Author Eva Caiden
You’ve researched the company, you can recite your key achievements of the past and have looked up your interviewer on LinkedIn. But have you thought about what you’re going to wear to your interview? A recent survey found that 33% of bosses know within 90 seconds whether they’ll hire someone. And a whopping 65% indicated that clothes could be a deciding factor between two near identical candidates. The message is clear: appearance does matter. And our clothes make up an important part of our appearance. This doesn’t mean spending a fortune, but it does mean working out what’s appropriate for your role. We spoke to some style experts to find out what you should wear – whatever your profession.
Stylist Angela Barnard says formal, polished outfits are a must. “Stick to a suit in a neutral colour like black, navy and grey. You can add colour with a tie if you’re male but nothing too crazy: stick to stripes or a small spot rather than loud flowers. For women, a simple camisole or silk tee under a suit has a more feminine and contemporary feel than a cotton shirt. A tailored dress with a coordinating jacket is also a great option. Keep jewellery simple and make sure shoes are clean and scuff free.’
Angela advises a smart but less formal approach for candidates in this field, “For women, a great option is a smart dress teamed with a jacket or even a fine-knit fitted cardigan. Men could team a blazer with a slim leg chino and a crisp white shirt. Brown brogues look very stylish with a chino. It’s advisable for men to wear a tie in most interview situations.
Style blogger and journalist Christina Miller advises you to add personality with your accessories, “Although these jobs tend to be seen as creative, they are all part of a highly competitive and therefore professional industry. With this in mind, choose muted colours that won’t distract the interview panel in a style that suits your body shape – good quality materials help with structure and well-fitting undergarments are a must for ladies.
“Interesting accessories, such as a statement bracelet or a pocket watch, add personality.” According to Sophie Hay, men should stick to slick suits or, for less formal situations, navy chinos with a smart shirt. “You can opt for a bolder choice of colour or print for ties and shirts – you want to appear modern so look at current trends when making your choice,” she advises.
Be bold, says Sophie Hay, fashion writer. While you should research the company culture to ensure you nail your outfit, this is one situation where it’s ok to turn heads. “Unlike other interview situations, expressing your personality through colour and pattern is a plus when it comes to the arts – in fact, it can be a good conversation starter.
“For guys, I’d suggest black jeans, a chambray shirt and a nice pair of simple leather trainers. The shirt likes you’ve put in some effort whilst still being relaxed: top it off with a light bomber. For women, a jumpsuit (no shorts) is fashionable but office appropriate. If you want a smarter look team some tailored culottes with a simple tee and a smart pair of sandals.”
You can ditch the suit, but steer clear of jeans, says Sophie Hay. “A pencil skirt with a silk blouse and a small heel will show you mean business while men should opt for chinos with a shirt and tie. Anything less formal will appear too laid-back.”
A corporate approach is best in office-based roles such as these. For women, a knee-length shift dress with a court shoe will show you mean business, while men should wear a shirt and trousers (tie not obligatory.)
Public facing roles require a smart wardrobe and good grooming. A silk blouse with a knee length pencil skirt in neutral tones is perfect for women while men should wear a suit and tie for formal situations (e.g. in the hotel industry). Retail roles will vary depending on the brand but always be aware of the image your employer wants to project.
While your day-to-day wardrobe in these industries may incorporate workman’s boots and jeans, at interview stage you should bypass this for a smarter approach. Men could wear blue chinos with a shirt (tucked in) and some smart, unscuffed shoes while women should try a crisp white shirt tucked into some smart trousers and a pointy, flat shoe.
Hygiene is key here and so is the comfort. A uniform is likely to be mandatory but at interview stage, you should dress practically. Some black or navy trousers and a smart shirt (tucked in) work for both sexes. Women should ensure shoes have little or no heel, that jewellery is kept to a minimum and nails are short and free from polish. Long hair will need to be tied back and piercings will need to be covered.
Infographic by Totaljobs