Interview Shoes – What’s Right

Interview attire advice often focuses on suit colors and cuts or whether to wear a skirt or slacks for women and the color of either. Other articles of interview attire are even more important. A case in point is shoes. For both men and women, wearing the right style and type of shoes can often serve as the most important and most visible item of interview attire.


While there are infinitely more styles of women’s shoes available than men’s, the styles that are appropriate for interviews are even more limited. The rules about the condition of shoes for women are the same as for men. The shoes must be in top condition and well maintained if not new. While all the colors for men included black and black, there are more possibilities fro women. While black and navy are safe bets 95% of the time. Other colors are OK but must complement the suit or outfit and should match the purse or handbag too. Avoid light colored shoes for interview and never wear white shoes to an interview unless it is for a nursing position. If brown, dark shades are best. Avoid suede and never wear shoes that have metallic sparkle, glitter or sequins for an interview (or for business ever).

The styles of shoes that are appropriate for women to wear for interviews fall into four categories: classic leather pump with a heel, the leather sling back style with a heel, the classic leather Mary Jane style shoe with a heel, the flat or ballet style shoe in leather. All should be leather. All should be well maintained and worn with neutral colored stockings or pantyhose regardless of the season or temperature (or knee highs if work with slacks).

The leather pump. Heel heights and shapes vary. This is the traditional shoe for women in business. Solid color.

The leather sling back style with a heel. Again heel heights and shapes very. This shoe while very traditional has an adjustable strap rather than a closed back. The shoe is classic and in good taste but with a bit more style and is considered a bit more dressy than the plain leather pump.

The classic leather Mary Jane shoe. This is not the flat soled cloth model or even the funky thick soled model worn by teens. It is basically a leather pump in style and cut with a thin strap ending in an adjustable buckle across the instep. Better with skirts than with slacks.

The flat or ballet style shoe in leather. This kind of shoe if made of fine leather and in a traditional cut is classic, flattering and is worn by women of all heights. But it is favored by very tall and strangely enough, very short women. It may be plain or decorated with a discrete bit of gold metal or grosgrain bow at the toe. The casual ballet slipper style in fabric, needlepoint or less dressy leather should be saved for wear with jeans or khakis.

What shoes are not appropriate for women to wear to interviews? Frankly, everything else unless the interview is not for business, non-profits or one of the professions. Anything in unnatural colors or with sparkles or anything novel just will not do. Flip flops are a no always. As are sandals. Big, clunky shoes are for teenagers or weekends. Loafers are for khakis and weekends. Tie shoes are not appropriate for women in business unless running an art gallery or a church order. Finally,lots of straps, very high heeled shoes should be left for weekends and never for work. Forget what they say in “Sex and the City”.

Shoes speak volumes about a person. This is never truer than in an interview environment. Make sure the shoes that you wear say all the right things. While they will not guarantee a job, the will not be an obstacle if the points outlined above are observed.