Making a strong first impression at a nursing job interview is critical.

Your skills and experience may make you qualified for the position.

However, your appearance and presentation can often be the deciding factor between you and another candidate.

Does What You Wear for a Nursing Interview Matter?

Yes, what you wear for a nursing interview absolutely matters. It can even be the deciding factor between whether or not you get the job. One of the main reasons is the significant impact it has on first impressions.

Making a Good First Impression For a Nurse Interview Matters

When you first meet someone, you quickly form thoughts and opinions about them based on various visual cues.

These cues include how they dress, talk, walk, and their overall appearance.

Just like anyone else, the nurse manager who interviews you will also form opinions based on your presentation.

Some questions they might ask themselves are:

  • Have you dressed appropriately?
  • Do you look well-groomed?
  • Do you smell?

Your choice of attire can help convey positive traits about yourself, such as:

  • Professionalism
  • Confidence
  • Attention to detail
  • Seriousness about the job

Since first impressions are crucial in job interviews, it’s essential to dress appropriately to leave a positive impact on your potential employer.

Remember, during a nursing interview, your attire will speak volumes about your professionalism, competence, and dedication to the job before you even begin answering questions.

So, make an effort to dress well and create a favorable impression right from the start.

What to Wear to a Nursing Interview?

Clothes

Men

The video above does a pretty good job summarizing this section.

For a nursing interview, men should wear:

  • A dress shirt (ensure it is not wrinkled)
  • Slacks
  • Fitted jacket or blazer
  • Necktie (solid colors or patterned)
Calvin Klein Men’s Suit
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Women

The video above does a pretty good job summarizing this section.

Women should consider wearing the following for a nursing interview:

  • A blouse (not too tight or low cut)
  • A skirt that’s not too short or long
  • Slacks 

For both men and women, it is best to stick to traditional colors like black slacks or skirts with a white shirt.

Men can add a colorful necktie, while women may have slightly more freedom with style and color choices but should opt for muted tones.

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Shoes

Men

Men should wear dark-colored dress shoes or shoes that resemble dress shoes. Socks should be dark-colored, plain, and simple.

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Women

Women should opt for polished and clean pumps or flats. If wearing hose, choose nude-colored ones.

Shoes should be quite presentable – not overly scuffed but not overly shiny either.

What if I Can’t Afford a Professional Interview Attire?

One of the most common complaints I hear when discussing this topic is that people believe they need expensive clothing to look professional.

However, this is not the case.

All you need is something that looks professional, which you can easily find at stores such as Walmart, Target, Macy’s, or Amazon.

For those on a budget, second-hand stores are also a great option.

You can often find high-quality name-brand clothing that has hardly been used for a fraction of the original retail price.

I have included some curated options above, so feel free to browse through them.
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Hair

Men

Hair should be clean, well-kept, and combed, consider visiting a barber a day or two before the interview. Facial hair should also be clean and well-groomed.

Women

Hair should be well-kept, combed, and professional-looking, regardless of the style chosen.

Miscellaneous Accessories

Men

If wearing a watch, choose a simple and classy option. For carrying items like your resume, consider using a portfolio folder or a business padfolio.

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Keep jewelry and piercings to a minimum, and research the company culture to find out if certain looks are not allowed.

Women

Keep jewelry to a minimum and choose pieces that do not distract from your appearance.

If using a purse, choose a tasteful option like this leather handbag tote.

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Leather Handbag Tote
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Remember, the primary goal is to make a good first impression and secure the job.

Can a Nurse Wear Scrubs For An Interview?

When it comes to job interviews for nursing positions, you might wonder if wearing scrubs is appropriate.

While you could wear scrubs, it is generally not recommended.

Here are some reasons why you should opt for professional attire instead:

  • Competition: Even with nursing shortages in some areas, sought-after facilities and departments can be challenging to get into. By dressing professionally, you can stand out from other candidates who choose to wear scrubs.
  • Seriousness: Presenting yourself in professional attire demonstrates a level of seriousness that scrubs may not convey. This can leave a positive impression on your interviewers.
  • Making an Impact: If only a few candidates dress professionally, they are more likely to make a lasting impression on the interviewers. This can give you an advantage over other applicants, especially in a tough hiring process.

One pushback I often receive is from nurses who say, “I’ll be interviewed by a nurse, so they’ll understand.”

