Can you wear jeans to an interview?

Debate: Is it okay to wear jeans to a job interview?

Nicole Wray|

Michael Valentino wore jeans to his last job interview.

“You feel more confident if you’re in the right clothes,” he said. Valentino works in the digital media industry, which he says is “particularly casual.”

Valentino wore jeans paired with a nice shirt, blazer and dress shoes. He got the job.

Carly-Anne Fairlie, a recruitment consultant at IQ Partners Inc., advises otherwise.

“You should never wear jeans to an interview,” says Fairlie.

Although industries like advertising, marketing and public relations may have a lenient interview dress code, be sure to dress more formally than the everyday office norm.

“What is interview appropriate really depends on the culture of the company. If you’re going into an ad agency or other creative industry office, most of the time people won’t wear a suit and tie,” she says. “But you have to be careful and always make sure that you are thinking business casual and not out with friends casual.”

Wearing the right interview outfit can boost your confidence and help you make a good impression, so don’t be afraid to ask about the office dress code if you’re unsure. A phone screening or pre-interview email is an appropriate time to ask, according to Fairlie.

10 seconds to sell yourself

Studies say that many interviewers know within the first few seconds if you’re right for the job, which is why your outfit choice isn’t one to make hastily. Not only should your clothes fit your body well, your outfit should fit the company’s culture.

You wouldn’t want to show up to an interview wearing jeans and a T-shirt if the interviewer was wearing a suit and tie. Similarly, you may not want to wear a suit and tie if the interviewer is wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Dressing formally, but in line with a company’s culture, will help your interviewer see how you’ll fit into their team.

The power suit has its place (you better wear it to that interview at the bank), but with hoodies now the fashion choice of tech tycoons and casual everyday a reality for many, office attire is not as stuffy as it once was. Michael Valentino took a risk that paid off, but you should probably leave the Levi’s at home.

But whatever you do – remember to wear pants to the job interview. Of course, research has shown that women fare better at job interviews if they wear a skirt.

What is your go-to interview outfit? Do you dress according to the company’s culture? Tell us in the comments.


Category: Job interviews, Student,
 
  • Richard Derek

    Always wear a suit to an interview. This is so basic. Of course, I do think that office wear is becoming to informal. It should be suits, no exceptions.

    • Unknown

      I disagree Richard, Some people can’t afford suits, not everyone is rich you know! Just my thoughts.

      • Nick Kossovan

        Cannot afford a suit??? Are you for real??? What if you were interviewing 10 years ago when wearing a suit to an interview was mandatory? Just because the workplace has become more casual is not an excuse you cannot afford a suit (how much are you spending on your smartphone, which somehow you can afford… a device that didn’t exist 7 years ago). For the first interview ALWAYS wear a suit. This is Common Sense 101!

        I find it amazing what people will say they cannot afford and yet be able to afford what is not necessary (Yes, I am saying a suit is necessary.). Every man should have at least 2 good suits as part of their wardrobe, for interview and formal occasions. Skip a few overpriced restaurant meals, do without a car (monthly payments, insurance, maintenance, etc.), forego nights out clubbing with so called friends… in other words live within your means and you will be able to afford a suit and thus be ahead of your competition for the job you are after.

      • shauna

        Salvation Army, Value Village….other non profits have great options for those who cannot afford a work wardrobe…consignment shops…lots of choices, just have to change your mind…if you think your not good enough you’re not. Its a state of mind.

        • Kate Shaw

          My nephews, one of whom works as an exterminator and the other is a tech savant, needed good dark suits to wear to my father’s funeral. They found exactly what they needed at the Salvation Army for a very good price. Of course, their mother is a confirmed thrift shop mavenne. That didn’t do any harm.

          • Darcy Hudjik

            If you live in a city that has factory outlets, they are another source of inexpensive men’s suits. Some of my friends get awesome deals there – and they look good, too!

      • Richard Derek

        Having a suit – or at least dress pants, white shirt, tie, and blazer – is not just for the interview. They are good for going out on dates, when at work and you need to meet a client, etc. And you can get theses, and suits, from places like a Thrift Store or Value Village.

  • Victoria

    I think there are industries where jeans are appropriate to wear to an interview (ie, an interview at a jeans store). That being said you still need to look professional and appropriate. There are also industries where jeans would not be appropriate in an interview.

  • K Diddle

    Hi had to watch a poor guy sit in a stiffling meeting room in a suit, while being interviewed for 2 hours by our guys in jeans and hoodies… Felt really bad for him… Jeans and blazer would have worked fine.

  • Adam V

    I believe you should never be ashamed to be over dressed but I do think that comfort is always a must. If you are not comfortable going to an interview, how are you supposed to convince your possible future employer that you are? If you stay within a certain code (ie no t-shirts, tanks, shorts, ripped clothing, etc.) then you should be fine. You should always look into whatever company you are applying for and if its a hoodie and jeans kind of workplace, get yourself a decent pair of jeans and a nice hoodie to present your candidacy. Be comfortable and be confident!

