How to dress for a job interview

How to dress for a job interview.

Never judge a book by its cover. One rule that’s completely ignored come interview time.

According to business coach and author Richard Maun, interviewers make up 90% of their mind about a candidate in the first 90-seconds of an interview. Yes, your carefully prepared interview answers might show that you have the skills to succeed. But it’s the way you walk through the interview door that could just seal the deal.

Bottom line? First impressions count. What you wear to an interview matters.


Okay. So what should you wear to a job interview?

Aim to dress one-notch above the position you have applied for.

If you are interviewing for a field sales role where a shirt and tie will be required, wear a suit to your interview. Creative design agency? A smart shirt/top and a good pair of jeans/chinos will suffice. Applying for a role at a tattoo parlour or boutique clothing store? Express yourself with an outfit that’s a little more casual and creative.

Just remember: it’s always better to be too smart than not smart enough. Looking sharp is a potent confidence booster too.


What NOT to wear

No trainers. No tracksuits. No t-shirts.

You should also avoid patterns on your shirt, blouse, dress, tie or socks. You want to be remembered for your amazing answers, not your paisley print. For a look that’s smart and subtle, block colours are best.

Skirts should be no higher than a biro-length above the knee. And keep heels at a sensible height. You don’t know how far you’ll have to walk when you arrive at the office you are visiting. 7-flights of stairs in 7-inch heels? No thanks.

Oh and make sure your shoes are polished. Your interviewer will notice.

To the web browser!

Unsure of how formal to dress? A quick click around the www can work wonders. Scour LinkedIn profiles of company staff. Look for staff photos on the company website. Then dress one-notch smarter.

Still having kittens about your clothing? There’s no harm in emailing your interview contact to ask what attire would be most appropriate. That way you know for sure and can put your mind at rest.


What’s in a colour?

Everyone’s got a theory about what different colours communicate. Blue exudes calm and confidence. White represents truth and simplicity. Red symbolises energy and passion. Our tip is to skip the power-dressing theories and go with what feels comfortable and looks good. The only exception is suits, where it’s best to stick with the standard black, grey or dark blue. It’s an interview, not Saturday Night Fever.


To buy or not to buy?

Tried and trusted outfits trump buying new. So if you have something smart that you know you look great in, wear that. Check your clothes for wear and tear or dirty spots a week before your interview. And if you haven’t worn your outfit for a while, now’s the time to check that it still fits well.

If you can’t resist the temptation to shop for a new outfit, give it a proper road test a few days before your interview. New clothes are an unknown quantity. You don’t want to get to your interview only to realise that your new shirt/blouse is see-through or particularly unforgiving when it comes to sweat patches. Hey, you’re only human.


All set? Go for it!

Dressing well for an interview is about balance. You need to dress appropriately for the position, without giving up your identity. You need to feel confident as well as comfortable. And look smart as well as subtle.

In a job market where it’s not unusual for dozens of candidates to be interviewed for the same position, setting a flawless first impression is a great way to give yourself the edge on the rest. Over to you!

  • Aim to dress one-notch smarter than the position you have applied for
  • Too smart is better than not smart enough
  • Avoid bold patterns, block colours are best
  • Polish your shoes
  • Check existing clothes fit and are clean
  • Road test new outfits
  • Layout clothing the night before your interview