Ever heard the expression, dress for the job you want, not the job you have? When it comes to a job interview, this couldn’t be more true. As part of your interview prep, one of the things that you’ll ultimately have to consider is what you’re going to wear. First impressions count and this is your opportunity to create impact and leave a lasting impression. Interview attire is also often seen as a reflection of a candidate’s familiarity of the company and industry so make sure you do your research.
Here we go through a few things to consider in the run up to your interview, with a few safe options and a handful of strict no-nos! Choosing your attire is a critical part of your presentation and how you sell yourself.
Keep it appropriate
Most people – men and women included – will consider opting for a suit. It’s safe, it’s professional, and for the most part, it’s not going to do you any harm. Neutral colours like black, blue and grey are safe options – avoid loud patterns that might be distracting.
While going conservative is a safe approach for the vast majority of job interview scenarios, the important thing to remember when it comes to dressing for your job interview is that it should ideally be appropriate for the job that you’re interviewing for.
Try to find out what the dress code is ahead of time. If the company opts for ‘business casual’, then you can relax a little on the formal elements, but remember, it’s still business casual. Avoid jeans, trainers, t-shirts, and if you do wear a tie, keep it simple; no garish patterns.
Generally speaking, even if the company policy is more relaxed, there’s nothing wrong with aiming just a little higher than a normal work day just to be on the safe side. You might even find that putting that extra effort into your appearance can make you feel, and therefore act, more confident – so play on that and put some effort into it!
Ladies, keep the neckline high and classy – avoid wearing anything too low-cut – and try to avoid overdoing makeup and accessories like jewellery – you don’t want your ears to be jingling constantly throughout your interview, or for your wrists to jangle every time you move. Not only can these things sound distracting, but if you have a habit of fidgeting, especially when you’re nervous, this can draw attention to that.
Make sure it fits
This might sound really obvious, but if you don’t wear a suit very often and you have to dig it out of the back of your wardrobe for your interview, make sure it fits properly. If it’s been a while since you’ve worn it you might find that it doesn’t sit quite the way it used to. Take a chance to try it on at least a few days before your interview – this way you’ll have time to do some last-minute dry cleaning or buy a new one!
For both women and men, it’s good to know your body shape and dress for it. Not only will trousers or jackets that are too tight not look the best, they might make you feel uncomfortable. The last thing you need to worry about during your interview is feeling like your outfit is going to pop a seam! Also, discomfort shows on your face, and you don’t want to be tugging at your clothes throughout the interview as this will be another distraction.
Get the finishing touches right
Once you’ve chosen your outfit, don’t let the small things ruin the final product.
First of all, make sure your clothes are clean, pressed, and free of fluff and pet hair. Make sure your shoes are clean and polished, sticking with the classic combinations: black with a grey or black suit; brown with a blue or brown suit.
If you really want to add a splash of ‘pizazz’, keep it small. Keep the main things safe and simple, and add a touch of appropriate personality. Gents might opt for a complementary pocket square; ladies might choose to accessorise with a scarf or simple jewellery.
If you’re attending an interview through a recruitment agency, then there’s a good chance you’ll have been given some advice on what to wear, but feel free to ask your consultant if you’re not sure. They are there to help you through the entire process. Even if you’re dealing with the employer directly, feel free to ask when the interview is set up what you should expect to wear – there’s nothing wrong with asking just to be sure.
According to a survey 37% of bosses said they decided not to hire an applicant based on the way he or she dressed. Meanwhile, 65% of hiring managers say that first impressions are based on the way you dress, act, and walk through the door, and the quality of your voice and confidence. A combination of all can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates. If you look great, you’ll feel great and if you feel great, there will be a much higher chance of you getting the job.