Congratulations – you’ve been called for a job interview. The career details on your CV, and the professional and upbeat tone of your covering letter, have got through the HR process and afforded you an audience in front of your potential new employers. You’ve got this far, which is an achievement in itself. Now it’s the opportunity to create the best impression you can, and blow the rest of the competition – in other words the rival candidates – out of the water.
How important is dressing correctly for a job interview? Very, according to a recent article by Forbes that quoted LinkedIn’s career expert, Nicole Williams, who said: “On a job interview, your attire makes a statement about yourself before you even open your mouth.”
First impressions are lasting impressions, so your aim should be to make a visual impact as soon as you walk through the door and empower yourself by wearing a suit. There is a theory that you should scope out the hiring company’s dress code first and take a lead from what current employees wear. Not so; even if there is a relaxed attitude in place it bears no relevance to what you need to wear for the interview. These people already work for the company and have earned the right to take a more casual attitude to their outfit. You have not. You've just send your career objective for finance analyst and got the offer for a job interview. Play safe and dress ‘up’.
The Guardian has some useful tips, which covers advice for both sexes.
The key decision for women is whether to go with trousers or a skirt. If it’s a skirt, the article suggests that, ‘the hemline should be no more than one biro length above the knee’. Black and navy are ideal colors. Trousers the same, and may be teamed up with a formal jacket. Wearing heels is fine but keep these to what you’d consider a sensible height.
For men, much of the same rules apply. Keep it classic and smart. A matching two-piece suit – which need not break the bank, Dobell has a wide and affordable range – and a long sleeved shirt, plain in color (white, pale blue, subtle stripes are fine, nothing too brash or loud) are sensible choices.
An open-necked shirt worn with jacket and trousers is probably acceptable in many cases but it takes little extra effort to wear a tie. If you do decide to go for one, keep it understated, and ensure it compliments the color of the suit. Novelty or cartoon ties are definitely out, however – and the same rule also applies to socks. The ones the kids bought you for Christmas can stay in the drawer – ideally forever. When dressing for an interview, plain black or dark grey socks are preferable.
Shoes should be in good condition, obviously, and nothing too extravagant in color or style. Don’t rock up in cowboy boots or loafers (nothing wrong with loafers, but not with a suit); Oxfords or brogues are perfect.
There are a few other final tips relating to appearance. Gents – minimal, or no, aftershave or scent, please, it could be overpowering – and similarly, ladies, don’t go heavy-handed on the perfume; also, take a conservative approach with make-up. Definitely no chewing gum, your mobile phone should be turned off or turned on to silent, and don’t bring drinks in. Leave the takeaway coffee behind if it’s half finished.
Be careful when it comes to accessories, too. This article on GQ points out that you should dress for success but not too successfully. ‘If you give the impression that you don’t need to work then your interviewer might not be inclined to offer you any,’ it says. ‘Gold monogrammed cufflinks are more appropriate for a boardroom pow-wow or big presentation. If in doubt, dial it down a notch.’
Good advice. Keep it stylish, professional and modest, and walk into the interview room making a positive statement.