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Top-to-toe tips on how to dress for a job interview

The excitement of learning that your application for a job has earned you an opportunity to present yourself at a formal job interview is quickly followed by the nervousness, anxiety and uncertainty of the interview preparation.

In addition to all the obvious concerns of what questions or assessments to expect from the interview you need to think about what to wear.

This is not just another flighty, fanciful fashion moment; this is the real deal!  Employers and recruiters all agree that first impressions count and even though we may not like to admit it, how we look is often the first thing people notice and use to formulate an opinion. And never does this matter more than in a job interview!

To help you prepare for your next interview, we have put together these top-to-toe tips on how to tackle important wardrobe and grooming decisions.

Head start

Him:

  • Keep the hair clean, neat and out of your face. Don’t go overboard with the gel or wax; the only slickness needed in the interview is your answers. If you wear your hair long make sure it is tied up neatly.
  • Make sure to do a nice close shave on the morning of the interview and be careful; you don’t want nicks, cuts and rashes to interfere with your smooth look. A little aftershave can go a long way, but too much will have the interviewer going away, so just a splash not a shower please.
  • Take out any studs and or rings you may have. It’s you that needs to shine this time, not your ears, nose, eyebrows or tongue!

Her:

  • Make sure it’s a good hair day with freshly washed hair beautifully styled. Don’t hide behind heavy bangs and tie back long hair from your face, the interviewer is going to want to look you in the eyes and, well, they need to be able to see them to do that.
  • Choose neutral soft colours and tones for your make-up on the day, avoid bright loud colours and keep it light not stage ready for a close-up. The close up is on your skills, no distractions welcome.
  • The outcome of the interview may tell you something about your future, but don’t go in wearing big hoops like a gypsy fortune teller – keep the jewellery sophisticated and understated. It goes without saying that other facial bling needs to be left at home, even subtle nose studs and the likes will compete for your spotlight.
  • Sunglasses are eyewear not hair accessories, avoid having them multitask as an Alice band and rather put them in your bag once you get indoors.
  • Don’t overdo the perfume, just enough to make good sense, not overwhelm the senses.

Both:

  • Nothing makes a better first impression than a warm friendly smile, but make sure to have sparkled your pearly whites with a good brush and ensure you have the fresh breath to back it up!
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before, your eye’s need to be bright and alert, not swimming in the bloodshot blur of a heavy night.

Wear in your welcome

What to wear for a job interview
Her:

  • What you wear to an interview is dependent on the company culture of the employer; for formal business environments like finance or corporate companies, wear a tailored suit with modest understated blouse and closed-toe heels (moderate height or flat, not stiletto). Pants suits for the more conservative and skirt suits for the more contemporary. Black, grey or navy, are the safest colours and in the future they are easy to mix and match with other pieces.
  • For companies with a more business casual culture, smart trousers in khaki, beige or white worn with a modest top and cardigan in soft colours make up the type of outfit that would be welcomed.
  • Whatever you decide to wear, make sure you are revealing nothing more than your skills and professional experience. Plunging necklines with ample cleavage or skintight pants with panty line showing through or above are absolute deal-breakers.

Him:

  • Tailored suit in black, grey, stone, brown or navy, a crisp ironed white or pastel lounge shirt, neatly tied tie and lace-ups or loafers make the ideal interview outfit for a formal business environment.
  • For the more casual business, a smart shirt, no tie and chino trousers will suffice.

Both:

  • Ensure that your outfit is clean and ironed and your shoes are in good condition and freshly polished. If you are going to be walking a distance to get to the interview, take a buff cloth with you and give them a fresh shine before you go into your interview.
  • Although tattoos are widely accepted these days, don’t have them on display unless it cannot be avoided.

Body language

The unspoken communication of gestures and posture is critically important in an interview. We can say so much without words here are some examples:

  • Slouched shoulders show laziness and boredom or lack of energy and interest at best.
  • Folded arms with shoulders wide apart suggest toughness or superiority, folded arms with soft shoulders suggest shyness, discomfort or a reluctance to engage.
  • Fidgeting and roaming eyes could communicate that you are nervous or disinterest or at worst the interviewer may think this suggests some mistruth in your answers.

Take this advice and don’t be scared to show a little personality in your style too.

Can do will do