What to Wear to a Job Interview?
Job interviews are stressful for many reasons: an unfamiliar environment, limited time to impress potential employers, a lot of questions ̶ and uncertainty about the outcome. You need to present your skills, your experience, and your personality in a very short space of time. Of course, many factors affect your performance, and perhaps clothing is not the decisive one ̶ but it certainly does play a part.
A carefully considered choice of outfit can be a huge asset when it comes to interview day. If you want to find out why – then read on!
Why is the interview attire important?
Even though it's not necessarily the key factor during an interview, first impressions can strongly influence interviewers' opinions. While it's tricky to change any first impressions you make, you can often affect people’s perceptions with your choice of clothese. Potential employers can draw many conclusions just by looking at your outfit. They decide whether you know anything about the company and its business profile, if you are professional and well prepared, and if you pay attention to detail. As it’s hard to demonstrate all your skills and knowledge during the interview, you must take full advantage of the fact that your attire matters.
Apart from making a positive first impression, comfortable clothes also make you confident and better prepared for the interview. It’s even recommended that you dress up for phone interviews because it changes the mindset and you will demonstrate a more professional and task-oriented attitude.
Finally, an appropriate outfit shows that you respect a potential employer or client, and that you have taken the time to get to know the company’s standards and expectations.
Comfortable clothes make you confident and better prepared for the interview.
What determines the right outfit for a job interview?
There are two main factors to consider when deciding what to wear to a job interview – the company and the position you’ve applied for.
If you're interviewing for a non-professional job, it always helps to look quite smart, but there's no need to go in a suit. However, if your interview is for a professional role or an office job, the business look is highly recommended; it is important though to remember that the business dress code is not the same for all types of company, and the range of possibilities is huge! While interviews at traditional, conservative firms or international corporations usually insist on a very formal outfit, the start-ups' environment is usually more casual. In fact, anything too smart could actually reduce your chances of getting the job!
I strongly encourage you to do some research into the company's dress code policy. You can use professional networking websites for this or ask your friends if they know someone who works there.
However, if you're not able to find this out, then aim for the golden mean. Some outfits are more across-the-board than others. An example of this is the tweed suit; it’s professional but not excessively formal (due to the texture of the fabric) ̶ and perfect for both formal and casual dress codes.
The role you apply for is equally important. Non-management and junior positions are less demanding, especially if the interviewer is at an executive level. In such a case, a smart casual look is appropriate. You can wear a semi-formal shirt with smart trousers, and then complement the outfit with a formal jacket. If, however, you’re being interviewed for a senior-level or management-related job, a full, formal suit with an smart shirt and tie would be the best choice.
An appropriate outfit shows that you really want the job and that you took the time to research the company and its outlook. It also indicates that you are aware of the requirements for the position you’ve applied for ̶ something recruiters see as a valuable asset.
Dos and don'ts of a job interview attire
Men's formal attire is relatively straightforward. It consists of a few basic pieces, such as a suit, blazer, sweater, shirt, smart shoes, a tie and formal trousers. It's not that difficult to put a selection of them together and create a professional-looking outfit that’s suitable for the occasion. But there are some guidelines you should follow if you want to be sure that your interview attire is well styled.
Here they are:
- The most appropriate colours for interview clothes are dark grey and navy blue. They are the most neutral and relatively easy to style, so treat them as a safe choice if you're not prepared to experiment. If you decide to wear a black suit, the material should at least have a subtle pattern on it, and you should avoid pairing it with a plain white shirt.
- The shirt should also be in neutral colours. Select between beige, light blue, cream, and white. Make sure to avoid eye-catching prints. The same applies to other accessories, such as shoes, tie and socks. The whole outfit needs to be chic and smart, but shouldn't distract the interviewers' attention.
- Additional texture in the outfit makes it more sophisticated and less ordinary. If you'd like to have a stylish look but you don't want to overdo it, then this is the perfect solution. Tweed or corduroy are good options for this, as they combine the formality needed for an interview with a touch of casual style.
- For a choice of tie, it’s pretty straightforward; use it for formal dress code, but leave it at home for more a casual attire!
- As mentioned before, not every job interview requires a suit. If the work environment is more casual, then your outfit should reflect this. Feel free to pair a smart business jacket with dark trousers. However, do remember to pay attention to what's underneath the blazer. The shirt or T-shirt (if the workplace is very relaxed) should still be smart.
- Unfortunately, if the weather is very hot on your interview day, short sleeves and/or flip flops are not allowed. You don't have to wear a three-piece wool suit, but the outfit still has to be professional.
- Make sure the whole outfit is neat, recently dry cleaned and ironed. Take time to choose items from your wardrobe that you feel confident and comfortable in. Also, it’s crcucial that you avoid wearing worn-out clothes and shoes.
The start-ups' environment is usually more casual when it comes to the interview outfits.
I guess it's not possible to completely eliminate stress when it comes to job interviews, but there is a way to reduce it. Wearing the right outfit for this occasion can help you feel much more confident and, consequently, increase your chances of getting the job you’be always dreamed about! So, the next time you have an interview, make sure you give a lot of thought about what to wear.
Finally, if you're in the process of sending out your resume ̶ check your wardrobe in advance; if you find that it's missing the appropriate outfit, then feel free to order one from the Tweedmaker store.