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What to Wear to an Interview if the Employer Is Female

by Nicole Vulcan, studioD

You may be an ace in your field, but your abilities are not the only things that get noticed during a job interview. A 2011 study from Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev found that good-looking men tended to get more interviews than their plain-looking counterparts -- proof that appearance does make a difference in hiring decisions. All that aside though, what you wear to the interview should always err on the professional side, no matter whether the interviewer is male or female.

The Gender Question

When it comes to your interview attire, the person's gender shouldn't make much difference, because careers experts tend to agree that conservative is always better. If you're a female who had the idea that wearing a tight top or a plunging neckline would make a male employer favor you as a job candidate, think again. More than 70 percent of recruiters in a "Cosmopolitan" survey said that dressing in a provocative manner is a "deal-breaker." Whether you are male or female, gay or straight, you should always err on the conservative side -- unless of course, you're interviewing for a job as a pole dancer.


You might make the assumption that a female boss will take more notice of what you're wearing -- and you could be right. However, male bosses can be just as discerning about your attire, so avoid making any assumptions based on gender. Instead, look to other employees to find out what's appropriate for daily wear. Visit the company's website or social media profiles to see what other employees wear on a regular basis. If you can't get any information that way, position yourself in an inconspicuous location outside the employee entrance and take some notes.

Business Attire

Your research will give you a starting point to start assembling your own outfit. If the company culture is professional or focused on "business" attire, dress the same. For women or men, that typically means a business suit with a clean, well-pressed shirt -- without showing cleavage -- and dressy, close-toed shoes. If you opt to wear a skirt suit, make sure the skirt doesn't go above the knee. A female manager may take more notice of this faux pas than her male counterparts, simply because she may have a few skirts of her own that she had to discard for being too short for the workplace.

Business Casual

If the workplace is more casual, still dress up for the interview, though you won't have to wear a suit. Don't confuse "business casual" with "casual," though. Business casual means a pair of pressed dress pants or khakis, a button-down shirt or polo and a suit jacket for men. For women, it can mean a nice blouse, a skirt and heels, or a well-fitting dress with a jacket. As a general rule, aim to dress a step or two above what the other people in the office will be wearing on a normal day. Avoid anything with holes, tears or stains. Keep your jewelry to a minimum and carefully groom your hair and nails so that you arrive with a clean, unobtrusive appearance.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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