The Do’s and Don’ts of Dressing for a Restaurant Job Interview

DO Think of the interview as a trial shift.

  • Think of the interview as a trial shift. While it’s standard to wear a suit or something similarly formal to most other types of interviews, you should consider dressing like you would for an average day at work during your restaurant job interview. If there isn’t a dress code for your position (likely, since many places have uniforms), just make sure to show up wearing what would be appropriate for working in the kitchen or dining room and that is comfortable enough to move around in. When your interviewer asks if you have experience at their restaurant, don’t hesitate to say yes! You can do so by showing that you know how they want their employees to look through your outfit.

DON’T Wear something you would wear to a party.

A lot of people tend to wear their party clothes to job interviews. But what would you think if your interviewer showed up in a pair of Jordans and a hoodie? Or, worse yet, the boss wore something they were comfortable in while they interviewed you? That’s not how restaurants work.

When you go into an interview, the proper attire is: (1) something that makes you look professional but doesn’t rip or tear easily (don’t wear too many buttons as these can be a problem); (2) appropriate for where you’re interviewing; and (3) something that’s appropriate for being around food.

If you want to hire someone new at your restaurant, and he or she wants the job badly enough, he or she will likely be willing to make an exception for some part of this dress code. If not, then the chances are good that this person doesn’t have the experience to make anything fit any better than it does now, so just stick with what works best for all parties involved

DO Present yourself as professional, but approachable.

You’re seeking a job at a restaurant, meaning that you will be in close contact with people each day. You must present yourself as someone who is professional and capable, but also approachable, friendly and kind.

Approachability can be demonstrated not only through your words (ask follow up questions to interviewer answers), but also through your smile, body language and eye contact (lean forward slightly when listening). First impressions matter! They are crucial from both sides of the table: you want to impress the interviewer so they extend an offer, and you want to feel out the work environment to see if you want to accept it.

DON’T Wear something with your name on it.

DON’T wear a shirt with your name on it.

These shirts are so popular that they’re not even restricted to the workplace anymore, but most of us can’t wear them to an interview. They just aren’t very professional, even if they happen to belong to the same brand as the restaurant you’re applying for (in which case you should probably still avoid it). If a restaurant offers branded apparel as part of its uniform, you’ll get one as soon as you’re hired, so don’t worry about going without.

This rule also applies to shirts with logos or slogans from other brands and restaurants, political statements or anything else that might be deemed offensive or inappropriate for a business setting.

DO Show up on time, every time.

Do show up on time, every time. Showing up late to a job interview reveals an inability to manage your time and forces the interviewer to wonder what you would do if you were ever late for work. Punctuality is incredibly important, so make sure that you are always on time. To do this, be sure to plan ahead when preparing for your interview.

  • Know where you’re going before the day of the interview so you can have ample time to find the place and park if necessary. On the day of your interview, give yourself enough extra time (at least 15 minutes) in case something unexpected happens like traffic or getting lost.
  • Aim to arrive early (at least 15 minutes prior) rather than on time or even worse—late! This way you’ll be able to relax and shake off any stress from being stuck in traffic or other unexpected mishaps without having to worry about running late for your big moment.

DON’T Wear anything that shows your tattoos or body piercing (unless it’s for a role where it fits the vibe).

When applying for a restaurant job, you’re going to want to look smart and professional. This means that it’s time to cover up your body art. Tattoos are often not appropriate in a restaurant setting, so if you have some ink that’s visible on your hands or neck, it should be covered up. However, if you’re applying for a job at a themed restaurant (for instance, one with a pirate theme), then visible tattoos may be acceptable. You should also cover any piercings that aren’t in places such as ears or nose (and even those ones are better hidden). If the jewelry doesn’t fit within the dress code of the establishment or can get caught on things within the restaurant, it’s best kept at home. Additionally, if you have long hair, make sure that it’s tied back so that it doesn’t end up in food and doesn’t distract from your interview-ready appearance.

DO Keep your cell phone in your pocket and off during the interview — never use it in front of the interviewer.

Look, we get it. We are all attached to our technology—it’s practically an appendage. But keep your phone on silent and in your pocket during the interview. It should be off unless you have a family emergency or some other possible life-altering situation (like if you only have one bar of service left on your cell phone and need to check in with someone about their horrible TV show idea). And even then, please make sure that it is on silent so if it does ring or make any noise, you can apologize profusely, turn it off and move on from the situation as quickly as possible.

