What to Wear to a Nursing Interview

February 11, 2021

Planning what to wear for a nursing interview is a crucial yet sometimes challenging aspect of the job search process. While nurses typically wear scrubs in their day-to-day work lives, this is often not the recommended choice of attire for a nursing job interview. In this article, we will explore why it’s important to dress appropriately for a nursing position interview as well as provide tips for looking your best to impress your interviewer.

Why is it important to dress appropriately for a nursing job interview?

A nursing job interview is typically the first time the employer will meet you. You need to make the right first impression. By dressing appropriately, you present a professional and positive impression. This can ultimately help in the overall selection process and could even be the reason you get the position over another candidate.

10 tips for what to wear to a nursing job interview

Preparing your outfit for a nursing interview is an important component to appearing as professional and capable as possible. Consider the following tips as you decide what to wear to your nursing job interview:

1. Follow the company’s dress code

You can get cues on what to wear by looking at other employees from the company or by researching the company’s dress code. You could also call before your interview and inquire about their official work attire policy or ask what is preferred for interview attire. If you are unsure about the company’s dress code, you should wear a business formal outfit, such as a suit.

2. Dress for the position

If you are applying for an entry-level nursing position, wearing a suit and tie for men or dress slacks or skirt and a button-down shirt for women will likely be appropriate. If you are going to an interview for a nursing management position, you should wear a suit. The more advanced the position you are applying for, the more professional you should appear.

Related: How to Dress for a Job Interview

3. Consider the message you are trying to convey

The moment you walk into the room, the interviewers start to form impressions of your character based on your appearance. The more professional you appear, the more professional an employer will likely believe you to be. Consider the message you want to convey in the interview—for example, say you want to appear professional and well put together—and choose an outfit that best represents this.

4. Don’t wear your nurse uniform

Even though a nurse uniform—commonly referred to as scrubs—is what you will likely wear each day if you get the job, this outfit is not typically appropriate for a nursing interview.

5. Accessorize wisely

As a nurse, you will likely not be able to wear flashy or chunky jewelry. Wearing minimal jewelry to your interview can demonstrate to the employer that you understand what will be expected at work. For women, a pair of smaller earrings and a matching necklace is likely appropriate. For men, you can accessorize with a conservative dress watch. Generally, a watch with brown on black straps should be matched with the color of your shoes and belt. Tattoos and facial or body piercings should be removed and/or concealed.

6. Pay attention to the shoes

Your shoes can say a lot to the interviewer. Women can opt for low-heeled shoes or flats that match their outfits. Men can wear black or brown dress shoes with matching socks. Ensure your shoes are properly cleaned and blend with your outfit. If you are going to wear a belt, try to make it match the color of your shoes.

7. Be sure to consider grooming

As a nurse, you will be required to maintain the highest level of standards when it comes to proper hygiene. One way to convey that you take hygiene seriously is through how you present yourself at an interview. Before going to a nursing interview, consider getting a haircut if necessary, trimming your nails and wearing only natural or no nail polish at all. You should also ensure that your clothes are properly ironed. Wrinkle-free outfits are an excellent choice if you expect a long drive to the interview.

8. Style your hair appropriately

Keeping your hair as simple as possible is ideal for a nursing interview. For example, you could wear your hair up in a neat ponytail if you have longer hair, or if you have shorter hair you could wear it down but styled neatly. Avoid wearing fancy or large hair clips or other hair accessories. Men should also style their hair neatly and professionally.

9. Work with what you have

Besides your skills and experience, how you appear in an interview can have a significant effect on its outcome. However, you do not have to spend more than you can afford to look good for your interview. If you are going to attend multiple interviews, you can plan for a few interchangeable outfits and a good pair of shoes. 

An older outfit that fits right will look more professional than a set of tight or loose-fitting clothes even if they are new. It will make you look more confident and may get the interviewer interested in learning more about you.

10. Business professional vs. business casual

Business professional attire is the preferred mode of dressing in industries such as finance, law and government services. It is also typically considered the most appropriate way to dress for interviews. Your interview panel may include members of the non-clinical staff, who may expect you to show up in professional business attire for your interview.

Professional attire includes solid color conservative suits, a matching shirt or blouse and a pair of dark-colored professional shoes. Men should opt for a conservative tie and dark-colored socks, while women should limit their jewelry to the bare minimum.

Business casual attire is a growing trend in the workplace and offers a middle ground between professional and casual attire. If the job listing for your interview suggests that you wear business casual attire to the interview, be sure you understand what this means.

The most commonly-accepted outfits for business casual attire include neatly-pressed khaki or dark pants, button-down shirts and skirts that are at or past the knees. If you are unsure what business casual means to the company that you are applying to, call ahead and ask, or opt for a step up in formality.


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