  • a feminist

    This article should be about helping to dress for an interview Check the culture and dress appropriately.

    I can’t believe that in 2014 we are still saying women
    should wear skirts. Your research that you refer to was done in England and did
    not include faces of people or wearing any color but grey, it did not look
    at different occupations.

    Saying women should wear skirts is like saying women should stay home and make babies .That is an opinion and does not apply to all situations.

    The first half of this piece makes sense. Anything after “10 seconds to sell
    yourself” contradicts the first half of the article.

    Do you folks not have editors?

  • TruthSayer42

    How about this? As part of your research of the company where you are applying, take a drive by and watch how the people all ready working there are dressed. You do research the company don’t you? Might be a little more difficult for some companies, but might be worth giving it a try!

    • Michael Scott

      Right! Just don’t spell already as two words on your résumé! ;-)

      • TruthSayer42

        Correct. I come to rely on spell check too much, and it often misses grammatical errors. I do that as I have a 24 inch monitor and still don’t see it all that well! Sucks to get old! :)
        But we all make mistakes, check out the article on “Ten reasons why,,,,”. Go to the section on references, tell me what’s wrong with that section! :)
        Now back on topic,,,,,,

  • shauna

    An ill fitting suit on a man is the same as an ill fitting pant suit on a woman, neither looks professional. Personally, I prefer to wear skirts to an interview, I think it looks more modern and in line with what many HR perceive as professional. Pants on many women, unless impeccably tailored looks sloppy and unsophisticated, mainly overtly masculine. There’s something to be said of putting on a great fitting skirt and blazer, heels and a great lipstick. Confidence sells…just wear what makes you feel the most confident.

  • Bobbie Garnet Bees

    Here’s the real deal boys and girls.
    If you have the skills and the reputation, you’ll get the job. It doesn’t matter what you wear so long as it’s not flip flops and a house coat. If you don’t land the job it’s because someone else had a better skill set and better on the job reputation than you did.
    Me? I’m a guy and I wear skirts and I also have numerous facial piercings. Don’t like that? Well chances are I’m not interested in working for you anyways and I wouldn’t have applied to you in the first place. My ascension up the career ladder has basically been from one employer to the next one rung at a time.
    See, this is what I don’t understand, we claim to be a society that welcomes diversity but society in general seems to actually hate diversity. “Be who you really are” gets bandied around a lot but this actually translates into “Baaaaaa” these days.
    Oh well.

    • Kate Shaw

      I can guarantee you would not get a job at any law firm except the ones that advertise between late-night TV shows. We had a girl come in one day to interview for a receptionist job, wearing Slut Chic that made it quite obvious that her breasts were tattooed. She did not get the job, but the men were talking bout her four hours after she left. She also spoke with what some of us thought was a speech impediment, but a younger employee said that likely she had a tongue stud which she had removed for purposes of the interview. If you really want the job, don’t dress or behave like a delinquent.

      • Bobbie Garnet Bees

        Funny you should bring up the law profession Kate. If you have a chance Kate I invite you to check out my blog in which I detail my battles with the Canadian Armed Forces over their penchant for using the National Defence Act to hide certain embarrassing things which occurred on Canadian military bases.
        I was in Federal Court with all of my piercings in. Nice black dress shoes, knee high knit socks, knee length skirt, dress shirt and tie.
        It’s been 15 weeks and I’m still waiting for Justice Yves de Montigny to render his decision.
        I’m not sure if this link will work, but here you go:
        http://cas-ncr-nter03.cas-satj.gc.ca/IndexingQueries/infp_RE_info_e.php?court_no=T-317-13
        Funny thing was Kate, in the two years previous to my Federal Court hearing I had tried to get the assistance of numerous lawyers in the city of Vancouver to help me with dealing with the Canadian Forces / Minister of National Defence. No takers. You’d think that lawyers would be tripping over themselves to help expose the way in which the Canadian Forces used the National Defence Act to hide male child sexual abuse which occurred on various bases in Canada. Nope, not a single lawyer would get involved.
        Sad to see lawyers on their own deciding who deserves justice and who doesn’t, so I’m not surprised that you are as judgmental as you indicate yourself to be. All I can say is that I hope you never make it to the bench.

    • Almighty_Pen

      I hope your right. I was told not to dress up, no suit allowed to my interview. I only have jeans or dress pants. Was told no to the dress pants. Guess I’ll find out soon.

  • Tami

    I don’t always wear a skirt to an interview but I do wear dress pants. I also don’t wear pantyhose; I’m not comfortable in them. I do, however, wear black tights especially in the winter months because I take public transit and it’s very cold here in the winter. Will this affect if I get a job? I should hope not. I believe skills and experience are more important and not how much leg is showing. If that’s the case, it’s sexist.

  • Almighty_Pen

    It’s funny reading these articles. I was just told to not dress up to my interview. I’m suppose to wear cargo style pants which I do not have. I asked if I could wear dress pants, that I have. Was told no. So I guess I have to wear jeans. This is the first time I am wearing jeans to an interview. Now watch everyone else show up in a suit. lol