Even if the interview seems like it’s not going well, do not pull out your phone to text a friend about how poorly things are going. If you do end up getting hired, chances are that this person will see whatever you write about them (or their restaurant) when he or she inevitably looks at security footage of your interaction once they hire someone else.

DON’T Wear anything from another restaurant (even if you worked there).

DON’T Wear anything from another restaurant (even if you worked there).

Wearing a uniform shirt or jacket from another restaurant, even if you worked there and it’s in great condition, is a bad idea. It screams brand confusion and that you aren’t loyal to the company you’re interviewing with. Never show up in an outfit that is even remotely not 100% yours. You don’t want to give anyone the impression that your appearance is a knockoff—especially when your entire career hangs in the balance!

Even if you worked at one of their other locations, don’t wear their uniform unless they say it’s okay. If you wore a uniform for them before, bring your resume as proof instead of wearing something tangible.

DO Come prepared with references and be ready to talk about your work history.

Be sure to have some references prepared, too. It’s traditional for employers to ask for three references from previous jobs that can vouch for your work ethic and abilities. (Most people wind up using their last two managers, as well as a teacher or some other professional person who has mentored them.) Be ready with the contact information of these people—including phone numbers and email addresses—so that you can provide it quickly if asked.

You should also be ready to discuss your previous work experience with the interviewer so that they know what type of job will best suit you. Since most restaurant manager jobs require excellent communication skills, customer service skills and the ability to work with others in a fast-paced environment, make sure to highlight any past experiences where you demonstrated these skills in action. If you have gaps in your employment history, explain them openly rather than trying to hide them or pretend they don’t exist, because these are likely to be discovered by an employer during a background check anyway. Honesty is always the best policy when interviewing for a new job, so be truthful about why you left previous positions and what you’ve been doing since then as well.

DON’T Assume you can’t look great without spending a lot of money on a new outfit. Shop for something simple but professional at a place like Goodwill.

DON’T assume you can’t look great without spending a lot of money on a new outfit. Shop for something simple but professional at a place like Goodwill.

Unless you work in the fashion industry, your interviewers will not expect you to show up looking like you stepped out of Vogue magazine. As long as your clothes are neat and pressed, they’ll be happy with your appearance. If this is your first restaurant job interview and you’re not sure what to expect, it’s always better to err on the side of caution than to go with something too flashy (or revealing) and risk offending someone.

DO Dress to show off your personality and make you feel confident, but never dress in a way that’s distracting or unprofessional. You want the interviewer to see you and not your clothes or accessories!

When you go to the interview, you want to look and feel your best. After all, who wants to present their worst side to a potential employer? This doesn’t mean you have to wear a three-piece suit or anything that makes you uncomfortable—just look like yourself but at your best! Make sure your clothes are free from wrinkles or stains and that your shoes are new looking. If anything looks dirty or worn out, it should be discarded before interview day.

On the other hand, don’t wear clothes with distracting patterns or colors that take the focus off of what’s important: you! Also, avoid anything with a competing restaurant’s logo on it; for example, if you’re interviewing at Applebee’s don’t show up in a Domino’s shirt. Don’t show up dressed too casually either; sweatpants and flip flops will make it hard for the interviewer to see you as an employee they’d be proud of having in their restaurant.

What to wear to a restaurant hostess interview

Now let’s talk about what to wear. You want your clothing to be professional but not super dressy, since you’ll be working with food.

Avoid jeans and sneakers. Neat, clean black dress pants or slacks and a nice pair of shoes are appropriate in most cases. Make sure your clothes fit well, but aren’t tight or revealing. It’s best to keep jewelry to a minimum (if any). Hair should be neatly pulled back if long, and makeup should be minimal. For men, make sure nails are clean and short. Avoid wearing cologne or perfume—it may seem like a good idea at first, but you could offend someone with allergies or sensitivities (not to mention it will provide no benefit).

What to wear to a restaurant job interview

  • Dress well. You don’t have to wear a full suit, but you should dress business casual. Avoid anything that is too tight, too short, too baggy or too revealing. Even if the restaurant has a casual atmosphere, you still want to make a good impression on your interviewer(s). Just because the restaurant doesn’t have a strict dress code doesn’t mean that they won’t hire people who fit into their culture and image. Also make sure there are no stains, rips or tears in your outfit.
  • Don’t assume the dress code at an interview will be the same as the day-to-day employee dress code. For example, if you’re interviewing for a fine dining establishment where employees wear all black attire with white collared shirts, it’s not OK to just show up in all black as if you were going to work there that day and leave out of the collar and tie detail. Don’t assume that kind of thing will go unnoticed by your interviewer–the details are what count!

