Knowing what to wear to an interview gives you the opportunity to present your best self to a prospective employer. Part of that presentation is dressing appropriately for the position you’re applying for. The word appropriately is very important here, every company is different, has a different take on the importance of appearance so doing your research in advance is essential.
Look on LinkedIn/Websites at existing company employees to gauge the common attire that is being worn. Not all LinkedIn or Company photos are work related so bear this in mind. Whilst turning up for an interview informally could well go against you, dressing in a corporate formal way can have the same affect, doing your homework can be the difference between being hired or not.
Increasing your chances of getting hired should be part of your preparation, you are creating a first impression and you are in complete control of this, so really there are no excuses. The person interviewing you is going to create an opinion rightly or wrongly more often than not, is going to combine appearance with what you say. The below information is a guide on what to wear and how to dress appropriately.
Checking the business dress code for what to wear
If you’re not sure what to wear to an interview, the website and social media pages of the company you’re interviewing for can be informative, but not always. If you can’t determine the organisation’s dress code, consider calling either the recruiter in advance for confirmation or contact the company directly. Explain you have an upcoming interview with the company and want to know how their dress policy. You might think that this could go against you during the interview, but it’s most likely going to have a positive effect. An employer may even appreciate the fact you took the effort to find out how to dress suitably for the interview.
Another aspect of learning about the dress code is to consider the industry and the role you’re applying for. An office job generally requires you to be smart casual or be in formal work clothes (suit or skirt or trousers, or a tie and suit). Casual employment tends to be more relaxed with regard to dress codes, and managers may prefer interviewees to show up mirroring the culture of the company.
Try not to assume that a business doesn’t care about how you dress for an interview. Looking your best shows respect for the employer and that you care enough to give a good impression to those responsible for hiring.
Understanding business casual wear
Business casual is the wearing of professional clothes that aren’t tailored or formal. The garments that define business casual are those that can be worn under a suit jacket with tailored trousers or skirts but can also be worn without. Many professional industries have moved to business casual and don’t judge an interviewee if they dress in the same fashion. What business casual is not is a t-shirt, jeans, shorts or loud prints. Business casual is a conservative, yet a relaxed type of dress that’s appropriate in many industries.
The key rules:
- No suits. It’s fine to wear a jacket, but it should be the light, stylish kind, paired with a non-matching skirt or trousers.
- No jeans, trainers or t-shirts. If you’d wear it to lounge around at home, it’s not the right look.
- For the guys, you absolutely must wear a collared shirt. Add a light wool sweater, jacket, tie, or all of the above as you like.
- Women, pair a nice blouse/shirt/top with formal trousers or a skirt. If you go with a dress, you can get away with something more flowing than you’d wear to a formal interview, but avoid anything strappy.
Tips for women:
- Don’t overdo the jewellery – nothing too chunky or dangly. Also avoid anything that gives you the urge to fiddle with it.
- Keep the heels moderate (3 inches max) but avoid completely flat shoes unless you really need them. Be sure to coordinate – navy with navy suits, black with grey.
- No cleavage – it looks unprofessional.
- Wear tights, even in summer.
- If you opt for a dress instead of a suit, it needs to be sleek, sculpted and mostly a solid dark colour.
Tips for men:
- Ties should be low key. This is no place for comedy or cartoon characters.
- Wear black leather shoes and a matching belt. Brown shoes are for light grey or linen suits, which aren’t really suitable.
- Go for a plain shirt in a traditional colour – white or pale blue. Beware of pink!
- Your suit needs to fit you well. Get yourself measured and fitted by a professional. If you’re on a budget, ask about sale items, and if that’s no good, take the useful info somewhere cheaper. Different high street shops suit different body shapes, so shop around.
- Avoid ostentation. Don’t be the guy with the pocket square.
Tips for non-binary:
If you don’t feel comfortable in the traditional uniform of either gender, there are benefits to dressing your own way. Firstly, you’ll feel and look more confident. Secondly, if your potential employer can’t handle that much at interview, you’re unlikely to find a positive work environment at the company.
- Waistcoats are your friend here – a three piece suit is formal but can have an androgynous vibe if you leave off the tie.
- Non-traditional haircuts must be immaculately groomed. Natural colours are preferable.
- No matter what you wear, it needs to be well-fitting, good quality, pressed and pristine.