Advice on how to successfully dress for an interview is wide and varied.
The standard recommendations for job interview clothes are based on common sense – be tidy, smart and relatively conservative and understated. You can take a more personal approach by dressing according to the company culture, the position and what makes you feel comfortable while maintaining a professional look.
Your interview dress should send the message that you have the insight to recognize what the job and company require and that you are able to fit in with this.
When deciding how to dress for an interview it is always best to know what the company dress code is.
Some companies expect a more traditional type of work dress.
- Prepare beforehand and select your interview clothes carefully. Pay attention to detail. All job interview clothes should be clean, tidy and neatly pressed. Check for dangling threads, hems starting to come undone, stains etc.
- Scuffed shoes are an indication of lack of attention to detail. Dirty shoes are one of the most detrimental dress mistakes. Make sure that your shoes are clean and polished. They should also be comfortable enough to walk with ease in, particularly if you are doing a tour of the company or department.
- Hair should be neatly combed and styled. Avoid a hair style that requires you to constantly brush or flick your hair back during the job interview.
Fiddling with your hair is off-putting for the interviewer – it sends the message that you are nervous and unsure.
Sunglasses pushed up in your hair look messy.
- Carry a small briefcase or portfolio in place of a bag to your job interview. If you feel you need a bag, a small structured bag is preferable to a large floppy bag. Avoid canvas and straw bags, these look very unprofessional.
- Wear understated make-up. Shiny eye shadow, heavy eyeliner and overdone lipstick distract the interviewer from what you are saying.
- Before your job interview cover up tattoos as much as possible and take out body piercings including earrings if you are a man.
- Make sure you have cleaned and trimmed fingernails. Understated, natural -coloured nail polish is acceptable. Flashing red fingernails can be distracting. The interviewer needs to focus on what you are saying.
- Don’t bring gum, candy, cool drinks or sodas into the interview. All these send the message that you are not taking the interview process seriously.
- Wear understated jewellery. Ostentatious, in-your-face jewellery is a big distraction and gives the impression of flashiness. Big, dangling earrings and jangling bracelets are particularly distracting as they bounce about as you talk and move your hands. Anklets can make your feet a focal point. You want the interviewer to concentrate on your face and what you have to say.
- Men should avoid necklaces or bracelets. One ring per hand and a watch are enough jewellery.
- Avoid tight fitting or transparent job interview clothes, plunging cleavages, short or slit skirts. Sexy clothes send the message that you are relying on your looks and not your skills to get the job! Leather clothing tends to give the impression that you are trying to be trendy.
- Also avoid wearing baggy interview clothes. Sweats and clothes that are too big create an impression of untidiness. Pants pulled down around your hips look unprofessional.
- If you are having to travel any distance to your job interview consider how wrinkled your clothes may look after a couple of hours travelling. Select job interview clothes that do not crease easily.