What to Wear to a Job Interview at a Restaurant

Wondering what to wear to a job interview at a restaurant? It can be tricky to dress for an interview in a non-office setting, but interviews at restaurants are fairly common, so it's important to be prepared.

There are two factors that will help you decide what to wear: 1) what type of job you're applying for, and 2) where the interview will be taking place.

If you're applying for a high-level management job, for example, you will want to dress up your look even if you're interviewing in a casual coffee shop. And, regardless of what type of job you're seeking, it's important to put in the effort to make a good first impression.

In general, though, an interview at a restaurant does afford slightly more freedom in dress code than if you were interviewing in an office. Here are tips on what to wear to a job interview at a restaurant.

Coffee Shop

PhotoAlto / Getty Images

Most coffee shop meetings don’t require full-on business formal attire, but it’s important to take into account the whole picture, too.

If you have an interview with a start-up company at a neighborhood coffee shop, for example, you can likely get away with a crisp top and dark-wash jeans. However, if you're interviewing for a management-level position and the interview's taking place at a fancy coffee shop a high-rise corporate building, then you will want to 'upsell' your look.

Outfit Ideas

Casual Lunch

Allstair Berg / Getty Images

When you’re invited to a lunch interview, research the restaurant online and see if you can find a dress code rating on sites like Yelp or OpenTable.

If there’s no mention of a dress code, and the place doesn’t seem especially fancy or exorbitantly expensive, you may be able to get away with a polished, but easy-going business casual look. Think lighter colors, relaxed button-downs, khaki or colored slacks for men and women, and boat shoes or flats for men and women.

Take into account the season, too. For example, an outdoor, patio-type eatery will not likely be the setting that requires a head-to-toe business formal look. Review these tips for better business lunches before you go.

Outfit ideas

Mid-Scale Lunch

Westend 61 / Getty Images

For an interview at a mid-scale restaurant, try a relaxed business formal look. What does that mean, exactly? Men might consider an open blazer over a button-down with no tie. Or, a button-down with a tie, and no blazer, but an accessory like a vest or pullover sweater.

For women, try a knee-length pencil skirt with a simple button-down, or a simple, tailored dress with low heels or flats. This type of dress also applies to happy hour meetings or a drink in a relaxed but upscale environment, like a hotel lobby or a lounge. 

Outfit Ideas

Upscale Lunch

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

A classic, upscale business lunch or dinner at a five-star establishment requires full-on business formal attire. Business attire for men comprises a suit or dress slacks and jacket, shirt, tie, dark socks and dress shoes. For women, business attire includes a suit, dress slacks blouse, or formal dress with hosiery and closed toe shoes.

Outfit Ideas

What to Wear When the Job is at the Restaurant

Kathryn Ziegler / Getty Images

Is your interview at the restaurant, for a job at a restaurant? If you're interviewing for a server, barista, hostess or cashier, position, stick to an all-black look: a black button-up, wrinkle-flee black slacks or a pencil skirt for women, and black dress shoe. If you're interviewing for a manager or supervisor role, try a polished business casual look.

More Tips for What to Wear to Job Interviews