What to Wear at Your Interview

Your appearance may not seem relevant in your interview, but a recent study in the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management has found that dressing smartly subconsciously communicates confidence and success.

It’s a question our consultants at Maxwell Stephens are often asked and here is what we tell our candidates. It’s true – it’s much easier for men as there is an expectation of a suit and a tie. For women, it’s not so easy so we write more from a female perspective in this article.

It is true that first impressions count for something, and you want to make the best possible impression at your interview. Give yourself the best chance for success and prepare in advance.

What is suitable?

This depends on the workplace you’re interviewing for. Corrine Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management, recommends you “echo the ‘in-house’ style” for your interview. Interviewers want to see that you will fit in with the rest of the company.

Conservative companies, like law firms and banks, tend to have a very formal style. More creative companies tend to be more relaxed. Searching the company website for photos of employees may help.

Some (interesting) people choose to hang around outside the business at the end of the day to check what the staff are wearing. Alternatively, you could simply call the HR department and ask for the dress code for the interview.

Ordinarily, the dress code will be either business attire, or business casual.

If you’re unable to find out the dress code in time, its generally best to err on the side of caution and opt for business attire. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘you can never be overdressed or overeducated’, and you don’t want to be the only candidate in skinny jeans.

Colours?

Keep your colours neutral and muted. Neon and flowers may be more your style, but anything that distracts from your personality or CV in the interview is to be avoided.

A splash of colour, a handbag or tie, is acceptable to add a bit of your own personality. Do not wear more than 3 colours in your outfit to your interview. Coordinated, well put-together outfits will make you appear organised.

For suits, for men or women, stick to navy, black or grey.

Something old? Something new?

If your business attire hasn’t seen daylight since the late 90s (or at least looks that way), it may be wise to invest in some new kit.

Don’t risk being another interviewee in an oversized, shapeless, granddad suit. Aiming for a more contemporary style than a classic look will create the impression of energy and creativity. Stick to tailored pieces, made of good quality materials.

That said, it is inadvisable to wear brand new clothes to your interview. You should feel relaxed and comfortable. This also protects you against any little surprises; like forgotten labels hanging from your back, or hemlines riding up without warning.

The most important thing?

Your interview isn’t a fashion show, so – unless you are going for a modelling job – the most important thing is that you are clean, pressed, and presentable. If you feel confident, you will have a much better chance of succeeding.

Try to be plan ahead and prepare for your interview in all aspects. Of course, you can always call our team of exquisitely-turned-out fashion victims here at Maxwell Stephens on 0207 118 48 48 or email us at info@maxwellstephens.com.