3 Easy Tips to Get Dressed for Your Next Interview

See if you can guess where the following items were spotted: flip-flops, cargo pants, bedazzled t-shirt, shorts. Did you guess the beach? How about the pool? Perhaps out running errands? What if I told you I saw all of these items during a day of interviewing potential candidates for a teaching position?

Surely, I must be lying! Certainly, nobody is wearing shorts to an interview! That is outrageous! But, oh, it happened.

Being visual people, many art teachers understand the importance of appearances, especially when making a first impression. Whenever I am meeting someone important for the first time, like a potential employer, I always want to look my best. Some of you may still be interviewing for new positions yet this summer.  Here are three easy tips to help you get dressed for your next interview.

3 Easy Tips to Get Dressed for Your Next Interview

empty hangers

1. Keep it simple.

Earrings and bracelets and scarves, oh my! Art teachers know how to pile on the accessories. I know, because I do it on a daily basis! The most important thing during an interview, however, is to let your potential employer get to know you, not all the cool stuff in your closet. Choose one artsy piece to make a statement, and leave the rest of your collection at home for the day.

2. Don’t be afraid of color.

Just because you have to keep it simple doesn’t mean that your personality must be totally squashed. No one wants to hire an art teacher that comes in wearing grey head-to-toe. Where’s the creativity in that? I suggest choosing classic shapes in bold colors. My favorite interview shirt is a modern button down in a deep, rich cobalt. Color theory tells us that blue conjures up feelings of trust, intelligence and dependability, a fact that I’m happy to use to my advantage!

3. Wear what makes you comfortable.

The most important thing you can do to set the stage for a successful interview is to be comfortable and confident when entering the room. If teetering on high-heels freaks you out, wear classy, shiny flats. If you hate suit jackets, wear a pretty cardigan. If collared shirts make you cringe, wear a structured, silk top. It’s important that you look professional, but it’s also important that you can sit comfortably for an hour.

Applying these three rules should keep you looking like a creative, confident professional whom everyone will want to hire. Top it all off with a genuine smile, and the job is yours!

Do you have a go-to outfit when you need to make an important first impression?

Male readers? What do you wear to an art ed interview? We’re curious!

Amanda Heyn

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 


  • I remember when I wore panty hose to an interview, and the secretary said it was refreshing to see a “young person” wearing panty hose, because she hadn’t seen many interviewees in them in awhile.  This was interesting to me. Flip Flops? Seriously, what are these people thinking?

    • How funny! I don’t know about the flip flops. Perhaps she thought the beading made them dressy? I don’t think anyone wants to see your toes during an interview. Which brings me to something I didn’t put in the article…One woman actually TOOK HER SHOES OFF for her entire interview! Ahh!

    • I wore a black top and skirt with an orange silk scarf when I interviewed for my current position, but no panty hose, sorry Jessica! I cannot wear stockings in the summer, don’t make me, lol!

       I would suggest that candidates should avoid looking frumpy or dowdy at interviews as well. I’m curvy, but I still wear clothes that fit. I’ve seen interviewees come in in sensible shoes, floor length skirts, and a bulky top. There’s not much there to make you stand out. Especially for the art teacher! I think there is the expectation that the art teacher has a little flair.

  • Nick

    Over in Western NY We were instructed by our professors to never wear anything less than a suit, that goes for both males and females. As a male I wear a suit coat, dress pants, white dress shirt, fun colorful tie (but not too crazy usually rich blues) and dress shoes… Oh and a smile, can’t forget that!!!

    • Thanks for weighing in for the men, Nick! It’s true that you can’t go wrong with a suit. I love that you add a colorful tie! 

  • I saw these offenses at various job fairs I went to: 
    -The professional, tight fitting mini skirt (is still a mini skirt)
    -5 inch platform heels
    -Sundresses (with or without cardigans…its still a cotton dress)
    -Red velvet pant suit (trying to stand out?)
    -Jeans (in any color or wash…still jeans!)

    I think people think that job fairs are less formal than interviews… therefore they can get away with more. I agree, and here are job fair attire ideas:
    -Men: Shirts with ties, no jacket.  If you are really snazzy, a professional vest.
    -Women: Professional dress (that means down the the knees) with cardigan or blazer. 

    You don’t have to wear a suit, but you need to be more dressed up than business causal. 

    • The red velvet pant suit made me laugh out loud! Also, I’d say the phrase “professional mini skirt” is an oxymoron. 

  • cfrobeyinc

    I am generally a calm and easygoing person but always get so anxious prior to any interview. So I am always conscious about everything, even my attire. I usually stay conservative and modest….nice skirt and top. I do like touches of bright color so I will add that with either a scarf or piece of jewelry. First impressions are always lasting! 

    Flip flops…no way! I wear my Target $4 flip flops at home….never to an interview. I don’t even wear flip flops when I teach….unless they are nice sandals. Some school districts don’t allow “flip flop” sandals of any kind, even if they are dressy.

  • Angela

    I am a recent MAT Art Ed grad from Massachusetts and we were instructed on best choices for interviews.  The first major rule was to be yourself.  So, for me, I would never in my lifetime be caught dead in a suit.  It just isn’t in my personality or anything.  Let state that I was hired at the first school I interviewed with, so while I don’t have tons of experience, here is what I wore:
    First interview, I wore a navy pencil skirt that fell to my knee (from Banana Republic), a white cotton tank that was not skin tight and had ruffles adorning the top (so it definitely seemed dresser), and I topped that off with a pea green cardigan that had a white circular outline pattern on it.  I wore black tights and black oxford style heels (only 2″ high).  I was comfortable, but I still looked very polished and professional.  After my call back to come in again and teach a lesson, I wore a black and white shift dress with a bold pattern, but wore a black short sleeve cardigan to cover my shoulders and then wore black tights and black leather flats.  I looked fun, professional, but I was also very comfortable and had no trouble moving around the room.  I can’t remember what I wore for my 3rd interview or when I met with the superintendent because I was too excited!  haha.  But it was some combination of a skirt and cardigan.  I did wear BRIGHT turquoise tights when I met with the superintendent, but the rest of the outfit was more subdued, so I felt fine with the color choice.  Overall, my choices were to be professional and polished but still be myself.  I wasn’t about to go out and get a suit I would never wear again, because it’s not who I am.  If a school wasn’t going to hire me because I wore a bold print dress or turquoise tights (on separate occasions) then it clearly wasn’t going to be the right fit for me.  

    • I’m with you, Angela. I am just not a suit person. It sounds like your outfits were the perfect balance between fun and professional. Thanks for offering some insight for new teachers and congratulations on getting the job! 

      • Angela


  • Laura M

    Suits are the way to go in NY for interviews..

  • Laura M

    On Long Island if you were to show up in the outfit you posted … I don’t think they would let you into the interview..

  • Pingback: How to Ace Your Next Job Interview | The Art of Ed()

  • emily

    Keep it simple. Don’t wear to much accessories. Earrings, watch and a ring would do. It would make you look neat and professional. For ideas on colors to wear visit http://clothesbycolors.com/blog/what-color-to-wear-to-an-interview/

  • Pingback: 5 Ways to Stand Out at Your Next Interview | The Art of Ed()