A job interview will always be one of life’s most nerve wracking events. You’ve done all the hard work, prepping and researching, rehearsing interview questions, arranging travel and transportation… and then you fall at the last hurdle – your clothes aren’t appropriate interview attire. You can be the brightest, most innovative person in the world but at the end of the day, first impressions always matter. No matter the position, dress conservatively and remember that it’s always better to be overdressed than under-dressed.
A classic, crisp white shirt is always a winner – just make sure it isn’t see-through! My advice is to button it all the way to the top and team with a statement necklace; interview attire doesn’t have to be boring. For busty ladies, buttoning up shirts can lead to gaping holes that show off your assets.
To conceal this, a good idea is to wear a thin, round neck sweater (cashmere is a great fabric to choose) and layer it over the shirt. You’ll need it to be thin to avoid looking too bulky, plus when we’re nervous we tend to sweat; try and avoid wearing anything which might make you too hot.
Informal vs. Casual
If you’re not wearing a sweater, team your shirt with a smart blazer. If your interview is taking place at a large, corporate business then go for black; it’s the safest and most conservative option.
If your new potential place of work is more casual, why not wear a coloured blazer? Dusky pink or coral will look fabulous with a white shirt, plus it’ll help you to stand out from the other candidates.
Ensure that your blazer is impeccably clean – dry clean if necessary – and has no wrinkles in it whatsoever. Creased clothing gives the impression to your interviewer that you don’t care about your appearance or your belongings. If you don’t care about that, how can you be expected to care about the job that you’ll be expected to do.
Pants and Trousers
So, you’ve got your top half sorted. Moving onto bottoms, you have two choices really; trousers or a skirt. If you opt for trousers, you don’t have to wear boring, unflattering black work trousers. An interview outfit should still show off your style, so if you’re a lover of skinnies, wear skinny trousers!
Depending on the colour on your top half, black, grey, navy or cargo green skinny chinos can look smart, sophisticated and stylish. Try to avoid crazy patterns or prints, plain smart trousers will make a better impression.
If trousers aren’t for you and you think a skirt is more your style, go for a pencil skirt that finishes either on the knee or just below; anything shorter might be deemed as inappropriate. Another point is to make sure your skirt is tailored and fits your body properly. If your skirt has been hanging in the back of your wardrobe for 10 years and you find yourself squeezing into it, it’s time to go and invest in a new skirt that fits properly.
A skirt so tight that you can barely walk is not a great look, instead find something that could have been custom designed for your body; do research and don’t buy the first thing you see, always try on and remember that your size may vary from store to store.
I advise wearing tights with a skirt; either flesh-toned or black is fine. Ensure that you don’t have any ladders or holes in your tights. A good tip is to carry a spare pair in your bag, just in case of an emergency.
In terms of shoes, be sensible. Don’t go tottering in wearing six-inch stilettos. Wear something that you feel comfortable in; wear flats if you want, or if you can walk (and not topple) in heels then wear classic Mary Jane’s; patent black is a great choice. You’ll look smart, professional and chic.
For men, the options are a little simpler. You can never go wrong with a decent suit. Make sure that your suit fits you properly; the shoulders should sit flat against your body (no baggy or tight jackets!) and the hem of the sleeve should show off a little bit of shirt cuff. Your suit trousers shouldn’t be too tight on the thighs, and definitely shouldn’t show your socks. A grey or navy blue suit looks very smart – black can look a little funeral director-esque. Make sure that your suit is impeccably clean and pressed to perfection. Wear a clean white shirt and you’re good to go.
Shoes and Accessories
In terms of shoes, you must make sure that your shoes are clean and polished. Never, ever wear trainers to an interview – smart dress shoes only. If your suit is grey, go for black shoes. If you’re wearing a navy suit then brown shoes are a good option.
Don’t underestimate the power of accessories. Wearing a tie will really smarten up your entire outfit and make you look professional; an undone collar will always look sloppy in comparison. Never wear a hat to an interview, it looks far too casual, plus many people feel that wearing a hat indoors is rude – you really don’t want to offend your future boss!
Carrying your CV or any other documents in a briefcase will make you look like a true businessman – try to avoid using cheap, flimsy plastic folders. If you don’t have a briefcase, opt for a smart leather portfolio case instead.
Always make sure that you are well groomed, and you’ll be good to go!