Interviews : What To Wear

< Career & Interview Advice From The OnlineLearning.Zone Team >

Got The Interview... But What Should I Wear?

So far, so good... They liked the CV, and want to meet you...

Now it's time to show them what you're made of! Hopefully you know your stuff and can say the right words, (see Typical Interview Questions) but do you look the part?

Sad but true: Researchers tell us that what you say at interview will only account for 7% of the impact you make. This means your friendly interviewers are sub-consciously basing 93% of how they feel about you on how you say it, (see Good Communication) and what you look like. The good news is you don't need to look as if you've just come off a fashion shoot to tick all the right boxes - follow a few simple rules and look forward to that good news call.

Plan Ahead...

The ideal dress code for interview is just a little bit smarter than the standard employee attire for the company. If you have a chance to get a sneak preview (hang around the place at lunch time and look), then do. If not, make a friendly call to the receptionist or HR department and say something like, "I wonder if you can help me. I'm coming for a job interview with Mr Tom Jackson and I want to make a good impression. What dress code would you recommend is best?"

Never Dress Down For A Professional Interview...

Use common sense depending on the job, but if you're not sure a dark suit or smart jacketed separates will always fit the bill. If money's tight, you can get away with a cheaper suit (as long as it fits well) dressed up with a smart shirt and tie for the guys or an interesting accessory for the girls.

Obviously there are interview situations when a suit or jacket & tie isn't appropriate, and it's always worthwhile scoping out the company beforehand, to see if they have a more relaxed dress-code. Many creative companies for instance operate very informal dress policies. But this doesn't mean to say that you shouldn't make an effort. Always dress a 'level-up'; so even if it's a more casual approach, you look smart.

Always remember; it's better to be a little over-dressed than under-dressed.

Common Gaffes For Guys

  • Get the polish out. If your shoes look as if they'd be more at home on the football pitch than in the office, all you'll score is an own goal. Shiny shoes will help your interviewer picture you in the role.
  • Don't smell of last night's Donor Kebab, or for that matter have a little splodge of it on your tie. Clean, tidy clothes and hair are essential to present the right image, as is fresh breath that's smoke and garlic free. Check your suit doesn't smell of stale smoke from when you last wore it at your best mates wedding.
  • Stubble or smooth? Facial hair used to be a big no-no, but most bosses now view it as acceptable in business. If you go for the stubble though, spend more time grooming, not less, as untidy beards and hidden mouths are still a barrier to communication. Major on the deodorant, but hold back on the aftershave.
  • Lose the piercings. A hole in the lip/ear/nose is better than a piece of metal as far as your future boss is concerned – at least it shows you've made an effort. We'd also recommend covering any visible tattoos where possible.

Common Gaffes For Girls

  • Don't flash the flesh. Keep the bare midriffs, plunging necklines and short skirts for a Saturday night out.
  • Slap on the lippy or back to nature? At the risk of offending the sisterhood, what we can say is that research suggests that women who wear subtle make-up earn 23% more than the bare-faced gals. Eyes and lips play a major role in communication, (see Good Interview Communication) and the right make-up emphasises these features. Overdo it though, and it'll be more rock-chick baby than IT professional.
  • Max the girl power! We're not suggesting 80's shoulder pads here, but to avoid coming across as less powerful than male colleagues, keep jewellery to a minimum, wear well-tailored more formal clothes and only subtle perfume.
  • As with the boys, the interview room is not the best place to show off your favourite tattoos and piercings. Small earrings are acceptable for females, but keep them down to one per ear, and only on the lobe.
  • Basically what we're saying is don't let anything distract your interviewer from wanting to offer you the job. You've worked hard to get this far, so let your prospective employer see your skills and core values, not a fashion statement that could be a career minefield.
FREE : IT Certification & Career Training Guide