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Choosing the perfect job interview attire

On02/ 09 /19

What you wear to a job interview can play a huge part in making a good first impression on a recruiter, hiring manager or interview panel.

As well as what you wear, the way you wear it can contribute to how you perform and how you’re perceived as a potential future employee. Here are some top tips to get your interview outfit spot on.

Don’t leave it to chance

There are plenty of ways to work out your prospective company’s dress code - rather than guessing and being way to casual or overly formal.

Look at their social media posts on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook to get a good grasp of company culture. Pay attention to what the current staff members are wearing in each of the photos and check the associated captions to help determine which have been taken during a usual working day and which photos are of special events or charity initiatives so you don’t accidentally determine that tuxedos or boiler suits are the way to go.

This online research is a good way to answer any other potential questions you may have about how staff are rewarded, the size of the company and ages and backgrounds of your future colleagues.

And, if you’ve been talking with a recruiter about the role, they’ll often have the ‘inside track’ and can recommend how formal to go.

If you’re still not sure, get in touch with the organisation’s HR department and ask them directly (we guarantee that you won’t be the first to ask them this question!).

Wear something formal, but comfortable

Once you’ve researched the dress code, aim for just above the expectations to make sure you’ve got an appropriate level of formality ticked off.

So, if you’re told ‘smart casual’ (i.e. shirt/blouse and jeans), go for a more formal, ironed shirt/blouse and dark coloured chinos look.

For more formal workplaces, go for a dark suit or tailored dress/skirt with matching jacket rather than anything that vaguely fits into the suit / skirt category. A good level to aim for here is the two immediate positions above the role you’re going for, so you can show ambition and fit in with those likely to be interviewing you.

When you’re choosing your specific clothes, make sure it’s something that you’ve worn before and you know fits you well - it doesn’t feel alien. There’s nothing worse than answering tough interview questions whilst not being able to breathe or feeling too hot or cold in unfamiliar clothing.

Think about what to wear several days in advance, so there’s time to ‘wear in’ new shoes or jackets to avoid them rubbing or being unwieldy. You want to feel comfortable and confident in whatever you’re wearing, after all. 

Also, often people focus on the interview itself and they don’t think about the before and after of the interview. So for example, if the journey involves a lot of walking, be sure to wear sensible shoes. Think about the weather and the season, and perhaps carry an umbrella just in case.

Keep it clean

Your outfit should communicate that you are organised and presentable. Be sure to check your clothing is clean and ironed (and free from pricing stickers, if it’s new). 

Take precautions to keep it in top condition. If you’re getting your outfit ready the night before, then hang it up away from anything that could cause it to become dirty or crumpled overnight like children, animals, plants or unreliable appliances.

Don’t forget the details around your outfit

You should portray a high level of attention to your potential employers so be sure to have a complete outfit.

If you’ve put on a tailored suit and polished your shoes, but still have your Power Rangers watch on, it can contradict the notion that you’re the serious professional you’ve said you are in your job application.

Think about socks, belts, bags, tights and other accessories like the pen you use to take notes and the water bottle you drink from. These all need to fit in with your overall look to make sure your efforts don’t go to waste.

Also, think about your hair. Your hairstyle can say a lot about you as a person, so keep it professional and appropriate - with the same going for makeup and any aftershave/perfume you pick.

Avoid overwhelming your interviewers with your appearance (and smell) and concentrate on overwhelming them with your answers and experience instead…

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