What to Wear to an Interview

By Alison Doyle, The Balance Careers

Most high school job seekers aren’t interviewing for professional positions. Instead, they’re usually looking for part-time jobs in retail, restaurants, babysitting, or even applying for volunteer positions. Accordingly, a teen’s interview attire doesn’t have to be exceedingly formal. In fact, a teen would look pretty silly in a full-blown business suit.

After submitting your resume, you will—hopefully—get a call back to schedule an interview. But, as is the case with any ​interview, it’s important to look well dressed and put together.

Choose Appropriate Interview Attire

When you’re dressing for a job interview, your clothing should be in good condition, wrinkle-free and, of course, work-place appropriate. Because a teen’s level of maturity is a significant factor for employers looking to hire young people, it’s especially important that teens dress modestly and tastefully.

Button-Down With Dark Slacks or Khakis

While high school job interviews generally don’t require formal clothing, it’s still important for teens to look well-dressed. A  button-down with a tasteful plaid pattern is a good choice for both young men and women, as it’s a look that appears properly put-together, but still relaxed and laid back. Paired with khakis, it’s the perfect choice for a first interview.

Polo Shirt With a Skirt or Slacks

A nice polo shirt is a fine choice for a high school job interview, especially if you’re applying for a summer job or interviewing in warm weather. Because it’s a more casual choice, though, make sure your pants or skirt make up for it. For example, choose khakis, not jeans, or tuck it into a modest-length skirt.

Button-Down With a Sweater and Khakis

A layered button-down, sweater, and khakis are a great option for an interview that might require dressier attire, but not something so formal as a blazer and tie. In fact, this look is a great one to have on hand in the closet, as it’s versatile enough that it’s appropriate for both casual and formal situations. Plus, having a few different sweaters and button-downs to combine in different ways also means you’ll automatically have an effortless selection of multiple interview outfits.

Polo Shirt With Dark Slacks or Khakis

Polo shirts work for boys, too. Even a “preppy” look bodes well for an interview. Remember to round off the look with something a little dressier, like a pair of pressed khakis, for example. And, both young men and women should take care to avoid sneakers or sandals! A pair of penny loafers or brown dress shoes would be a great way to finish off the outfit.

Button-Down With a Cardigan

Young women can opt for a button-down, too. Paired with a bright accessory to liven it up, the outfit is classic but contemporary. In this case, navy blue pants provide the finishing touch, but the ensemble would also work well with khaki pants or a skirt, too.

Dress Shirt and Slacks

A simple dress shirt is a perfect choice for a high school job interview. Paired with khakis, dark slacks, or maybe even tailored darkish jeans, it’s a look that is mature and tasteful, but still comfortable. But, without the addition of a tie, a blazer, or a sweater, it’s important that the shirt be stain-free, ironed and tucked in, so it doesn’t look like a random old button-down grabbed last minute from the back of a closet.

A Tie Can Make a Great Impression

Just because high school job interviews tend to be more casual, you don’t have to rule out a tie! After all, looking a little dressed up never hurt anyone. A solid button-down and conservative striped tie can be a great a choice for a young man looking to make a good impression. You could roll your sleeves to make the outfit feel just a bit more casual, rather than stuffy.

What Not to Wear

Your shoes should be moderate and you should avoid extreme hairstyles or colors. Also, keep makeup and perfume to a minimum. No jeans or shorts, no tank tops, crop tops, or anything especially low cut (shirt or pants) or too short (skirt or blouse)—keeping everything professional is a must.

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