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Dressing for an interview — what should you wear?

It’s tough looking for a change of job. Often juggling applications alongside your current job and a social life. When you do get invited for an interview, they’re often short notice and soon come around — leaving you with little time to decide what to wear. Follow our top tips to find out how to dress for each type of interview:

When you’re invited for a casual interview

A casual interview is usually one that is for an unpaid position or at a charity for example. For these interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing.

Women

It’s often more than acceptable to simply dress how you feel comfortable. To ensure you still look presentable, you should avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of slacks or jeans.

These types of interviews are usually quite relaxed. Don’t worry too much about what’s on your feet. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels.

Men

Naturally, you want to look casual but don’t overdo it. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but similar to our advice for women, steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these will not give off the best impression. A safe option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket.

When you’re invited for a business casual interview

If you’re not going for an unpaid position, it’s most likely that you’ll be asked to dress business casual. This may be because they have this dress code in the office or it may be for an assessment day where you are expected to be there all day and recruiters want you to feel comfortable. If you are unsure what to wear, it’s best to dress too formally rather than too casually to avoid giving off the wrong impression.

Women

You can still let your style shine through in a business casual outfit. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in.

Or, opt for a smart shirt with a wide collar under a jumper. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket.

Men

Business casual for men often means that a shirt is compulsory but you will want to avoid a full suit or tuxedo! Why not opt for a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased, but this is avoided through the non-iron garment.

It’s advised that you don’t wear a polo shirt or jeans as this can be seen as overly casual.

When you’re invited for a professional interview

It’s a good idea to dress formal for a professional interview. These interviews could be in front of directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship. You want to look your best here; your appearance certainly counts, and with the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles.

Women

Have you thought about wearing a suit? When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel.

Men

For a professional interview, a suit is usually a good idea. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style, a slim leg may be best suited for you and your shape.

What to avoid

If you look smart and feel comfortable, it’s likely you’re doing well. However, there are a few things that you should avoid:

  • Too much perfume or aftershave.
  • Too much jewellery or makeup.

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