Interviews can be nerve-racking affairs and it can be easy to get so caught up in prep that you forget to put the same thought and care into selecting your outfit. Unfortunately, failing to look the part can be a fatal job-seeking mistake.
According to a study carried out by CV-Library, over 50 per cent of bosses would be put off a candidate who dressed inappropriately for an interview. In an ideal world, first impressions would be based on personality alone, rather than appearance. Unfortunately, the reality is such that how a candidate presents themself during an interview has a major impact on their perceived employability.
It can feel like a difficult line to tread as the rules (spoken or not) vary depending on the industry and company culture. But if you want to make a strong first impression, looking polished always pays off.
Below are six tips to help you select the winning look for any type of interview.
1. Mind the company dress code: Companies have different expectations when it comes to interview attire. For example, if you’re interviewing for a role at a conservative, suit-and-tie type organisation, you won’t earn high marks from the hiring manager by donning your leopard print tights. Select your interview outfit with the organisation’s dress code in mind. Your goal is to dress as though you already work there and are attending an important meeting.
2. Do your due diligence: If in doubt about the company’s dress code, take a closer look at the ‘About Us’ and ‘Employment’ sections of its website and social media channels, and research the company on sites like Glassdoor for clues. You could make use of people in your network who know the organisation and can help you in selecting an appropriate interview outfit. These connections may also be able to provide you with insights into the organisation’s hiring process, to give you that all-important boost of confidence before your interview.
3. Focus on the classics: If you’re going to invest in a few new pieces for your interview and work wardrobe, go for capsule, timeless items that are versatile and will stand the test of time (nobody wants to be always forking out for expensive workwear.) Consider these pieces of clothing to be the foundation of your professional ensemble – classic items that you can layer together and dress up or down depending on the occasion. Chic, tailored separates are always a good shout!
4. Be yourself: You don’t need to sacrifice professionalism for style or vice versa. When something really suits you - whether it’s a beautifully tailored blazer, flowing high-waisted trousers or a flattering midi-skirt - donning an outfit that you feel comfortable and confident in will empower you to do yourself justice in the interview.
5. Add a pinch of personality with your accessories: Consider your handbag, shoes or jewellery to be your style outlet. These accessories are a great way to lift your look and personalise a simple outfit while maintaining a polished appearance. However, when selecting your accessories, remember that less is more. Use the 80 per cent classic; 20 per cent individual rule to guide you. Make one accessory your statement piece. Wearing a ring on every single finger will only distract the interviewer from focusing on more important items such as your experience.
6. Do a dress rehearsal: When was the last time you wore your interview outfit? Try on the entire ensemble a few days before the interview to make sure everything fits you properly, is washed, ironed and ready to wear. Now is also the time to sew on that missing button - not the morning of your interview! Take care of these details ahead of time so you can focus on more important items on your pre-interview checklist.
Your choice of outfit might seem like a small factor in the grand scheme of things, but making a great first impression with your clothing is more important than you might think. Follow these tips to select your next interview look and you will be sure to create a winning first impression.
About the author
Amanda Augustine is the career advice expert for TopCV, the largest CV-writing service in the world. She is a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) and a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with over 10 years' experience in the recruiting industry. Have a job-search question for Amanda or TopCV? Submit it here.