What you wear to an interview can be equally as important as what you say, the wardrobe choices you make a silent statement to your interviewer. You could answer every question perfectly and be ideal for the position but don’t forget…
THIS IS A COMPETITION!
If other candidates match you point for point then appearance could be the deciding factor between an offer or a rejection.
Interviewing is one of the many responsibilities in my management role. In my career thus far as an applicant I’ve attended eleven interviews in person and taken two over the phone with an 85% success rate.
As an interviewer I’ve conducted over fifty in the past twelve months at a hire rate of 40%. According to my HR associate I have the most rigorous screening process as well as being the most difficult manager (out of the six of us) to impress.
Read on to find my guidelines and advice on how you can dress to impress at an interview.
-Wear low cut tops, very short skirts, or show chest hair.
Personally I prefer not to have cleavage thrust in my face in any situation, definitely not during an interview. Maybe it’s wrong but I instantly wonder whether they thought ‘boosting their physical assets’ would have any bearing on the interview’s success. This goes equally for men with open buttoned shirts.
Insulting to both myself and the applicant but there it is…
If you do dress this way for an interview then Congratulations! You’ve probably just made your interviewer uncomfortable, self-conscious and therefore distracted as well as undermining your own intelligence.
-Wear facial piercings or have tattoos on show if you know the position you are applying for frowns on it.
I’m all for body art, I have piercings and tattoos of my own. Dress code regulations have slowly changed over the years in my workplace to include the allowance of facial piercings, tattoos, rainbow coloured hair, nail art and jewellery.
It’s true that choices like these have no impact on one’s ability to do a job BUT we live in a time where many folks, especially the upper classes and older generations still view them negatively.
As an employer, whether I like that skull tattoo on your arm or not, I need to consider whether all of my customers will find you approachable and reliable, it’s not a personal opinion or even one I agree with but it is an outsider’s perception I have to consider.
If you choose your outfit for appearance only it will reflect in your body language. You might walk differently, sit differently and generally come across as uncomfortable or twitchy. You’ll be distracted and the interviewer could view that as disinterest.
I’m not saying throw your trainers on and wear your cosiest sweater, but if your clothes don’t fit or your shoes are uncomfortable it could effect your behaviour and/or body language in noticeable ways.
-Try your clothes on before hand
Some people have a go-to outfit for interviews, occasionally these are outdated and therefore very easy to identify. If yours has been sitting in the wardrobe for years then for god sakes dust it off, wash it, iron it and check it fits!
From an appearance aspect there are several ways to display your individuality in a subtle manner if you need to maintain a formal dress code.
Accessorize in a personal but minimal way with choices of jewellery, ties, coats, bags, shoes, hairstyles, cosmetics or stationery. I don’t recommend using all of the above as it can become distracting so do try and stick to a colour palette and/or theme where possible.
If you can use these items to convey a link between yourself and the job you are applying for, bonus points to you! (i.e a corresponding charity pin, branded stationery, company colours).
Bring a good note book and a decent pen (but not a clicky one!) & keep your documents in a file or folder
All of these can be chosen to portray your personality. Unfolding a crumpled copy of a CV from your jacket pocket or digging around in the crumbs of your handbag for a business card is not ideal.
Attend an interview wearing your current workwear or uniform.
Most employers understand that time is valuable, maybe you’ve had to arrange the meeting immediately before/after work or even during a lunch break. As long as you aren’t rocking up in a clown outfit or a food stained apron I personally take no issue, though it’s preferable not to do this unless you absolutely must as you’ll lose a chance to evidence more of your own personality.
Feel free to ask questions or tweet your interview outfits to @anaveragelife88.
I’m going to leave you here with five sights I’ve seen whilst interviewing…
Notebook and matching pen with the C*** word emblazoned on them
Stained shirt cuffs at 9am, maybe food? Hopefully not snot?
Headphones wrapped around their neck for the entire interview duration.
Ridiculously high heels and steep stairs resulting in a twisted ankle.
Swastika tattoo peeking out from a shirt sleeve.
DISCLAIMER **The advice given isn’t always manageable for all candidates for a range of circumstances, please do not be discouraged by any points you don’t find achievable.
As an interviewer I am fully trained in discrimination law and hope that all workers in this position of power would be.
The points I’ve raised are either my opinions or my own understanding of others views. They are intended to maximise your chances of successfully gaining the employment you seek, certainly not an exhaustive list and not always applicable to your chosen industry. You may think some represent an outdated view but in a lot of areas these old-fashioned notions still prevail.**