What to wear at interview?

After exploring all the outfit choices in the wardrobe Frances decided that although the summer florals were on trend they were perhaps not the best interview options.

Basic black had always worked before, but was it too dull?

If you are struggling with what you should wear for an interview here are some pointers.

Before you even look in your wardrobe consider:

  • What is the job you are applying for?
  • What would someone doing that job wear?
  • What would someone doing that job wear if they were meeting an important client? This is what you should be aiming for.

It is important to dress appropriately, but what does appropriate look like?

  • For 99% of job interviews you should be wearing a suit or equivalent.
  • Even casual student jobs or bar work merit a smart outfit to show that you are serious about the role. Most employers will have a dress code and it is important to show that you can present yourself well.
  • If an employer invites you in for a casual chat after making an application, it is an interview – dress up!

Interview preparation

  • Check your outfit still fits and is clean and presentable with enough time to do an emergency shop or dry clean!
  • Check your trouser length – they should not be dragging on the floor. No fraying edges or trailing hems!
  • Can you walk in those shoes?
  • Don’t go mad with makeup, perfume and jewellery. Subtle is the name of the game!
  • Clean your shoes – no mud and scuffs!
  • No polo shirts, chinos or comedy ties!
  • No bare legs and no low-cut tops. Underwear should not be seen!
  • No short skirts (Hard to define – knee length is safe, anything above that could be considered too short depending on how conservative their style is.)
  • Plain dark socks.

What is smart / casual?

At assessment centres it is not uncommon for employers to say that evening events are smart / casual. This is an almost impossible category to dress for.

Quite few companies have casual or dress down Fridays but they still have rules about what you can and can not wear. (No shorts, no jeans, shirts must have collars, no T-shirts with logos, the list is endless!) If you look around the office on those days you see a real mixture ranging from suit – no tie, to sundresses, it’s a mess and a nightmare for line managers trying to address what might be inappropriate outfits.

So the lesson is:

  • If you are wearing a suit during the day, take a change of shirt or top. You probably will not need to wear a tie, you might be able to lose your jacket.
  • If you want a complete outfit change then be very careful about your choices this is not the time for a fashion statement.

Are there exceptions to these rules?

Well of course there are but how are you going to know?  It’s better to be the smartest person in the room than the scruffiest.

More links and tips on interview outfits:

Further tips on interviews and videos to help you prepare.

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