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What to wear for a job interview

dressing code for job intereview

You may have heard the age-old advice that you should always dress for your job interview as if you already have the job. Maybe this was the case many years ago when just about everyone would dress formally for work, but these days – not so much!

These days many workplaces have relaxed dress codes where everyone is seen wearing shorts and t-shirts to work. This can often make an interviewee feel uncomfortable when they wear a smart suit for an interview, but find that the employer is dressed far more casually.

You want to create a good first impression, but you also want to project the image that you would fit in well with the workplace culture and be seen as ‘one of the guys’.

It can be helpful to do a bit of research before your interview on the company dress code. If you cannot find enough information to guide you then it wouldn’t seem impolite to ask. You will need to confirm your invitation for interview anyway so why not simply ask about the company dress code in your reply.

formal dress code
Photo credit: unsplash.com/@jeremybeadle

Your reply could go something like this: Thank you very much for your message. I am happy to confirm my interview on Thursday, February 9th at 1:00 pm. Can you please advise me on the appropriate dress for an interview with your firm? Thank you very much in advance.

Formal or informal?

Knowing exactly what to wear for an interview can be a real conundrum, especially when the company you are applying to has a mix of formal and informal dress codes. A front-of-house role may require wearing a more formal suit to work each day, so an interviewer may expect to see this reflected in your choice of interview outfit.

But what if the position you are applying for will see you buried deep in the back office of the IT department? Smart but casual may be better for an interview of this sort. Let’s take a closer look at some styles to adopt for a more formal approach.

The formal interview

When you know that you need to dress formally for your job interview you should be aspiring to dress one level above what you would consider suitable for the job. The general rule of thumb for formal interviews is to wear a smart suit – both for men and women.

It may help you to observe what people are wearing to work at the company by going past their building at the beginning or end of the day as the workers arrive or leave. This will give you an idea about what is acceptable and then aiming a little bit higher for your interview outfit.

While suits never really go out of fashion, it would help to choose a smart suit in a muted shade. Rock stars and celebrities may be able to get away with wearing shiny suits made from material that could coat a frying pan, but you certainly should never wear one for a job interview!

Female Suit choices

Women generally have the choice of wearing skirts or trousers for a formal interview. As a general rule the skirt hemline shouldn’t be too short. Most skirt suits you can buy off the peg tend to have the skirt cut to about 2 inches above the knee, but you can buy suits with longer skirt lengths too.

Depending on the season, it is perfectly acceptable to wear a lighter shade of suit, especially during the spring or summer. However, you cannot go wrong with black or navy blue.

For formal interviews it is wise to keep suits plain, but you can add a dash of interest with a patterned scarf. Shoes should also be kept at a sensible height and be quite regular in design. Avoid stacked heels and bejewelled toes – leave those for a night out with the girls.

Male Suit choices

For the guys it is more traditional to go for dark and sober shades such as black, navy blue or dark grey. Cotton material is preferable as linen tends to crease too easily leading you to look overly crumpled for your interview.

Shoes should be dark, plain and polished. Nothing creates a bad impression like a scuffed and tatty looking pair of shoes – no matter how smart your suit is!

Try to avoid distracting the interviewer by wearing a garish tie. Your tie should complement your whole outfit, not stand out from it. A plain white shirt will always look good with a suit. Remember to leave your Batman socks at home. Yes, your interviewer will notice.

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com

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