The Dos and Donts of dressing for a job interview

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Article courtesy of CPL

‘What should I wear?’ is a question every candidate will ask before an interview. Even if you’ve been through numerous successful interview processes, you will find yourself questioning your clothing choices. Part of the problem is that there is no hard and fast rule for what you should wear to an interview. Every interview is a different experience and you would be expected to wear very different attire to an interview with a digital marketing agency than you would for an accounting job.

While there are no hard and fast rules, there are a few guidelines to follow.

Do think about what to wear

Firstly, do think about it. How you appear on the day will, rightly or wrongly, affect how an interviewer sees you. It is important to dress appropriately, so make sure you have something picked out ahead of time. That will at least mean you have one less decision to make on the day of the interview.

Don’t worry about it

It’s also important that you don’t overthink it. There is no need to go out and get a new outfit for every new interview; you just need to choose something appropriate. Ideally you want to wear something that makes you look professional but is instantly forgotten once you start talking about yourself.

Do dress for the occasion

It is important that you ‘dress up’ for the interview. You should look like you fit in but also wear something that shows that you see the interview as important. A good rule of thumb is to dress one ‘better’ than the usual office attire at the new employer. If they wear jeans every day, a pair of slacks and shirt and tie will suffice; but if they ear shirts and ties every day you should wear a suit.

Don’t overdress

This one ‘better’ guideline is especially important in helping you to avoid overdressing. While it won’t necessarily lose you the job, if you overdress too much you might stand out too much. This is your only opportunity to make a first impression. That impression shouldn’t be that you don’t fit in.

Do work on looking good

Overdressing is not the same as putting a little extra effort into make-up, shaving, closing the top button on your shirt, etc. Without acknowledging it consciously, employers ill look favourably on interviewees who are smart and well-dressed. If you appear dishevelled or untidy, they will assume you are careless or uninterested in the role.

Don’t be distracting

The big dangers are overdoing it to the point that a certain facet of your look is distracting. Too much make-up, excessive jewellery, strong aftershave and over-elaborate hairstyles are all factors that shouldn’t affect a job interview, but they often do. The problem is that interviewers are only human and if something about you is particularly distracting it may be difficult for them to focus on what you are saying. If they can’t remember why you’re a good fit for the job, how can they hire you?