If you’re in the line of work where online job applications are all you need to worry about, good for you. But many people still need to worry about interview questions and wardrobe issues while job hunting. Here are my favorite tips for handling the job interview outfit on a budget.


If you think people aren’t checking out your shoes during a job interview, think again. It’s important to get the best shoes you can, but there’s more at stake than what people think. Pavement pounding involves long periods of being on your feet, and a good pair of shoes will help you go the distance pain free. At our house, we’ve also found that dishing out a bit more means we don’t have to replace them as often. While paying a thousand bucks a pair is way out of our fashionable footwear budget, finding the extra hundred dollars in wardrobe funds for a good pair is something we’ve found worth the money.


My husband has a pair of Timberland dress shoes he bought more than twelve years ago. They are still going strong, and what he wears when footwear requirements are casually dressy. He has a pair of shoes that go well with a suit as well, but many job interviews are more suited to a pair of khakis with a dress shirt and tie. For these, the Timberlands do fine and they cost roughly a hundred dollars for a decent pair. I have a pair of dress boots that I paid roughly the same amount for. They work with pantsuits, dresses and long skirts, shine easily and support my feet for hours on end.


Skip the expensive watch and briefcase, and opt instead for the most serviceable smart phone you can afford. Even the most impressive models will cost less than a high-end timepiece, and it will meet your needs more specifically as well. If you have documents to bring, carry them in a file folder as a courtesy. You won’t have to worry about meeting any brand expectations that way, but will still be able to play the game. Splurging on a snazzy tie or professional manicure can bring boatloads of style and panache to the interview table without breaking the bank too much.

Suit Hacks:

For men, a navy sport coat can pair with several colors of slacks and saves money when a formal suit isn’t necessary for the type of interview you’ll be doing. This enables you to spend the big bucks on one clothing item instead of both a jacket and pants. Of course if you are applying for the types of positions where the full shebang is called for, then by all means invest in a couple of suits. But if you’re not, then using the sport coat hack is a huge money savor that many people overlook.


If the interview is more about you taking on the individual as a client rather than a traditional employee and employer relationship, then attempt to organize the meeting in a location that doesn’t necessarily require designer suit duds. If you’re getting together for cocktails at the country club or meeting for a tee time at the golf course, then any wardrobe items you dish out for – even the more expensive brands – will cost lots less than the old school interview outfits. Ditto with sliding in a meeting at the ski lodge.

Depending on the type of interview and how much control you have over the situation, you can easily avoid overspending on clothing during your job search. Plan your purchases with precision and pay attention to incidentals in order to save as much money as possible.

Myscha Theriault

Myscha Theriault

A lifelong money cruncher who can squeeze a nickel ‘til it cries, Myscha is a syndicated columnist, best-selling author, and founder of Trek Hound and We Be Sharin’.