What to Wear for a Nursing Interview: 5 Important Tips

Last Updated on February 27, 2024

Wondering what to wear for a nursing interview? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! The interview is a big part of landing your next assignment, and getting everything right can be a challenge. Because we’re here to help with every aspect of your nursing career, here’s a rundown of what you should know before showing up for your next nursing job interview.

What to Wear for a Nursing Interview?

From how to answer common questions to getting your skills and experience in order, there’s no shortage of advice out there for acing a nursing interview. Those articles don’t often address a key part of the process, though: how you should dress!

The truth is, what to wear for a nursing interview is a challenge that faces nurses in every stage of their careers, from recent graduates to seasoned professionals. For some nurses, the decision of what to wear may be just as stressful as the interview itself. With that in mind, here are some important tips that all nursing professionals should remember when preparing for their next job interview.

An infographic with nurse in brown business suit and black clipboard showing 3 tips for how to dress for a nursing interview

#1: Dress for an Office Setting

There’s a lot to prepare for before your interview. Between getting yourself ready mentally to answer any questions with an upbeat, positive attitude and making sure you’re prepared to present your skills and experience in the best possible light, the choice of what you wear may seem like an afterthought. But make no mistake — what to wear for a nursing interview can have a serious impact on whether or not you land the job.

With that in mind, it’s important to adopt a professional approach. Nursing is a clinical job, where patient care takes priority over appearance. You may want to throw on your best nursing scrubs, but that’s not the case in an interview setting. So, you’ll want to dress as though you’re preparing for an office job.

That usually means wearing slacks or a long skirt, and “a simple but attractive dress shirt,” as Kati Kleber, MSN RN, puts it at her FreshRN® website. You’ll want to make sure everything you wear has been pressed and fits well. Make sure everything matches. And when in doubt, choose comfort over flash — if you feel comfortable, you’ll be better prepared to answer any difficult questions that come your way.

#2: Don’t Overdo It

While it’s important to look professional and leave a great first impression, remember not to overdo it. After all, the purpose of the interview isn’t to show off your sense of fashion — (however amazing it may be!) — but to show that you’re a dependable, reliable professional who can do the job as needed. You’re also showing that you can be trusted to function safely and effectively in any setting.

“The last thing we want to do is pull focus from the fantastic clinical skills that you’re bringing to the table,” writes Kleber. “Your outfit doesn’t need to be the most fashionable, most expensive … it needs to fit, and look neat. You want to be able to look comfortable in your own skin. There is zero need to drop $200 on a suit and then get it altered for this interview.”

#3: Be Modest with Your Hair, Shoes and Accessories

Keeping your appearance modest and professional applies not just to the clothes you wear, but your accessories, hair and shoes, too. Big, distracting items of jewelry or hair accessories aren’t likely to impress your interviewers. In fact, they’re more likely to distract them from what you’re actually saying when they ask you a question. So, keep it simple!

Likewise, you want to keep your hair looking modest and professional, without elaborate clips or accessories. Keep your makeup to a minimum, focusing on professionalism rather than accents or your own personal flair. Avoid bright, loud colors. For footwear, you should focus on low-heeled or flat shoes (for women) and dress shoes with matching socks (for men).

As with the tip #1, the idea here is to impress the interviewers with your professionalism, not your sense of fashion or personal style. Having your own personal style is important! But in the context of an interview, it may not be the best time to put it on display.

#4: Don’t Wear Scrubs or Jeans to Your Nursing Interview

Finally, we want to remind people wondering what to wear in a nursing interview to avoid the temptation to go in wearing scrubs or other gear designed for the clinical setting. Even expensive scrubs aren’t appropriate here. Remember, you’re meeting in an office setting, not on a hospital floor. There’s no need to show off your fancy scrubs. In fact, doing so can indicate a lack of professionalism.

The same goes with jeans. True, it isn’t unheard of for a nurse to wear nice jeans along with a nice shirt to an interview. It may not hurt your chances of landing the job you’re going for (depending on who’s interviewing you). But it also may rub some clinical managers the wrong way, showing that you’re not likely to follow dress codes in other settings.

#5: Pay Attention to Grooming and Hygiene

Finally, you’ll want to remember to come in with a clean, well-groomed appearance. If you need a haircut or a manicure, get one before the interview. Show that you’re focused on cleanliness. Even if the day-to-day life of a nurse can be a messy one, it’s important to give the first impression that you can be trusted to keep as clean and hygienic as possible at all times.

Prepare for your Next Nursing Interview With CareerStaff

At CareerStaff, we know how busy nurses are, and that sometimes focusing on their jobs gets in the way of some basic career best practices. As the nation’s leading provider of nurse jobs, we’re proud to offer a rich library of resources, tips, opportunities and much more!

If you’re in the market for a new assignment, check out our nationwide nurse job search to see what’s available. Or fill out a quick nursing job application now, and a CareerStaff recruiter will reach out to you with available opportunities!  

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