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  • Sandra Laws - Career Coach

What to Wear for Your Job Interview: How to Dress for Success


You have an interview next week and you are stressed about what to wear as you want to make a strong impression to the interview panel. The office you currently work in has a relaxed dress code: some employees wear smart casual clothing, open collared shirts, while a minority wear faded jeans and sweat tops! This blog will walk you through the options on what to wear for your next job interview to make a positive impact. From tips on how to project a professional image to understanding the dos and don’ts of acceptable interview dress code.


It is not always easy for interview candidates to select an interview outfit as it all depends on the norms and culture of the organisation. Your first step is to research the organisation to find out whether the dress code is formal or smart casual. You can ring the HR department. In my recruitment roles, I often received calls from candidates enquiring about the dress code for the interview. It is also worth looking at staff profiles on the company website in to get an idea of how the employees dress in that work environment.


Your interview outfit is a key part of selling your image to a prospective employer. A conservative outfit is a safer option than a trendy, flashy one. Your aim should not be to promote your interview outfit; selling your skills should be your key focus.


Pay attention to your personal grooming to project a smart professional image. Ensure you hair is styled and cut. Check to make sure your fingernails are clean and trimmed. If wearing nail polish, wear a neural colour. Check your interview outfit has been washed. As an interviewer, I have seen candidates to turn up for interviews wearing stained and wrinkled clothing.


If you have an interview in a corporate setting, such as law or financial services, a traditional dress code would be expected. I would suggest solid colours such as black, grey or navy. For men, a white or light blue shirt and a tailored suit and tie. It is important to check that your suits are clean, especially if you have not worn it for a prolonged period. It might be that you had stored your suit in the closet after wearing it on several occasions. When a suit has been stored in a closet for an extended period, the suit might develop a musty odour. For women in the corporate environment options might include: a light-coloured blouse, tailored jacket, a tailored dress or knee-length skirt/long trousers.


In the hospitality and retail industries, a smart casual professional look is preferred: for men, solid-coloured jacket, open neck shirt and casual pants for men. For women, smart casual dress, skirt or long trousers with a solid top. Jeans, sweat tops or trainers are not acceptable wear for an interview.


Shoes: your shoes should be polished to ensure for scuffs and mud are removed. For women, low to mid heeled shoes for ladies. Women should avoid wearing open toe shoes and high stiletto heels or chunky heels. For men dress shoes would be appropriate.


Accessories: Ladies – if wearing a skirt or dress, opt for sheer nude stockings. Bare legs are not a good look for a job interview. For men: dark-coloured socks to be worn with dress shoes.


Makeup: subtle neutral tones in makeup.


Jewellery:

A watch and minimal jewellery projects a project image. Women: simple ear studs; avoid large dangly earrings. I would not advise men to wear earrings to a job interview.


What Not to Wear to a Job Interview

  • Tattoos: I would advise candidates to cover up any visible body tattoos for a job interview.

  • Wrinkled Clothing – ensure you clothes have been ironed.

  • Women – avoid low cut tops or dresses that expose cleavage. Crop tops are not appropriate attire for a job interview.

  • Faded yellowing white shirts. I remember interviewing an applicant who wore a white shirt that faded in colour and wrinkled.

  • Heavy perfumes or colognes with intense scents. Some people are sensitive to these intense scents. It would be ideal not to wear perfume/cologne.

  • Uncomfortable shoes or clothing. Tight clothing or high heels that you struggle to walk in.

  • Short mini skirts

  • Taking shopping bags to interview with you. On occasions I have seen candidates enter the interview room with shopping bags. However, it is quite acceptable to bring a small suitcase into the interview room if you had to travel a long distance to attend the interview.

Some final tips to consider on your interview dress code: when you have decided what outfit you will wear to the interview, try on the outfit several days before your interview to get an idea how you feel wearing the clothing and shoes. This dress rehearsal gives you have ample time to update your outfit to would potentially avoid wardrobe malfunctions on the actual interview day. When I prepared for interviews, I would put together a couple interview outfits in advance.


When you arrive at the interview reception area, visit the ladies or men’s room to make sure that your clothing and hair is in place. This is particularly important during wet and rainy weather. Remember, when you present a professional and polished image, it can change the way you feel about yourself and increase your confidence.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"To pull off any look, wear it with confidence” - Audrey Hepburn

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