How to Dress For a Job Interview

June 21st, 2016

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Whether we like it or not, first impressions are important. During interviews, in particular, first impressions are everything.

Your appearance is the first thing people notice about you, and it can take as little as a tenth of a second for the interviewer to form an initial opinion about your suitability for the job.

So, if first impressions are largely defined by the choice of clothes, you need to make sure your attire is nothing less than perfect. With the following tips and suggestions, you can be sure to tick all the boxes for a successful first impression!

Check out the company’s culture

The interviewer wants to know if you’ll be a good fit for their specific company. So it makes sense that you try and dress accordingly to what that company’s employees usually wear. Is it formal? Smart casual? Absolutely casual? Or a mix?

If possible, get answers to these questions before your interview. With a little bit of research, you can get at least an overview of how the company operates and what the dress code will be like, which will make you feel far more prepared.

Dress appropriately

It’s better to overdress than to underdress.

If you’re not too sure whether to go smart casual or formal, or if the company has a mix of dress codes, always choose the more formal option. It demonstrates professionalism and, respect for the position and company you are interviewing for.  Plus, it is easier to transform a formal attire into a more casual one than vice versa.You can choose to wear a blazer for a formal look and pack a black cardigan in your bag if you decide the blazer might look too uptight later on. It is unlikely anyone will dislike you for looking too good!

Say no to loud prints or distinctive patterns

Try to be as simple as you can when choosing your outfit for an interview. Go for block colours and plain designs. Not only are loud prints distracting, but some people may associate them with things that won’t work out in your favour. For example, you may decide to wear a blouse with a bee print, which you think is cute. But maybe your interviewer is allergic to bees. What happens then? Chances are her first impression of you won’t be as positive. Same principle goes for ties and socks!

Be sure the style and clothes are a good fit

The clothes you choose need to fit perfectly, and most importantly, they need to make you feel comfortable. Nothing worse than wearing something that doesn’t feel right, especially in a job interview! To make sure this doesn’t happen, try out the chosen outfit before the interview, walk around, and sit down in it.  Take your outfit for a test drive before the final show!

Wear clean, ironed clothes

No stains, no wrinkles. Clothes need to be neat before an interview. Your attire needs to reflect your attention to detail and cleanliness, not your clumsiness and lack of interest.

Shoes

Nothing worse than uncomfy heels! If you truly feel comfortable in heels, try to keep them to a sensible height, as you never know how much walking you’re going to end up doing on that day.

For shoes in general, try to stick with enclosed ones that don’t allow your toes to be seen. This advice goes for women and men’s shoes.

Picking the right colours

Colour is important, as it is often associated with specific emotions or ideas. As an overall recommendation, it is better to always go for the neutral colours, such as brown, navy, white, gray or black.

If wearing a suit, avoid bright colours and stick to traditional darker tones. You can try different ones in a suit store and get recommended by the suit specialist. They are able to give you advice on which colour or fit will suit the purpose of the suit.

If the role you are seeking is of the creative variety, yellow, green and purple are great choices. These colours pop and are enticing to the eye. Purple is symbolic of being unique and artistic, while yellow is synonymous with creativity and optimism. Green has a calming presence like blue, and furthermore represents prosperity. However, orange is one colour to avoid as it insinuates the candidate is unprofessional. In fact, 25% of employers felt orange was an inappropriate colour for an interviewer according to a survey undertaken by CareerBuilder.

Accessories

You want your interviewer to be listening and assessing you and your abilities, not looking at all your jewellery. That’s why less is more when it comes to choosing accessories during job interviews. Avoid wearing too many rings, earrings or just generally, too much bling. Choose just one statement accessory: either a cool necklace, a pair of earrings, a ring, a scarf, a belt, etc. Just make sure it’s only one so your look isn’t too busy from competing accessories. void hats altogether as they can make your hair look flat and you need to remove them during the interview anyway.

Grooming

Nails

For men, nails must be short (all of them!) and clean. For women, proper manicured nails are advisable. However, they must be a sensible length, clean, and with little or no nail art at all. Good polish colours are dark red, brown and beige tones.

Makeup

Aim for a middle ground: wear some makeup, but don’t go for a full on makeup tutorial look. Make sure the makeup you do use actually works for your features.When choosing a lipstick, always go for neutral colours, as with very bright lipsticks the risk of staining your teeth is way too high, and it can be embarrassing during the interview.

Hair

Hair must be neat, and your face must be kept clear. For men who have facial hair, make sure it’s tidy, trimmed, combed and clean (this means, if you have a beard, wash it!).

Perfumes

Don’t go with extremely sweet or strong perfumes, as sometimes people may dislike those distinctive odours. You never know which fragrance your interviewer is going to hate or feel irritated by, so keep it low-key. It is safer to choose more acidic perfumes and make sure you don’t apply too much.

Body odour

Don’t be the person who had an impeccable resume but didn’t get hired because you smelled bad. Wear a powerful deodorant (if you’re a woman, male deodorants do the trick) and don’t exercise right before going to your interview. The idea is to ace it, not sweat it!
It may seem superficial or unnecessary to focus so much on your appearance when you’ve worked hard to build a great resume and you know you have what it takes to get the job done. But trust us, in this particular instance, looks do matter. It’s what creates your first impression and sets you apart. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be one step closer to landing the position you deserve.

Hayden Langhorn

Hayden Langhorn is the Managing Director at Intercheck Australia. He is a leading expert in pre-employment screening and is passionate in helping businesses to reduce employment risks while scaling up their businesses.