What to wear to a job interview

First published: 31-07-2015

What to wear to a job interview

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Whether you're after your first job out of university, returning to work after a career break, or looking for a new adventure, interviewing for a job can be quite a daunting experience. However, a sure-fire way of making a great first impression is looking every inch the ideal candidate.

Snappy dressing is one thing, but there are some finer details that will take you from just another interviewee to someone your potential employers will remember. From head to toe, we've got some suggestions for how you can present yourself in a perfectly professional way.

Cracking the code

This is the big one, so let's address it straight away.

The first thing we recommend is establishing the dress code. Whether you ask your interviewer for some guidance when you arrange the interview or check the company website to see what impression they give, getting this right is absolutely vital.

Many offices these days stick to a more casual style, but some still adhere to the business dress code that requires a suit. Turning up in a shirt and tie could look out of place in a casual office, so make sure you know what style to aim for.

Saying that, it may be a good idea to dress a couple of degrees more formal than the office generally dictates. Showing up in jeans might imply that this is as professional as you're willing to dress, and that is the last impression you want to give.

Comfort and confidence

If you're going to spend all day adjusting your straps or tucking in an ill-fitting shirt, then your discomfort is going to be a distraction - both for you and your interviewer!

Try on your outfit a few days before the interview, and only go ahead and wear it if it fits you perfectly. You should feel totally confident in your clothing, so leave anything that's overtly figure-hugging or too short. The same goes for shoes; anything you can't walk in at home will do you no favours on the day.

Creases are your enemy

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Wash everything you're going to wear a few days beforehand. You don't want a single stain to catch your - or your interviewer's - attention half-way through the interview.

Ironing your clothes may take a bit of time or effort, but it's worth it for how much smarter it makes you look. There's no excuse for turning up in something creased, as this gives an instant impression of scruffiness and will certainly count against you if the job involves any client-facing activity.

Take the time to really perfect everything you're wearing. Lift off any dust, threads, or other debris with a lint roller or brush. They will fit in most bags and briefcases, so give yourself a quick once-over before you arrive at your interview (or maybe in the toilets when you get there) for a last-minute boost in smartness.

Bulging pockets are no good, either, so keep your lines clean and leave your wallet and phone (on silent!) in your bag. Polish your shoes before you leave the house, too - an interviewer is bound to notice if you don't!

Accessory to excellence

Getting your accessories right will help you show off your personal style whilst maintaining a professional appearance. With regards to jewellery, pick one item rather than loads, and keep things subtle.

A watch can say an awful lot about you just from a glance, so it's important to choose the right one. Look for something that will match the business environment perfectly, with a classic face and smart strap.

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If you're a gentleman, you can't go far wrong with a simple, leather-strapped model, such as this men's Daniel Wellington design.

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Similarly, rose gold is a great, versatile option for women, demonstrated perfectly by this Marc Jacobs watch.

Don't let the invisible become visible

Underwear is never just an option, but your prospective employer doesn't need to see every hem and waistband. Keep your necklines modest and your trousers pulled up enough to cover up your delicates - we call it 'under-wear' for a reason!

When it comes to socks, these should be equally undetectable. A wacky pattern is unlikely to look endearing, whereas plain black socks under black trousers go completely unnoticed - which is exactly how they should be.

If you're wearing tights, take a spare pair just in case you get a ladder. It's worth doing whatever you can to keep the focus on what you're saying, rather than any wardrobe mishaps.

Win it by a hair

Whilst of course you want to look your best for an interview, it's important to still be appropriate. An intricate hairstyle or an entire tub of styling gel is unlikely to earn you the job, so it might be best to steer clear of anything adventurous. Keep it all neat and simple, so you can devote all your attention to showing exactly why you are the perfect candidate.

Pattern recognition

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Another great way to show off your personal style is with a pattern, but not one that will overpower your outfit. Choose carefully, and reserve your jazziest one for the nightclub!

A tie or foulard is an ideal opportunity for something more vivid, so long as it matches the colours of your overall outfit. Alternatively, if you are wearing a decorated blouse or shirt, keep the rest of your clothes plain to complement it.

More importantly… Smile!

You're never fully dressed without one.

Any job interview will be nerve-wracking, so give yourself one fewer thing to stress about. Use our tips to keep your outfit smart yet simple, and eliminate any last-minute worries about your hair, hem, or the coffee stain on your sleeve you're hoping they won't notice.

Take the time to make sure you're looking as professional as possible, and ensure your first impression is a great one.

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