Interview dress code – what (not) to wear!

Ah, the good old days when things were easy and when turning up in a suit was always a safe bet… I blame ‘dress down Fridays’, it has all become so confusing from thereon in.

Now blokes, you’ll have to get in touch with your feminine side – and that doesn’t mean turning up for your interview dressed as Eddie Izzard…

And ladies, it ain’t that much easier for you – Power suit? Are trousers acceptable? Twin set? Dress? Skirt? Above the knee or below the knee?

What do you do?

The importance of making a good first impression gives weight to the argument that you need to carefully think about what you’re going to wear to that 1st interview (and also to the 2nd, 3rd and subsequent interviews, because you cannot turn up in the same outfit every time!).

Your safest bet is to try to find out the company’s dress code and the dress code of the person you’re meeting. Then copy whichever is the smartest dress.

If you do not know anyone who can give you reliable info on a company’s dress code, then phone switch board and ask how the directors are generally dressed. If you’re not sure about the response, then phone again at another time aiming to speak to a different receptionist.

Whilst we’re on the subject of dress code, have a think about your general appearance: hair, jewellery, piercings, tattoos et al.

My view is that generally you do not know the personal likes and dislikes of the person you’re meeting, therefore do not give them the opportunity to dismiss your candidature based on your appearance or first impression. Dress and present yourself within conservative boundaries. Take off excessive jewellery, take out your visible piercings (gents this includes your earrings), go to the hairdresser if you’re not sure that you can make your hairdo acceptable and cover up any tattoos if you can. Also, often forgotten: polish your shoes!

I may sound old fashioned and middle aged, but then again your interviewer might have old fashioned and conservative views. Just do not take a chance.

You may think that they should accept you as you are, however if you are not prepared to flex your style in order to make a good fit, then one could conclude that you are generally inflexible and come across as someone with a point to make. These tend not to be qualities that employers are looking for.

A suit isn’t always the right choice

I pitched for business once, where the client was a young lifestyle brand. I turned up in a suit and tie and could not convince them that I understood their brand and culture (even though I was a client and had been buying their clothes for some years – up until that point…).

A big lesson learned!

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