However, it’s important to keep in mind that you never know who will be conducting your interview or how many people will be involved.

Some possible interview scenarios include:

  • A panel of your potential nursing colleagues
  • The nurse manager
  • A member of the human resources department
  • Or any combination of these individuals

Non-clinical interviewers, like members of the human resources department, are likely used to being around professionals who dress accordingly.

Even if a nurse manager is interviewing you, keep in mind that they spend a significant portion of their time around people who wear business attire.

Keeping Score

Let’s say that 10 nurses are being interviewed.

If 3 out of the 10 nurses are dressed professionally while the other 7 are dressed like it’s just another day on the job, guess who will stand out positively?

Does it mean that you won’t get the job if you wear scrubs or dress casually?

No.

There are a lot of variables that go into the interviewing and hiring process for the right nurse.

However, if it’s about keeping score, what it does mean is that dressing in business attire could add extra points to your column that you might not have had. In a tough hiring process, one point could be the difference.

While wearing scrubs to a nursing interview doesn’t automatically disqualify you, dressing professionally can certainly provide an advantage.

So rather than choosing scrubs, opt for attire that reflects your professionalism and commitment to the nursing profession, making a positive, lasting impression on your interviewers.

What NOT to Wear to a Nursing Interview?

While preparing for your nursing interview, it’s crucial to avoid certain clothing items and styles that could leave a negative impression. Here’s a quick list of what to steer clear of:

  • Poorly fitting clothes: Avoid outfits that are too tight or too loose.
  • Revealing clothes: Save those for the weekend; opt for more professional attire.
  • Very high-heeled shoes: Stick to comfortable, office-appropriate footwear.
  • Tennis shoes or sneakers: Choose more formal shoes instead.
  • Excessive makeup: Keep your makeup natural and not overdone.
  • Excessive cologne or perfume: A subtle scent is fine, but don’t overpower the interviewers.
  • Dirty clothes: Ensure your outfit is clean and fresh.
  • Wrinkled clothes: Iron your shirts and pants for a polished look.
  • Not being groomed: Maintain good personal hygiene – bathe, comb your hair, and use deodorant.

Now that you’re aware of what not to wear, you can confidently plan your nursing interview attire.

Key Takeaways

Your nursing interview dress code can truly make or break making a stellar first impression.

By presenting yourself in polished, professional attire, you convey respect for yourself and the nursing role.

Follow our tips to dress for success at your nursing job interview. The effort pays off when you get hired!

Have You Read These Articles?

Here are the other articles in our interview series for nurses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some other frequently asked questions about nursing interview attire.

For a nursing interview, women should wear professional attire such as a suit or a blazer and skirt or dress pants. Choose conservative clothing with a neutral color palette like black, navy, or gray. Opt for modest necklines and keep jewelry to a minimum. Closed-toe shoes with a low to medium heel are appropriate footwear.

Avoid clothing that is too flashy, revealing, or casual such as low-cut tops, mini skirts, jeans, leggings, or shorts. Steer clear of outfits with loud patterns, bright colors or excessive embellishments. Additionally, avoid wearing flip-flops or sneakers as they do not convey professionalism.

Although scrubs are the typical attire for nurses working in a hospital or clinical setting, it is best to wear more formal, professional attire for a nursing interview to make a positive first impression.

During a nursing interview, it’s recommended to wear your hair up in a neat and tidy manner, such as a bun or ponytail. 

Select minimal, conservative accessories for a nursing interview. A simple, elegant watch or modest earrings can enhance your outfit without being too distracting. Avoid excessive jewelry, large belts, or flashy accessories that may draw attention away from your qualifications and professionalism.

Stick to neutral colors like black, navy, or gray for your nursing interview attire. These colors convey professionalism and seriousness. You can add a touch of color with accessories or a blouse, but avoid overly bright, flashy, or distracting colors.

For men, appropriate interview attire for a nursing interview includes a suit or a dress shirt and tie paired with dress pants. Choose conservative, neutral colors such as black, navy, or gray. Close-toed dress shoes should be worn, and accessories like a watch and belt should be simple and understated.

No, you should not wear jeans to a nursing job interview. The same reasons you wouldn’t wear scrubs are the reasons why you shouldn’t wear jeans. You want to wear something that makes you look professional, and jeans don’t cut it.

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