Job Interview Attire – What Not to Wear (and What You Should!)
Unless you’re applying for a job as a costumed character, you need to look smart and well presented for a job interview. I’ve personally found myself looking online for inspiration for interview attire as I don’t see the appeal of a dark grey trouser suit with a salmon shirt, but that’s always what it comes to. So I’ve decided it’s about time I get something useful out there to all our jobseekers and to help everyone else out there who’s struggling to find suitable business wear in their wardrobes (or floordrobes in many cases).
Now, this isn’t my personal opinion on how people should look – I’ve asked for opinions, tips and tricks from those who have worked or still work in recruitment and held interviews.
So, congratulations! You’ve been shortlisted – no more hanging around in your jammies, it’s time to suit up.
1. Trousers. Thumbs up to black, dark grey, light grey and navy blue, but only if they’re pressed and look like they fit you. You don’t want to give the interviewer the impression that you’ve only bought these trousers for the interview and will buy some new ones if you get the job.
2. The shirt. You may be brave enough to sport a salmon shirt, but not for an interview. You don’t want to be remembered as ‘the guy in the pink shirt’. Avoid dark colours too as the colours you wear reflect your personality and with you only getting one first impression with the interviewer; you don’t want them to think you’re dull and boring. White shirts are classic and a safe bet, but if you accidentally put your favourite white shirt in the dark wash, light grey is ok too.
3. The tie. Now there are some snazzy ties out there. Some of them I think “why even make that”, but looking through my partner’s tie collection (picking them up off the floor, more like); he does have some more… peculiar ones. Probably from some three-pack where he only liked two of them. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to focus on the Channel 4 news because of Jon Snow’s crazy ties, so how do you think an interviewer would feel if he’s looking at your rainbow striped number? Wear a solid colour – black’s always a winner but deep red, navy blue, forest green and other strong colours are good.
4. The shoes. You may think that the interviewer won’t notice what you’re wearing on your feet, but they do. Go for black or brown and make sure they’re polished. A shiny shoe is a happy shoe.
5. Accessories. Men like to flash their bling too, so if you have a nice watch, wear it! If it’s bright yellow or has Mickey Mouse on, maybe not. You may want to show your fun side, but save that for the Christmas do. If you’re a guy who wears earrings, take them out (or at least lose the diamonds!)
6. Bag. Don’t show up to an interview with your sweaty gym bag or your festival backpack. Ideally you want to be bringing a folder of your achievements to your interview so get a nice bag to put it in. Not necessarily a briefcase, but something with carry handles which gives the appearance of a briefcase will give you a sense of power.
Interview attire can be tricky for you, especially if you like to be bang on trend. You can’t exactly show up in your vintage shorts and creeper shoes, can you? No. You can’t. You won’t get the job. But here’s some advice on what you can wear.
1. The blazer. Think about power dressing – taking influences from businessmen and making them feminine. You can’t go wrong with a tailored blazer and with so many styles, there’s something for everyone. Whether you go for the traditional blazer, or a fitted peplum number like the one in the picture, you’ll look professional. Avoid cardigans and jumpers; they’re more of a working Wednesday thing.
2. The shirt. Like with the gents, the shirt you wear can say a lot about you. If you’re determined to get your personality across, go for texture rather than colour. You can’t go wrong with white or cream and there are some really nice shirts with lace overlays or collar detail. Steer clear of vibrant colours; it’s not your summer beach party in the board room.
3. The shoes. Whether you’re a fan of flats or you love stilettos, just make sure you can walk in them. I have ‘interview shoes’ – a pair of patent black high heels that would kill my feet if I wore them for a whole day. They look smart and I chose heels with an ankle strap so they stay on my feet when I wear tights. Just like at school, stick to black shoes.
4. The bag. Don’t try and squeeze all of your belongings into your smallest handbag, it won’t work. Get yourself a smart bag which had carry handles rather than a strap that goes across your body. My interview bag is monochrome (cream/white and black) like the one pictured.
5. Accessories. Stud earrings and that watch that haven’t really had a chance to wear because you’ve been job seeking are acceptable and so is one/two rings, just not big chunky sovereigns or ones with diamonds bigger than your head.
6. The skirt (or trousers). What girls wear for bottom-half interview attire can be boring. If you want to wear a skirt it should be about knee length in black, grey or navy blue. Trousers also black, grey or navy but pressed and clean. Tights are a must, especially if you didn’t have time to shave your legs.
These are just ideas, not the law. However bear in mind what you really shouldn’t wear. There’s the obvious stuff like that see through blouse or your “I’m with stupid” t-shirt, but here’s some things you should look out for.
1. Scruffy shoes. You can buy shoe-care travel kits and it’s advisable to get yourself one before you attend an interview (ladies, this includes you too). Just because your shoes are sparkling when you leave the house, doesn’t mean that it’s not throwing it down out there or you won’t accidently step in something.
2. Coat. There’s nothing stopping you wearing a coat to your interview, just make sure you take it off if you’re waiting at reception. It’s acceptable for you to have your coat on if you’re being shown in from outside, but not if you’ve been sat around for twenty minutes. It gives off the impression that you’re eager to leave before the interview has even begun.
3. Patterned ties. Don’t distract the interviewer with that ugly thing your dad gave you.
4. Dark/coloured shirts. I’m sure you’re cheerful, but your shirt doesn’t need to be.
5. Party shoes. Stick to your black court shoes rather than your sparkly killer heels that you fell out of at the weekend. Fellas, that includes you too!
6. Short skirts. If your skirt is a bit north-of-the-knee, don’t wear it. Not only will you forever be pulling it down, but you might flash your interviewer whilst you attempt to sit pretty on your chair
7. Don’t get your baps out. Avoid wearing anything low cut. If you interviewer is male, it’ll be a huge distraction. If your interview is female, she’ll think you’re a tart.
8. Put your phone away. Turn it off, not just on silent. Vibrations in your lovely new bag still make a noise. If it’s important, you’ll get a voicemail.
9. Jewellery. They might be your favourite earrings, but you’re not there to knock the interviewer unconscious when you turn your head. Anything sparkly will be a distraction, so stick to studs.