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Don’t Mess Up Your Big Day: 8 Interview Attire Do’s and Don’ts

interview attire dos donts

Knowing which clothes to wear to an interview has become a little tricky; the classic suit is not always the right choice.

Take the time to consider the culture of the company you are applying to and match your attire accordingly – the success of your interview may hinge on it.

You are confident about what you are going to say, now take a few moments to work on what you are going to wear. First impressions count – what you are wearing or not wearing will provide the interviewer with some insight into who you are and signal whether you are a good fit for the company. While it is personality and skills that really matter, your appearance is the first thing your interviewer will notice so make sure your attire reflects your professionalism, ambitions and suitability for the job.

Just how important are clothes? JFK’s victory against Nixon in 1960 was (at least in part) attributed to JFK’s attire on the first televised debate. JFK looked dapper in a striking dark blue suit, that gave him the greater gravitas, while Nixon wore a grey suit that faded with him into the background. Interview success relies on confidence – your clothes should imbue you with confidence – you don’t want to be distracted by worries or discomfort from ill-fitted clothing. Your focus should be on the interview and a poor choice of garments could draw away your attention or worse the interviewers.

Here are the Top Interview Attire Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Wardrobe outdated? First interview in some years? Do invest in some fashion forward business attire.
  • Do Have a dress rehearsal. Do test wear your outfit – make sure you are comfortable sitting, walking and standing in it.
  • Do get your outfit ironed and dry cleaned – have your clothing looking as polished and professional as you are.
  • Don’t overdo the cologne and perfume. Many people are sensitive or even allergic to scents and it will be the first thing that greets the interviewer – when it should be a good handshake and eye contact.
  • Do accessorize – jewelry and accessories offer a way to express your self – but keep the bling to a minimum. Pay attention to the details, wear a smart belt – nothing too bedazzling. Think smart, no tacky ties from auntie Flo from Christmas.
  • Do splurge on a power suit. It will pay for itself.
  • Grooming – the aim here is to look tidy and refreshed. Do wear make-up that makes you feel your best, but is not overpowering – best keep to natural shades.
  • Do polish your shoes. Take a tip from British royals on this one, don’t show off your toes.

Your interview outfit should be tailored to the job you are applying for – the old adage dress to impress is still relevant. Carefully plan your outfit to fit your prospective company’s dress code. The black suit might not work for the startup style – which is typically casual (think smart jeans and shirt). A poor choice of suit would signal you don’t fit in or you don’t understand the company culture. No matter the organization you should look neat, tidy and well-dressed.

Finding out the company’s dress code before the interview is a good idea. If in doubt, check the social media pages of the company to find out their style. Politicians notoriously spend good money on advice for what to wear to win over the voters, there is no doubt what we wear has persuasive power. As Matt Damon’s character (a politician) in the film The Adjustment Bureau explains; “This tie was selected for me by a group of specialists, in Tenafly New Jersey, who chose it over fifty six other ties we tested. In fact, our data suggests that I have to stick to either a tie that is red or a tie that is blue. A yellow tie made it look as if I was taking my situation lightly and I may in fact pull my pants down at any moment.” It is worth your time doing a little research on what to wear for your upcoming interview.

Also read: 5 Things to do The Day Before an Interview

What you wear should complement who you are and not detract from what you have to say, wear something you are comfortable in and is work appropriate. Dress for the position you want and continue to dress to impress. Look professional and you will feel the part. My 2 year old puts on ballet clothes and in an instant she embodies her inner ballerina and is all business. Wearing the right clothes can give you the edge you may need to land the job.

Everyone knows you have to walk the walk and talk the talk but you can’t do it naked.

About the Author

Tatiana Compton is a freelance journalist who has covered accountancy and finance in both the UK and US.