Part of preparing for a job interview is making sure you are going to come across as a good addition to their company. Appearances shouldn’t matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you’ve even uttered a word.
Direct approaches (specifically phoning to check the dress code) or indirect approaches (standing outside the office a few days before your interview to check the people coming and going) are both valid ways of determining the general rules.
Aim to dress one level up from what you would expect to be wearing if you got the job. It hints at your desire to progress and succeed within their company. If in doubt, always go for a classic plain business suit. Both male and female versions come in all shapes and sizes and can be picked up relatively cheaply. Combined with a clean shirt and preferably a tie, you’re unlikely to feel out of place.
Essentially, if you feel comfortably, you’ll act comfortably which is vital in a pressure interview situation.
Dressing the part is never something that will get you the job, regardless of how clean your shirt or shiny your shoes. However, it could put the employer off if you fail to follow some basic rules:
- Not too casual - If you get the vibe that casual is OK then stay on the smart side of casual. Ripped jeans, threadbare t-shirts and scruffy trainers should all be left at home. A smart pair of jeans and an open necked shirt is the bare minimum that is expected.
- No headwear – Under no circumstances wear a cap, beanie or hoodie to an interview – you’ll look like you’ve got something to hide. There are obvious religious and medical exceptions to this rule.
- Get the right fit – If you’ve had to borrow an ill-fitting suit for an interview, or just generally like to wear your clothes a little too loose or tight, try and find something a little more regular.
- No flashing – Although it may work in certain industries, cleavage and midriffs should be covered up for job interviews. You should be relying on your other assets to secure you the role.
- Wacky ties – As hilarious as you think they are, your interviewer is unlikely to see you as a new fun addition to the team, instead seeing someone who’s not serious about the job.
- Don’t accessorise too much – remember you want your interviewer to be concentrating on what you’re saying, not the obscure purple broach you’re wearing.
- Subtle make up – You could use make-up to emphasise your eyes and mouth, but should steer clear of anything too outrageous.
- Strong odours – Too much perfume or too little deodorant can both be big turn offs, as can cigarette smells so make sure you smell nice, but neutral.
- Facial hair – The old phrase “Never trust anyone with a beard” is less adhered to nowadays so feel free to go in with your usual fur. However, do make sure it’s well trimmed and clean.
- Piercings and tattoos – Another feature that is increasingly common, and one unlikely to deter an employer. If you can’t remove them, keep any studs small and cover any offensive or obscene body art.
If you’ve had to come straight from work to go to the interview or need to return there afterwards, it’s possible that you will be in the workplace wearing completely different clothes than on a normal day.
If you want to avoid arousing suspicion see if you can get an outfit that’s easily adaptable for both purposes, or alternatively ask a friend who works nearby if you can leave your interview outfit at their office.