What to wear to an interview

What to wear to an interview - decisions

If you’re wondering what to wear to an interview, you’re right to give it some thought. First impressions are incredibly important. Scientists have shown that when a person makes a bad first impression, the negative feelings are harder to overcome than when something less positive happens after ties are established. Choosing the right outfit is an important part of making a good first impression. So what should you wear to a job interview?

What to wear to an interview: Men

Men - what to wear to an interviewMen should wear a clean, well fitting black, dark grey or navy suit, white shirt and plain coloured tie. A good example is this gorgeous classic two button suit from Reiss (pictured right). It has notch lapels, four internal pockets, slanted flap pockets and a welt breast pocket on the front.  The jacket is half-lined and has side vents for extra comfort and wearability.  Reiss provides the suit trousers come in one length with an unfinished hem that can be tailored to your preference, which can be done in any of their stores for a small fee.

If £395 is a bit out of your budget, check out Burton’s range of tailored suits.  They look good, offer good quality and value for money.

When choosing a tie, stick to plain, conservative colours and avoid patterns or prints.  Make sure your shoes are clean and match your outfit – we love the brown loafers combo with this navy suit.

Finally, as you’ll be taking a copy of your CV and perhaps other documents (examples of work, references, etc), make sure you either have a folder or suitable bag to carry them in.  A black zipped folio is ideal.

What to wear to an interview - womanWhat to wear to an interview: Women (skirts vs. trousers?)

A lot of women wonder which is the right choice.

The answer is, choose an outfit that you feel comfortable in, and that allows you to be “remembered for your skills and not your clothing” (Princeton University Career Services).

“You want the interviewer to focus on you and not what you’re wearing” (Goldman Sachs recruiter).

Unless you’re applying for a position at Hooters, a short skirt – or indeed an outfit that’s provocative in some other way – is like to be inappropriate and may well work against you.

This gorgeous long blazer with tapered trousers pictured left from Next is a favourite.  The shorter trousers with heels give the suit an updated look but the overall impression is still conservative and professional.

Keep accessories simple and colours formal, with nail polish and hair styling conservative. This is the professional image that an interview requires.

Don’t be tempted to wear killer stilettos – not only will you struggle to walk in them but they can give the wrong impression – that you’re more concerned with appearance than practicality, which is not a message you want to give out in an interview!

If you want to wear heels, thicker (block) heels will work better with the look.

If you’re very tall, consider that some people find height intimidating, particularly at a first meeting. Stick to flats and pull out the heels when you’ve landed the job!

Wondering what not to wear to an interview? Here’s a list of interview no-nos:

  • Flip-flops/trainers
  • Visible underwear (bras, bra straps, pants, boxers, etc)
  • Shorts
  • Short skirts (per the above)
  • Trousers that are too low or too tight
  • Low cut or short tops (per the above)
  • Piercings – people have different views on this but you may want to consider removing any unusual piercings
  • Overpowering perfume or aftershave
  • Excessive jewellery or eccentric accessories
  • A backpack (choose a smart bag or briefcase instead)
  • Quirky / bright / patterned or odd socks
  • Creased or dirty clothes or footwear – this shows a lack of care
  • Your tags, if you’ve just bought a new outfit!

Consider the time of year too – for example (fellas), a long sleeve shirt, lined waistcoat and lined jacket may look classy but if your interview is mid-summer, expect to sit through your interview dripping in sweat!

What to wear to an interview – more guides: