When you land an interview at an ad agency, an in-house agency, or even want to give off a good first-impression on an initial call with a prospective freelance client, what you wear matters. But what, exactly, should you wear? And what happens when you’re interviewing remotely using Zoom or other video conferencing tools?
For both men and women, choosing what to wear to a copywriting interview isn’t as easy as you may think. You want to impress them, but you also don’t want to look like uncreative, boring, or uptight.
And what you wear is a big part of your first impression, and it also says a lot about what you think of the company you’re interviewing with and what you think of yourself.
However, ad agencies, and many internal agencies, are casual to the extreme. (Have you ever seen a man wear a giant velour onesie to work? I have.)
It’s a challenge to gauge the appropriate kind of attire for a copywriting interview, so we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts to consider when choosing the perfect outfit.
Don’t: Interview in Jeans
Sure, you’ll probably wear jeans most of the days that you work in the office (and if you’re working remote, you may never level up from leggings). But that day hasn’t come yet.
Right now, you’re auditioning for the right to wear jeans. And the same goes for T-shirts, sweatpants, flip flops, or anything else super-casual. You’re not getting beer with a buddy, you’re trying to land a job.
Even if you’re interviewing via Zoom, I’d strongly recommend wearing pants that at least look professional.
Why? You never know if you’ll have to stand up during the interview, for whatever reason, and what the angle of the camera will pick up. (Pro tip: choose a professional backdrop for your interview; that may mean a blank wall in a closet.)
Don’t: Get Too Dressed Up
Though you want to skip the jeans, you also don’t necessarily have to wear your suit. Men can get away with suits as long as they’re a bit more interesting/creative/funky than your average black suit/white shirt/red tie combination.
And, women may opt to wear a skirt or pantsuit as long as the outfit is interesting, but as most women know, it’s really hard to make those look funky or cool.
Don’t: Wear Flashy Accessories
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t wear anything revealing or flirtatious, but you should also be careful about wearing anything that looks excessively expensive. (That means leaving your Louboutins in the closet and your Rolex on the dresser.)
You don’t need them to form impressions about how much money you’ve made, want to make, or expect to make based on the way you’re dressed or accessorized.
Do: Show Your Personality
And now what to wear: There aren’t any hard and fast rules (that’s a creative industry for you!). You need to look dressed-up and like you put in some effort, but it should also look like you’re creative.
Think of what you’d wear if you were meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time and he’s a world-renowned artist and she’s a world-renowned novelist. You’d dress to impress, but you won’t dress so that they think their darling child is dating an investment banker. Or a mortician.
Do: Opt for Comfort
Dress so that you’re comfortable, but also so that you’d feel at home at the hottest, new, somewhat expensive restaurant in town. After all, that’s what you’re trying to convey to your prospective employers: You’re the hottest, new (somewhat expensive) copywriter in town.
Plus, you may or may not go into the interview knowing how long it will last. A third-round interview may involve multiple people and take several hours.
When you dress in an outfit you’re comfortable in, it will help increase your confidence. For women, black, elastic-waist pants may fit the bill; they look professional, but still feel comfortable. Both men and women should opt for clothing that is neither too tight nor too loose.
For Zoom interviews, you may find that wearing shoes instead of slippers helps you feel more focused and professional, which can channel into your interview. Slippers may make you feel too relaxed.
Do: Try Your Entire Outfit on Long Before Your Interview
To ensure you feel confident in your outfit, you want to try it on before your interview. And not just a few hours or a day before. Try it on as soon as you have an interview scheduled.
This way, if there’s a missing button, a hole, a stain, or anything else that will prevent you from feeling your best, you have time to find a Plan B.
Your turn! What do you plan to wear to your next copywriting interview? Let us know in the comments below!
Got an interview coming up? Here’s more info to help:
- How to Set Yourself Apart from Your Competition
- Interview Tactics to Get an Ad Agency Job
- How to Negotiate Your Salary
- Questions to Prepare for in a Job Interview
- The Secret to Wowing Interviewers
Last Updated on May 10, 2023
Dress pants and a funky top with a pair of more casual high heels
Nicki Krawczyk says
That would be a perfect choice—dressed up, but still funky enough to show your creativity. 🙂
Thanks for commenting!
I recently had an interview with a tech startup, so not a copywriting interview but similarly creative-casual vibe. I wore a black blazer over a comfy olive knit dress, and artisan silver rhodochrosite earrings, with my hair in a loose updo. I got the job!
Filthy Rich Writer says
Sounds like you nailed it, Sophie! Congratulations on the new job!
Sondra R Morris says
I always aim to be the best dressed casual person in the room. So I show that I’m putting in effort with lipstick and earrings, but I keep the outfit simple. My last zoom meeting I opted for a sweater with a simple line drawing of a woman’s face and black slacks. I always aim to be funky enough to signal I’m a creative (bright red lipstick, art on clothing) but professional enough to be taken seriously (neutral colored clothing, simple designs, very light dusting of accessories and makeup).
Filthy Rich Writer says
Hi Sondra, this is great advice for everyone — the key is to be yourself! Thanks for the comment 🙂
Thanks for saving me from looking like an investment banker! I’ve got a tailored 3 piece chalk gray pinstripe suit. It’s super comfy and classy, but it does make me look a bit like I’m cast in an english 1920’s period drama.
Sounds like I should ditch the vest, tie, and oxfords— and hit up my local vintage store for a creative shirt and maybe some classy sneakers or casual loafers for the ensemble.
I love the bit about dressing to impress artist and novelist parents. All things considered, my sights are now set on an outfit that hints at my creative side and would allow me to blend in on a Wes Anderson film set.
Thank you for doing what you do—
Filthy Rich Writer says
Hi Drew! You can definitely let your personality show in your clothing choices! Have fun!