Posted over 7 years ago by Career Moves Group

Dress to Impress at an Interview


​So…you’re looking for a new job, have found some agencies you want to meet and companies advertising roles you’re interested in. You’ve applied, and been offered an interview. Great!

So, while there’s far more important things to consider…what on earth do you wear to the interview?

The initial thought might might be to wear a suit. NO!

You need to stop and think…why a suit?  What does a suit say that something else can’t?Now, I’m not saying that a suit isn’t suitable (sorry) interview attire, but you have to really think about where you are interviewing, and if it’s appropriate.

It’s the same as any other day, you wouldn’t wear sandals in July if it’s raining just because it’s July, would you?  No. And you don’t need to wear a suit just because you’re going to an interview.

Apparently, it takes seve seconds to make a first impression, and your interviewer will get sense if you’re going to fit in fairly quickly.

You want to feel comfortable, and I can tell you from first-hand experience, if you waltz in wearing a suit and your interviewer comes out in jeans and a t shirt, you’re likely to feel a little silly…yes, that’s me over there in the grey suit.

Thinking about it now, it’s shocking that I didn’t think twice getting ready for my second interview, but that’s how easy it is to get sucked into the interview = suit mind set. (I’m still not sure how I got the job, but nearly four years later and I’m still here, I must have done something right!)

So, there’s the back story as to why I think it’s important to make a smart decision about your interview outfit. Working with the industries we do, we know how important it is that there is a real, honest, ‘fit’ between a candidate and a client. Both parties need to feel a connection, and be comfortable with the way the company works, the essence of the place they’re going to be working. This includes the dress code.

You need to talk to your agency or research the company website to get a feel for the culture. We offer advice about this sort of thing to all of our candidates as, like you, many of them will assume that they should wear a suit. If a candidate doesn’t ask, or we forget (yes, we’re human, it happens!) then I thought this blog would be a good place to find the relevant information.

Think smart, chic, on trend.  Think business mixed with pleasure.  Think the high street meets the board room.

Ladies, I would urge you to steer clear of the twin set or suit and jacket look. We’re lucky, we have multiple options! You can…

  • Pair a smart trouser with a print top (or a patterned trouser with a nice plain top – flip reverse it!).

  • Wear a nice just-above-the-knee (never too short, leave some things for the weekend) or midi dress.

  • Try and avoid spaghetti straps – don’t show too much flesh on interview, you need to look professional after all. Don’t forget…think down to the basics…it’s been written recently that red lingerie isnt’ work appropriate…there’s nothing wrong with red undies but you don’t want your interviewer and potentially boss getting a glimpse of your delicates. No, just no.

  • Rock a nice court shoe, pump or even a smart boot is great.

  • Wear a coat if you need to, but don’t wear it through the interview – be ready to throw it over your arm and look comfortable.  You won’t if you’re wearing a heavy coat inside!

  • Use a bag that doesn’t leave you carrying loads of extra bits, and try and avoid having more than one bag (even if it’s your gym gear…good for you but you don’t need to take that to your interview!).

  • Don’t be afraid to wear colours, team a black dress with a red shoe if you want!

The key is to add personality to your outfit. You have to let a little bit of you come through!
Another important step in getting ready for us ladies is make up. For an interview, ‘day’ make up is a must…

  • Try to avoid too dark a lipstick and heavy eye make-up, you need to look wide-eyed and bushy tailed, not ready to hit the dance floor. 

  • Hair up, hair down, however you fancy, just make sure it’s neat and tidy, and not in a style that’s going to have you faffing with it throughout your interview.

  • Top Tip…Tucking your hair behind your ears is a sign of nerves, so you can beat this by making it unnecessary.

  • Don’t bathe in your perfume, a light spritz behind the ears and on the wrists just before you walk in is perfect.

Gents, you have some basic rules here. Remember this is a general rule, your recruitment agency will always let you know if you need to wear a suit. For the brands we work with, follow these guidelines:

  • No suit jackets if you’re wearing suit trousers.

  • By all means, wear a tie (this is a tricky one) but I’d suggest going for a fashion tie, i.e. a skinny tie, rather than an old school wide tie.

  • Nine times out of ten I’d suggest a nice shirt with an open collar if you need to go slightly more suited and booted.

  • My favourite option for you guys is a casual shirt with a dark chino and smart shoes, always smart shoes.

  • And, don’t forget, a smart blazer goes a long way, and it means you can feel smart without wearing a full suit.

  • You need to think about hair too, so smarten it up and trim that facial hair.

I’d say the one Golden Rule for interview for all is no jeans – yes, you might be able to wear jeans to work when you get the job, but you’ll need to err on the side of caution when it comes to a dress down interview. The trick is to dress up just enough to show you’ve thought about what you’re wearing, and that you get where you are.

So get dressed, gear yourself up and GOOD LUCK!  You will do great, don’t forget to think positively, be honest and ask questions!