You’ve aced your CV, beefed up your LinkedIn profile, networked like a pro and, finally, have landed that make-or-break interview. So far, so good. But as D-day approaches, it’s important to consider what you’re going to wear.
Assuming that all candidates that have made it as far as the interview process will have a similar skill set, it now comes down to how you make your mark. And, while your personality and suitability for the job are, of course, the key variables that will influence your interview performance, the importance of your presentation cannot be underestimated.
So, what do you wear to ensure you make a favourable impression and see off the competition? In short: an outfit that is industry-appropriate, that fits well and, no less importantly, that will make you look and feel good.
Different sectors call for different approaches, and long gone are the days when a suit was the commonly accepted standard. So, whether you’re a creative in the online sector, a suit-and-tie businessman in finance, or something in between, the following pointers will help you raise your style game and ensure your interview wardrobe enhances, rather than detracts from, your time in the hot-seat.
The following cheat sheet won’t guarantee you get the job, but it will help you decipher some of the most common office dress codes:
In a business professional atmosphere (finance, banking, legal, etc.), suits are the norm, so you have no room for manoeuvre. A sharp suit, crisp shirt, elegant tie and polished shoes are your go-to outfit.
In a strict formal dress code, stick to classic colours with subdued and understated prints, such as a diagonal stripe, for example, or discreet Paisley. Ties that express your personality are a no-go; keep it classical and elegant.
If you’re applying for a job in a field that is reasonably informal (start-ups, IT, sales, etc.) yet not quite jeans-and-T-shirt, play it safe with a smart-casual look.
Tailored navy trousers or chinos teamed with an open-neck shirt and blazer is a failsafe outfit that won’t let you down. A smart sweater is also an option, but keep it plain, rather than patterned.
If your (potential) future colleagues spend their working hours in trendy trainers, T-shirts and skinny jeans, you can ease up a little on the style front, certainly. But that’s not to suggest that you can stroll up in ripped denims and a pair of flip-flops and bag yourself the job.
For a solid option, look to, say, navy chinos or dark denims down below and pair with anything from a collared shirt to polo T-shirt beneath a sweater for a play-it-safe look. Add in some loafers or, at a push, casual trainers and you’re good to go.
1. Do your homework
Research the company prior to your interview to get a handle on its culture and how its staff tends to dress. And, better still, if you know someone that works there, ask them first-hand about the prevailing dress code.
2. It’s better to be over- than under-dressed
Even if the company you’re hoping will hire you has an informal dress code that allows employees wear very casual clothing, many recruitment experts advise kitting yourself out a notch above the average staff outfit.
3. Make sure it’s a perfect fit
Ill-fitting clothes mark you out as a man who doesn’t care about the finer points. Make sure your suit jacket has no excess fabric and no overly exposed cuffs; and that your trousers are neither too long nor too short – they should lightly graze the top of your shoe.
4. Get the details right
Make sure your personal presentation doesn’t let the side down. Stained, ripped or badly-fitting clothes are to be avoided at all costs; if you need to get your outfit pressed or dry cleaned, it’s a small price to pay to make a great first impression.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that what you wear won’t ensure you get the job – but it can rule you out of the running.
Best of luck.