How important is it to be dressed ‘right‘ for an interview?


Do interviewers pay attention to what the candidate says or to what they wear? What is professional & what is casual. What is right & what is wrong? How do I make a good first impression? These are questions that most candidates attending interviews have.

 Our guest writer Ciara who represents Quintessentially People shares some useful advice on dressing for an interview. 

Research the company culture

You should already be doing this in order to ace the interview itself, but it can also inform how you dress. Is your prospective job one where a suit and tie is the norm? Or is the company more laid back? Knowing the answers to questions such as these can ensure that you look as if you’re a good fit for the company from the moment you walk in the building. It is always important to dress for the position you are being interviewed for – if you are applying for a corporate role, ensure you are dressed formal and smartly. However, if you are applying for a more practical position such as childcare or household staff – you should ensure you look well polished but are dressed appropriately to engage in the role.

Dress a level up

Once you know the informal company dress code, choose an outfit that is a step above its normal work attire. Find a look that matches the feel of the company, but also shows that you truly care about the job. A smart look lets interviewers know that you know the game, and are willing to play hard in order to work for them.

When in doubt, ask

Oftentimes when setting an interview, you’ll have the opportunity to inquire about a dress code. Always take it. Though it must always be taken with a grain of salt, the opinion of a company insider is invaluable, as they have firsthand experience with the company. Even better if you are given the opportunity to ask the interviewer directly.

Keep clothing conservative

Neon colours and loud prints may make a memorable statement, but it’s difficult to ensure the statement is a positive one. Solid colours are best, ideally in shades that complement your skin tone. The fit should be comfortable as well. Too loose or too tight, and you may spend more time focused on your clothes than you do on your interviewer. If you are uncomfortable in your outfit it will show and give a negative impression to your potential employer.

Iron everything

This statement may be a bit over-exaggerated, but more and more job candidates seem to be foregoing irons in recent years. Don’t be one of them. If your outfit includes a pair of slacks, a blouse, a jacket, or any other item that holds wrinkles, make sure they are properly pressed and fresh. If you are applying for a client-facing role, your interviewer will pay observe your attention to detail.

Don’t forget the footwear

Nothing ruins the perfect interview outfit quite as effectively as a pair of worn or mismatched shoes. Ensure they are polished – very important. Corporate roles will require formal shoes, and for those hands-on style roles, invest in a quality pair of loafers or power flats that are both conservative and comfortable. Closed-toe is best, regardless of the season.

 Limit the number of accessories you wear

People have a tendency to equate increased numbers of accessories with increased formality. Don’t fall victim to this assumption. Flashy jewellery or overstated belts and glasses distract interviewers, instead of allowing them to focus on you. A nice watch, a belt that matches your shoes and a pair of gold or silver earrings for women should be all you need to compliment your look.

 Clean cut is key

Grooming is an important sign of character for many interviewers. If you haven’t had a hair trimmed in a while, make sure to do so. Men, make sure to shave neatly and keep your facial hair tidy. Nails should also be clean and trimmed. Women should avoid boisterous colours and choose a neutral shade of varnish.

Skip the fragrance

Each person has different preferences when it comes to perfumes and colognes, and you have no way of knowing what may put your interviewer off. Best to set it aside. If you must, use just a touch. Better that it go unnoticed than be overpowering.

Ladies, keep the make-up conservative

As with most things when dressing for an interview, less is more. A concealer, loose powder, a bit of lipstick, and a touch of mascara at minimum is enough to ensure a professional look that doesn’t distract. Stick to neutral colours, as looking natural is key. You want the interviewer to remember your qualifications, not your bright red lipstick.

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