What to wear to a fancy restaurant interview

When deciding how to dress for a restaurant interview, you’re provided with many options. Your attire will depend on the type of restaurant where you’re interviewing and the type of job you’ll be doing there.

For most interviews at upscale casual or fine dining restaurants, the best option is a suit with a matching shirt and tie, paired with dress shoes. Don’t forget to polish your shoes! If this is more than you budget allows, choose a nice blouse along

What to wear to a restaurant manager interview

Looking professional is important for the restaurant manager interview. If you’re not the star of your resume, then your reputation as a competent and reliable employee will be on the line.

Do: Dress professionally. This means don’t wear T-shirts and jeans to an interview. These aren’t exactly professional attire; they’re more like what you’d wear in college to class (if you were still in college). A suit is best. If it’s not your budget to buy one, borrow one from a co-worker or rent one at a dry cleaner. Never sleep in clothes that smell like smoke or coffee—it will give off that “I’m an average joe” vibe that sends managers running for the hills.

Don’t: Wear flip-flops, flannel, pajamas, sweatpants, tattered sweatshirts with holes and frayed cuffs…you get the point!

What to wear to a restaurant server interview

For a fancy restaurant, you should dress up to match the restaurant’s atmosphere. Avoid jeans or graphic tee-shirts. Show up in semi-formal business attire, such as slacks, button-up shirts and dresses of an appropriate length.

For a casual restaurant, you should still look nice and put together but can feel free to wear something more comfortable like jeans and a collared shirt or blouse.

Your appearance is one of the first things your potential employer will notice when you walk through the door for an interview. Choosing the right outfit is important because this job requires meeting people face to face on a daily basis. It gives your potential employer their first impression of how you handle yourself and shows them what kind of person they are dealing with.

What to wear to an interview at a nice restaurant

The general rule of thumb is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Because your appearance and professionalism directly affect the guests’ experience at a restaurant, it’s important to look and act the part. When deciding what to wear for an interview with a nice restaurant, it’s important to take into account both who you are interviewing with and what role you are applying for.

In most cases, dressing for an interview with a nice restaurant will be similar to dressing for a meeting with your boss. You want to be perceived as someone who is confident, professional and level-headed in every aspect of their life—including how they present themselves in their clothing choices.

While it may seem cliché, one of the best ways to ensure that you look great at your interview is by wearing something that makes you feel confident!

What to wear to an interview at a bar/restaurant

So, you’ve made it to the interview stage of your restaurant job search. Congratulations! Now, it’s time for your second big test: what you’re going to wear.

When first interviewing for a job at a bar or restaurant, dress code is usually business casual. You want to make a good first impression, but you also don’t want to look like you’re interviewing at an investment bank. What should you wear?

Here are some of our best tips for nailing the interview look and making sure you get the job:

  • Be well put together and professional. Avoid distracting clothing like low-cut shirts or super short skirts that might cause more attention than intended. Bring clothes with you if needed so that you will be able to change at the place of employment before the interview begins.
  • Know what is appropriate for your body type and comfort level. If it isn’t comfortable or flattering on you, don’t wear it!
  • Dress appropriately for the position in which you are applying–if available, check out what current employees are wearing and use this as a guide when choosing your outfit (you can do this by checking out their website/social media accounts).

Always wear clothing that makes you look sharp, shows your personality and helps you feel confident at the same time

Your interview outfit should make you look sharp, show your personality and help you feel confident all at the same time—but it’s also important to dress appropriately. We recommend knowing what type of restaurant you will be interviewing for so you can dress the part.

For example, if you are interviewing for a fine dining establishment like a steakhouse or an upscale Italian restaurant, then a suit is likely appropriate. However, if the job is in a fast-casual restaurant such as Panera Bread or Chipotle Mexican Grill, then wearing formal business attire may not be necessary. A button-down shirt with slacks is generally appropriate for any type of restaurant interview.

Just keep in mind that while there can be some variation depending on the exact nature of the job and company culture, there are some types of clothing that are simply inappropriate to wear to any type of job interview, including those at restaurants.

When deciding what to wear to your interview at a restaurant, avoid these:

  • T-shirts with logos and/or witty sayings printed on them
  • Jeans with holes in them (unless it’s for a job at a trendy bar)
  • Clothing that shows cleavage (for women)

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