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How to dress for an interview

In the current climate, securing your ideal job is an achievement in itself, so if you’ve managed to get your foot in the door you want to make sure you don't leave anything to chance.

It can be difficult to know what to wear for an interview, especially if you haven’t had many before. So once you've thought about your strengths, your weaknesses and “a time you've overcome a challenge”, don't forget to plan your outfit.

Why is it important?

Like it or not, your appearance will be judged as an expression of who you are and your approach to your work. And before you get disillusioned and think interviews are just a beauty parade; they aren’t. However, the reality is that your clothes, hair and shoes will all be viewed as indicators of your status, self-confidence, self-care and self-worth.

What’s right and what’s wrong?

Doing your research is the best place to start. The internet will help you find out as much as you can about the company and the sector they are in. If you can, after this, try and speak to some employees or to friends who work in a similar environment.
You could also call the HR department and ask them if they have a dress code. Failing that it has been known for people to hang around outside the offices of the company they’re being interviewed at and check out what the staff are wearing.
Of course, you can normally tell a lot from the sector you’re going to be working in. For example, for more conservative companies such as law firms, banks and large corporations, men really can’t go wrong with a well-fitting business suit in blue, black or grey; paired with a non-garish, well-ironed shirt and a simple tie – classic and timeless. For women, a trouser suit or skirt suit in neutral colours with a blouse or shirt is a good idea.
Alternatively, a formal work dress in blue, black or grey, paired with a tailored jacket. When it come to footwear, men should go for clean, polished leather shoes, for women the main rule is don’t go too high on the heels.
Another word of advice for women: keep make-up to a minimum and avoid accessories that are garish, chunky or dangly, as this could distract an interviewer.
For companies with a more relaxed dress code like advertising agencies, publishing houses and design consultancies, the general rule for both men and women is the same: err on the formal side. Even for creative roles, you don’t want to be too casual. Having said that, a suit might be too formal, but never ever wear jeans; it’s not worth the risk. So find the comfortable middle ground. Think clean, smart and classic with a twist.
The main thing is to try and gauge the mood of the company and dress accordingly. No matter how cool the company nay appear, it’s still a place of work, so you need to be able to show off your business professional. Of course, your clothes won’t be the deal breaker, but if you can present the right image you’ll certainly be giving yourself a head start.

Our top Dos and Don'ts:

  • Do err on the side of caution – always go smarter rather than more casual, you can’t go far wrong this way.
  • Don't go too sexy. The first thing your interviewer should notice is your professionalism and understanding of the work environment.
  • Do remember that grooming is as important as what you’re wearing, so guys remember to have a shave and make sure your clothes are clean and well-ironed.
  • Do try on your outfit beforehand to make sure it's right. You don’t want to find yourself panicking about what to wear on the morning of the interview you want to be focused on the job and your experience.
  • Don't wear anything uncomfortable that will make you feel self-conscious or distracted.
  • Do forget what you're wearing once you get in the room. You've done all the groundwork in looking great - now it's about telling them what you can do.

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