What to Wear to Your Nursing Interview

What to wear to an interview should be given thought, and planned well ahead of time. Like it or not, people judge you by the clothes you wear and first appearances make lasting impressions.


  • Career Columnist / Author
    Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development. Has 30 years experience.

Plan ahead

You should be memorable, but your clothes should be nicely forgettable. Your clothes should not be distracting in any way.

Distracting clothes include those that do not fit well. A poorly fitting item of clothing leaves the wrong impression. Check for potential wardrobe malfunctions and test for wearability. Especially check for gaps in button-down blouses and short skirts that ride up when seated. Put your outfit on, test walk, sit, and stand in front of a mirror.

Clothes should be clean and well-pressed. Examine your clothing in good light for stains, and have your outfit dry-cleaned to look polished. 

Level of formality

On the west coast, a tie may be too formal for a man in a nursing interview, but an open-necked dress shirt, business sports jacket, and dress pants with a crease project a professional image.

Adding a jacket or structured sweater to a simple two-piece outfit takes it up a level for women. Three pieces say put-together, sophisticated, and coordinated.

As a rule, bright colors are less formal than dark colors, but a bright color can make a nice accent. Accent colors can be used in a scarf or a sleeveless tank layered under a tailored dark jacket.


Simple and classic are better than trendy. Simple says you know how to present yourself without trying too hard. Classic pieces never go out of style. A well-cut skirt and jacket are timeless.

Avoid anything that says evening wear, such as dangling earrings or low-cut tops. Do not wear luxury items, such as a Louis Vitton handbag. Luxury items accord you higher social status but less warmth. Nursing is a profession that values empathy, kindness, and trustworthiness.

Hair and makeup

If possible, get your hair professionally blown out on the day of the interview. Your confidence level will shoot up.

Don't forget your nails. Your nails should be neat and clean with natural or no polish. Go for a polished, lightly made-up face. 

The healthcare industry is conservative. Cover any visible tattoos. They may be permitted in the workplace, but err on the safe side and cover them during an interview.

 No Scrubs

Your job interview is highly important. There's no acceptable reason for wearing scrubs to a professional interview. Dressing for important events, such as weddings, church, and funerals, is respectful. 

Do not listen to nurses who scoff, "I wore scrubs, and I got the job," in defense of wearing scrubs to an interview. They got the job despite wearing scrubs.

What if you are working on the day of your interview? Bring a change of clothing if you must interview on a day you are working, but better yet, schedule your interview for a day you are off. 

Pro Tip

Here's a tip that contradicts the first tip. Wear one unique item. It could be a special pin or brooch (in and of itself, a clip is unusual). 

Why? At the end of a long panel interview day, the interviewers review their notes and compare the candidates. It can be hard to recall each person.

But if someone says, "the girl with the hummingbird pin, you know, Jena," everyone's memory is refreshed. Not only is the pin remembered, but what Jena said is retrieved from memory.

One last tip- read my book below for tons of practical, effective Job Search tips.

Here's one: did you know that if you attach a business card of yourself with your picture to your portfolio (never as part of your resume), the hiring manager will remember you more than the other applicants?

Career Columnist / Author

Hi! Nice to meet you! I especially love helping new nurses. I am currently a nurse writer with a background in Staff Development, Telemetry and ICU.

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