As kids, we were often told taught first impressions count. While Granny’s sage advice never meant much to us as youngsters, fast forward ten years, and with a job interview looming large, many of us wonder if perhaps Granny does know best.
How to Dress for Interview Success (and what NOT to wear)
Forbes Magazine reports that we have seven seconds to make a first impression - SEVEN SECONDS! In a job interview, this means from the very second you walk through the door, you are being judged and every tiny thing you do (or don’t do) is critical to your success. All this without a single word being uttered.
The influential American financial magazine quotes recent research from Princeton University psychologists who found that it may take as little as one-tenth of a second for others to size us up. The study found participants formed an impression on personal qualities such as attractiveness, likeability, competence, trustworthiness, and aggressiveness within this split-second time frame- and those impressions didn’t alter much after knowing them for longer periods. So, first impressions count.
In the jobs market, this info is vital. Appearances count, and it’s not just the clothes you wear, no siree. Everything from your hairstyle, scent, footwear, accessories and whether or not you paste a smile on your dial will be scrutinised in lightning speed. So, consider everything you do and wear and how you are presenting yourself in the lead up to your interview- choose wisely, and proceed cautiously.
No matter how impressive your CV or how great your personality, there will always be an instant judgement call when your future employer meets you for the first time. They size you up, make assumptions based on how you present yourself, and- fair or unfair- begin to formulate their opinion of you. Your interview attire and personal grooming reflect how you view the role you are applying for, how well you understand the expectations and demands of the role, and also demonstrate the effort you put into preparing for the role and understanding the company’s culture. Don’t mess up.
While decoding the job interview dress code can seem totally intimidating, once you get the hang of it, it’s actually easier than you think. We’re dishing tips, tricks, and some fashion inspiration on what to wear to a job interview so you can land that dream job! You’ll be romping around wearing on-fleek pantsuits like Victoria Beckham in no time!
Decode the dress code
DO: Dress the part.
DON’T: Be scared to switch it up.
Instead of seeing it as a restriction, view the dress code as a guide to looking your best. Most interviewers never really tell you upfront what they expect you to wear, unless you take the time to ask.
It will always be up to you to decode and research what their expectations are. For industries like insurance or finance, you are almost always expected to show up in a full-on suit while gigs in the fashion industry or for a millennial start-up require a more relaxed business casual ensemble like Gossip Girl starlet Blake Lively’s.
Here’s a crash course on all the dress codes you ever need to know in life. There are three basic dress codes that are universally followed:
Business professional or corporate
In traditional professions and corporate settings, formal wear for the interview is required for both men and women alike. For males, business attire consists of a suit jacket, a button-down with a tie, slacks, and dress shoes. For a female, a suit jacket, a button-down or blouse, a pencil skirt or slacks, and heels. A pantsuit is the epitome of power dressing. It’s called business attire for a reason – I mean, just take a peek at Emma Watson. She definitely means business in this powerful pantsuit!
Business casual or smart casual
For interviews in a business casual setting, you can lose the suit jacket, but keep the rest. For men, a button-down shirt, slacks or chinos, a belt, and dress shoes will do the trick. A tie will depend on whether or not the company is formal or casual. For tech and insurance companies, keep the tie. For start-ups or retail jobs, you can ditch it.
For women, a conservative dress could be an option. Another winner is a blouse or a button-down with a pencil skirt or slacks and dress shoes. As long as your footwear of choice looks dressy enough, you can forego the heels. We love this edgy office ensemble by Jamie Chung. She looks like she’s just about ready to slay that boardroom meeting!
Casual interview outfits are more relaxed, but you should still always aim to look polished and well put-together. Leave the denims at home. A collared shirt, so me trousers or chinos, and dress shoes should do the trick. Take notes from the heart throb himself, Ryan Gosling. These ensembles are perfect for quick chats in a coffee shop with your interviewer.
There are tons of different outfit combos to switch up your job interview looks, all while obeying the rules of each dress code. Your suit shouldn’t be a uniform. Don’t be caught wearing the exact same thing to every single interview. Be creative! Interpret current trends in a subtle way by adding a seasonal scarf, a coloured belt, modern jewellery or different shoes. You can still be relevant but keep it polished and classy.
DO: Think ahead.
DON’T: Forget to do your research.
When putting together your job interview outfits, always tailor fit every look based on these three factors: the company’s background and personality, the nature of the position you’re applying for, and the setting of the interview. If you’re applying for a position in an insurance company that’s been around for 50 years, better to keep it traditional with the cuts and colours.
Stick to neutral or darker hues. Are you applying as a fitness coach in your community gym? By all means, skip the suit and come in your best workout gear. Are you going to a casual interview for a job with an easy-going set-up? Lose the tie. A relaxed button-down will do.
Yes, it’s important to dress the part but it’s also important to dress for the company you plan to work for. Check out the office chic style of Cameron Diaz. We especially love the Chanel jacket. You’ll wow your interviewers and prospective employers with an ensemble like this. No doubt.
Dress to impress
DO: Pay attention to detail.
DON’T: Get carried away.
In job interviews, every little detail counts - from your choice of words to how you look from head to toe. We beg you not to show up in a shirt that’s not ironed. Brush your hair. Always, always tuck your shirt in and don’t wear items of clothing that need repairing. No one likes a sloppy dresser. Brush your teeth, and don’t forget to smile, make eye contact and extend a hand for a handshake.
In the controlled environment of an interview, it’s so easy to spot anything that is amiss so be careful about the details. It pays to look neat, we promise!
Comfort is key
DO: Wear something you feel confident in.
DON’T: Sacrifice comfort for style.
Interview clothes should always feel comfortable no matter how formal you look. Remember, your presence should impress the interviewer so any obvious hint of discomfort detracts from this confident veneer. Create a capsule collection of looks you feel most confident in and you’ll have a line-up of interview outfits to choose from whenever the need arises.
Stick to timeless, versatile pieces and keep revealing pieces off the rack. Vikings actor Alexander Ludwig knows how to keep his cool and you should too. Classic pieces like a crisp white button-down, a versatile belt, and a black pantsuit are comfortable go-to pieces that should be forever present in your wardrobe.
Knowing how to dress up for a job interview is a crucial life skill everyone needs to nail. Who knows, maybe that power outfit just might help you seal the deal and get you that job you’ve always dreamed of! What’s your go-to outfit for a job interview? What other tips and tricks would you like to know about dressing up for an interview?
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