What to Wear to a Nursing Interview: [Tips for a Professional Appearance]

what to wear to a nursing interview

A nursing interview is a vital step in the journey towards landing a job in the healthcare industry. As with any professional interview, dressing appropriately is essential, as it showcases one’s professionalism and competence. In the competitive world of nursing, creating an impeccable first impression can make the difference between success and failure.

When selecting attire for a nursing interview, it’s essential to strike a balance between style and professionalism. The choice of clothing should not only adhere to general norms of professionalism, but also reflect the specific nuances of the nursing profession. This includes maintaining cleanliness, comfort, and ease of movement during the interview. By dressing to impress, candidates demonstrate their seriousness and commitment to the role, increasing their chances of success.

Key Takeaways

  • Dressing appropriately for a nursing interview reflects professionalism and competence
  • Striking a balance between style and professionalism is essential for making a great first impression
  • Paying attention to cleanliness, comfort, and ease of movement demonstrates commitment to the nursing profession

Dressing for Success


When preparing for a nursing interview, one must prioritize professionalism in their attire. Choosing an outfit that communicates a serious and dependable work ethic is crucial in making the right impression. For both male and female nurses, business or business casual attire is recommended. Wearing a conservative suit or dress pants and a blazer, paired with a collared shirt or blouse, will convey a polished and competent image. Avoid wearing casual clothes such as jeans, T-shirts, or sneakers as they can appear unprofessional.

First Impressions

First impressions are formed quickly, often within the first few moments of meeting someone. In an interview for a nursing job, it is essential that the attire chosen reflects a commitment to the profession and an understanding of the importance of a nurse’s role. Opt for neutral colors like black, gray, or navy, which convey a sense of authority and competence. Proper grooming, such as well-maintained hair, minimal makeup, and clean fingernails, also contributes to a strong first impression.


The way one dresses for an interview can have a significant impact on their confidence. Dressing professionally and comfortably for a nursing interview will allow the candidate to focus on showcasing their skills and qualifications, rather than worry about their appearance. Wearing well-fitting clothes in which one feels comfortable can prevent fidgeting or discomfort during the interview. Additionally, wearing comfortable and professional shoes suitable for the nursing environment, such as closed-toe flats or low heels, will ensure that the candidate feels confident and capable.

By prioritizing professionalism, first impressions, and confidence, nurses can approach their interviews wearing attire that not only reflects their competence, but also sets the stage for a successful job opportunity.

Appropriate Attire

Business Formal

When attending a nursing interview, it is important to dress professionally. A business formal outfit typically includes a suit, dress shirt, and tie for men. For women, a suit with a skirt or slacks, paired with a button-down shirt and a blazer, is ideal. Both men and women should opt for dress shoes to complete the look. Wearing business formal attire not only shows respect for the interviewers but also demonstrates your dedication to the nursing profession.

Business Casual

In some cases, a business casual attire may be more appropriate for a nursing interview. This can be a good balance between professionalism and comfort. Men can wear a button-down shirt with slacks, while women can opt for a blouse paired with a skirt or dress pants. It’s essential to consider the interview jewelry tips when accessorizing for a business casual outfit, as it should still convey professionalism.

Nurse Uniform

Woman in nurse uniform

Though not as common, some nursing interviews may require you to wear a nurse uniform or scrubs. If this is the case, make sure your uniform is clean and wrinkle-free. Wearing scrubs to an interview might indicate that you are prepared to demonstrate your nursing skills if necessary. Remember to choose neutral, solid colors for your scrubs, as this reflects a more professional appearance.

In summary, it’s important to consider the dress code and expectations of the specific nursing interview you are attending. Dressing appropriately is crucial in presenting yourself as a dedicated and professional candidate for the nursing position.

Important Grooming Tips


Maintaining proper hygiene is vital when attending a nursing interview. Interviewers will pay attention to your cleanliness, as nursing is a profession that requires adherence to strict hygiene practices. Make sure to:

  • Shower before the interview
  • Practice good dental hygiene (brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash)
  • Use a gentle, non-abrasive antiperspirant and avoid strong fragrances

Haircuts and Hairstyles

Selecting a professional and practical haircut is important for making a positive impression. Interview hairstyles should be neat, conservative, and reflect your commitment to professionalism. Keep your hair clean, well-groomed, and avoid using excessive styling products. For long hair, consider a simple updo or a tidy ponytail, while short hair should be neatly trimmed and combed.

Appropriate Makeup

Applying light makeup can enhance your appearance and demonstrate your attention to detail. Opt for a natural makeup look by choosing neutral shades and avoiding bright, bold colors. Foundation, minimal eye makeup, and a subtly tinted lip balm can strike the right balance. Overdoing your makeup can be distracting and detract from your professionalism.

