard is dress accessories. Your look should be professional, but conservative. Your dress should support you, not distract from you and your message in the interview. Visible tattoos, bright or distracting shirts and ties and excessive jewelry are among the mistakes people make. If an interviewer is distracted by your dangling earrings or shiny bling, she may not listen effectively to your responses to interview questions.

The Suit Rule

One common belief among hiring managers is that you cannot overdress for an interview, because a suit is always acceptable. The University of Virginia Tech Career Services office encourages graduates to wear a suit even for a casual dress environment. This shows that you take the job seriously. If you are uncertain about what to wear to an interview, a conservative, professional approach is best.