Dress Code For An Interview

Demonstrating respect for the dress code for an interview is our first opportunity to impress our interviewer; we are judged on how we are turned out immediately. Your interview attire should reflect your sleek, polished persona.

Whilst adhering to the dress codes for an interview will not solely secure you the job, used in conjunction with good interview skills it should add the final finishing touch to convince the interviewers that you are the right woman for the position.

Your interpersonal skills, ability to articulate well and responses to the questions are of course the most important elements, but your clothes play a very strong supporting role.

The words we speak and the clothes we wear all add up to create our image; together they send out a message to others about how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. They reflect our attitudes towards the interview process and the type of industry that we wish to become employed in.

Like all good etiquette and manners, adhering to the dress code for an interview means your clothes should go pretty much unnoticed; the image you should leave with your interviewers is one of clean, neat and well-fitting clothes. In other words you should look “together”.

Do you need to wear a suit?

Dressing well for an interview also means dressing appropriately for your particular industry.

Even if you are aware that employees of an organisation dress casually on the job, you should still dress up for the interview e.g. a suit, unless you are told specifically otherwise by the employer.

If in any doubt e.g. you are concerned that they would frown upon a suit, then it is fine to ask the potential employer directly and politely as to the correct dress code for your interview.

A two piece matched suit is the most appropriate attire for a formal business interview: Colour should be black, brown, navy or dark grey.

A solid or very subtle weave pattern or plaid in a wool, wool blend or high quality blend with synthetics.

Trousers should be creased and tailored, not tight or flowing.

Skirts should not be above the knee – sit in front of a mirror before you purchase a skirt so that you can see what the interviewer sees. High slits are not appropriate; a small back or centre slit is acceptable.

Blouse/Sweater – wear a tailored blouse under the suit which co-ordinates nicely. An alternative to a blouse is a good quality knit. Either way it is very important not to show any cleavage. The lines of the blouse collar should complement and co-ordinate with the line of the jacket lapel or shape. It should be made of good quality natural fabric, like silk or cotton, and it should not be sheer or revealing.

How to accessorize your outfit

Any jewellery or accessories should be simple and conservative; avoid extreme styles and colour and ensure you stick to real gold or silver; pearls are also suitable. Ensure earrings do not extend much beyond the lobe and wear only one ring per hand, only one earring per ear and no tongue, nose or eyebrow piercings.

Shoes should be closed-toe pumps/court shoes and in solid dark blue or black leather to match your suit. The heels should be of a conservative height of 2.5" or less and should be well polished.

Hosiery should be plain (no patterns) and with neutral colours to match your suit; always take a spare pair with you in case of a run. Bare legs are a no-no at any time of year.

If you carry a briefcase then keep your handbag small and neat; avoid anything that looks like a beach tote or partyish. Leather is the best option for both but fine woven or fibre is acceptable. An alternative to a briefcase is a leather portfolio.

Regardless of your budget, everything must be clean, well pressed and should fit well. This is by far the most important aspect of your outfit. A new expensive designer suit is not necessary!

Personal Grooming

Your personal grooming standards go hand in hand with your job interview attire: whether the dress code for an interview is formal or casual the following grooming rules should be adhered to:

  • Hair freshly washed and neat.
  • Make Up should be worn but stay neutral.
  • Nails should be clean and neat, avoid bright colours and acrylics. In my experience nails are fine in the classic colours of natural pink, french manicured or a classic red, as long as they are short and with absolutely no chips.
  • Perfume should be worn sparingly.
  • Shoes should be polished.
  • Ensure heels and toes do not need repairing.
  • No missing buttons, no lint and no fluff on any clothing.
  • Cover any tattoos.
  • Use a breath mint before you enter the interview.

What about Changes in Fashion?

Basic professional dress doesn’t really change with fashion and a good quality skirt or trouser suit should last 3 years if you care for it.

Of course, fashion does change things like the cut of trousers, the width of lapels and the colour of blouses so it is important to ensure your clothes are not dated.

Other Dress Code Etiquette on this Site:

Black Tie Dress Code

Glove Etiquette

Cocktail Dress Code

Royal Ascot Dress Code

Funeral Dress Etiquette

Diamonds for Different Occasions

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About The Author

The Author, Emma Dupont, runs various courses in London during the year.

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