Dressing for the Interview

I recently had to interview prospective staff for the position of office manager. The biggest responsibility of this position was the complete management of all of the company’s financial affairs. The job description required someone who was neat, precise and orderly with a focus on accuracy and overall management skills. I was amazed at how poor the applicants’ standard of dress was. All of them appeared to be untidy, creased, scruffy and inappropriately dressed. My initial thought in meeting with these people was “I would not entrust the financial management of our company to someone who did not put any effort or care into the way they presented themselves”. My perception was that if they looked like that, how on earth could they run our office? There is a direct correlation in perception between how well a person dresses to how well they will be able to do the job. Their performance and their potential will be linked to their presentation. I did not employ any of these applicants because of the way they looked. Nothing they said in the interview could over-ride my first impression of them.

It is important to research the dress code of the organisation prior to your interview. If everybody dresses professionally then you should as well. If the dress code is slightly more relaxed make sure that what you are wearing looks comparitive to what other employees are wearing. The first impression you want to give your prospective employer is that you are professional and business like and that you will fit in with the company in terms of dress. Arrive looking like you already belong. Think of yourself as the unique product “you” and package yourself to sell yourself.

Interview Dressing for Women

You are going for a business interview, not a date, so dress as you would for business. Keep clothing simple, classical, coordinated and preferably of a darker colour. A skirt and jacket or a trouser suit is best. Wearing a plunging neckline or a hip-hugging skirt is inappropriate and sends the wrong signals. Definitely no lycra or bare midriff. Choose garments which flatter your figure, your personality, your colouring and style. Make sure undergarments do not show i.e. no VPL or no VBL.

Accessories:  These should complement what you are wearing. Wear closed in shoes that are clean and polished, with heels that are not worn down or scuffed. No thin, strappy sandals or spindly high heels. Take a slim briefcase that contains the minimum of papers not a bulging hand-bag or shopping bag. Keep glasses frames business-like. Do not wear sunglasses inside or as a hair-band.

Jewellery:  Should be minimal, small ear-rings, a watch, and wedding ring if applicable. Do not wear junk jewellery; certainly no chandelier earrings. If your ears are pierced just wear one set of earrings.

Hair:  Should be clean and well-groomed. If your hair is long wear it tied back or up. Make sure there is no re-growth showing if your hair is coloured. Short hair should be neatly styled.

Makeup:  Should enhance your face and personality.  Avoid an “over made up” look. Black nail polish, iridescent eye-shadow, and purple lipstick are inappropriate for a job interview unless it is for a waitress in a Gothic restaurant.

Grooming:  Do not wear perfume as it can be overpowering. However, check that you smell fresh and clean, no body odour. Manicured nails with pale natural polish. Make sure that all clothing is cleaned and pressed. Wear pantyhose with a skirt, or knee-highs under trousers, ensure they have no runs. Have a lint remover / clothes brush handy to remove fluff or hairs prior to the interview.

Interview Dressing for Men

Suits:  If you are applying for a job in any professional field you will need a suit for the interview. It should be well-fitting, conservative and of a style that suits your body shape. Black, charcoal, or dark navy are great colours for a business suit. Hired suits may be an option as they can be altered to fit you. Your belt should be plain and match the colour of your trousers and shoes. Coordinate your suit with your shirt and tie.
If you are applying for a position in a trade, a non professional position or in a creative field e.g. advertising, you would be better to dress in a more casual style in trousers, collared shirt, and jacket.

Shirts and Ties:  Preferably keep your shirt light in colour, long-sleeved and well-fitting with the sleeve cuffs showing at the wrist. Do not wear a black shirt or a hot pink one. Keep your tie conservative but wear one that reflects your personality and your style.

Shoes and Socks: Shoes should be clean, polished and not scuffed. Match socks and shoe colour. Make sure your socks are long enough so that no bare leg shows when you cross your legs. If you are wearing brown trousers your shoes and socks should be brown also.

Jewellery:  Keep jewellery to a minimum i.e. a wedding ring, and a watch. If you have any facial piercing it would be better to leave this out for the interview.

Hair:  It is a good idea to have a haircut before you go to a job interview. Make sure your hair is cleaned and combed. If your hair is long, tie it back. Any facial hair should be neatly trimmed. Do not wear a cap.

Grooming:  It is to your advantage to present yourself in the best possible light. Use a clothes brush / lint roller to get rid of fluff, hairs or dandruff. Empty your pockets of pens, combs, bulging wallets or notebooks; you should depict cool, calm, professionalism. Make sure nails are clipped and clean. Do not wear sunglasses on your head. No body odour; if you perspire heavily, try to have a shower just before the interview. It is better to wear no cologne at all; if you do make sure it is understated, not overpowering.

General Tips
Interviews can be a nerve racking experience.  It is natural to be a little tense. Try to convert this nervousness into a positive power. Go for a walk or listen to some relaxation tapes prior to the interview. A great smile and a confident air will be the finishing touch of your presentation. Check that your teeth are clean and that it is not apparent that you had a spinach roll with garlic for lunch. Use a breath spray or mints to freshen breath.

Good Luck!!!

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