What Not to Wear

Inappropriate Clothing Choices

When preparing for a nursing interview, it is important to avoid wearing certain types of clothing. For example, jeans are generally not considered professional attire, so opt for dress pants or a skirt instead. Similarly, shorts should be avoided as they are too casual for an interview setting.

Revealing clothes, such as low-cut tops or short skirts, are also inappropriate for a nursing interview. Instead, choose conservative clothing that covers shoulders, cleavage, and thighs. This will help you present a professional image to your interviewer.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

In addition to making inappropriate clothing choices, there are several other common mistakes you should avoid when dressing for a nursing interview. One such mistake is wearing excessive makeup, which can be distracting and create an unprofessional appearance. Stick to a neutral, minimal makeup look that enhances your natural features.

Dirty or wrinkled clothes should also be avoided at all costs. To make the best impression, ensure your interview outfit is clean and ironed, and free of any stains or odors. It’s also important to select an outfit in a color that is not too bold, bright, or overwhelming. Neutral and subdued colors are a safer choice for interview attire.

Remember, the goal is to present a confident, knowledgeable, and professional image during your nursing interview. By avoiding these common clothing mistakes and inappropriate attire, you are more likely to make a positive impression on your interviewer and increase your chances of being hired.

Selecting the Right Footwear

Professional Shoes

When dressing for a nursing interview, shoes play a critical role in completing your professional attire. It’s important to choose shoes that convey professionalism and practicality, such as loafers or flats. The Can I Wear Flats to a Job Interview? guide discusses the pros and cons of wearing flats, making it a valuable resource for interview footwear choices.

Comfort and Style

Although professionalism is crucial, remember that comfort should not be overlooked. Nurses spend long hours on their feet, and employers may view your shoe choice as an indicator of your understanding of the job demands. Opting for comfortable, supportive shoes like loafers or cushioned flats can demonstrate your practical side while staying stylish.

To find the right balance between comfort and style, consider the following:

  • Fit: Ensure your shoes fit properly and provide enough support for your feet.
  • Material: Choose high-quality materials that are both durable and comfortable.
  • Color: Select a neutral color that complements your outfit and maintains a professional appearance.

By taking these aspects into account while selecting your footwear for a nursing interview, you will project a confident, knowledgeable, and clear image to potential employers.

Preparing for the Interview

Skills and Experience

When preparing for a nursing job interview, it’s essential to emphasize your skills and experience. Take the time to review your nursing resume and consider the areas where you excel. Are you an experienced cardiac nurse, or do you have expertise in wound care? Be prepared to discuss your nursing strengths and how they relate to the specific job you’re applying for. It’s also important to include any certifications or continuing education you have earned, as this demonstrates your commitment to professional growth.

Nursing Interview Questions

During the interview, you may be asked common nursing interview questions, such as:

  • What made you choose nursing as a career?
  • How do you handle a challenging patient or family situation?
  • Can you describe a time when you provided excellent patient care?

Be prepared to provide clear, concise, and specific examples from your nursing experience that demonstrate your skills and abilities. Practice answering these questions by reflecting on your past experiences and explaining how you would handle similar situations in the future.

Panel Interview Strategies

Facing a panel interview can be intimidating, but with the right strategies, you can succeed. Begin by addressing the nurse manager and any other panel members, thanking them for the opportunity to speak with them about the nursing position. When answering questions, try to make eye contact with each person on the panel to demonstrate your confidence and assertiveness.

During the panel interview, you might encounter questions about your clinical experience, communication skills, or how you handle conflict. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses and showcase your problem-solving abilities. For example, describe a specific situation you encountered, the task you faced, the action you took, and the result of that action.

By following these suggestions, you’ll have the tools you need to present yourself as a knowledgeable and confident candidate, increasing your chances of landing your ideal nursing job.


In conclusion, it is essential for nursing candidates to dress professionally and appropriately for an interview. This demonstrates their commitment to the profession and understanding of the workplace culture. Wearing well-fitted, professional attire conveys a sense of confidence and competence, which can enhance the interviewer’s perception of the candidate’s suitability for the position.

When selecting an outfit for a nursing interview, candidates should opt for conservative colors such as black, navy, or gray. A blazer and dress pants combo or a modest dress are suitable choices for women, while men should consider wearing a suit or dress pants with a button-down shirt and tie. Comfortable, closed-toed shoes are a must for both genders, as well as minimal accessories and subtle makeup.

Lastly, proper grooming and personal hygiene are equally critical, ensuring that the candidate appears well-kept and presentable. By adhering to these guidelines, nursing applicants can significantly improve their chances of making a positive first impression and securing the desired job offer.

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