It’s all about those first 30 seconds. You’ve read our 5 Top Tips about job interviews you have never heard, now you need to make sure that when you walk into that room you look just like the person they want to hire.
Shallow? Should looks define you? We’re not talking about beauty or body, we are talking about attention to detail, self awareness, presentation skills and self esteem. The interviewers will have an idea of whether you will fit in based on what you wear and how you wear it on that important day.
What you choose will show that you have researched the company culture. You need to decide, one, whether you think you will like working for that company and two, what would be appropriate to wear.
1. Suited and booted
Cut, colour and clean lines are important here. Everything should be well ironed, crisp, and conservative. Darker colours are your safest option but black from head to toe might appear somewhat funerial. Make sure your shoes are polished, your handbag is not the size of cabin baggage and your tie is neither too jazzy or too dull. Would it be subtle to mirror the corporate brand colour in some muted shade?
If you applying for a job in a more formal company in the city, and have some time, and wanted to be really prepared, a top tip would be to go to a café in a strategic location close to similar companies. Sitting at the window seat will allow you to watch what men and women are wearing and how they wear it.
2. Relaxed and casual
Not scruffy, not worn out, not ripped. Yes, all of those might be the look that fits the company, and the current staff are wearing that look, but this is an interview. You can mirror the look but in a more “dressed up” version.
Make sure that you don’t go in with lots of “stuff”. Handbags, satchels, coats, scarves, newspapers, and multiple devices all detract the eye of the interviewers away from you.
If you need to show examples of your work, or give a presentation, make sure it is all kept neatly inside something like a folder so you don’t lose it or crumple it. Dropping all your important work in a comedy fumble in reception will destroy all your composure and cool.
3. Confident and comfortable
It’s important that whichever type of job you are going for you need to make sure that you feel confident and comfortable in what you are wearing. There is no sense in wearing an outfit that is so completely different to who you are that it means you will not perform at your best. In fact, if the most appropriate combination of outfit is completely not you then it might be that the job isn’t for you either.
4. Outfit disasters
Creased clothes – this gives the impression that you left things too late and you are not good at time management.
Skirts that are too short – suggests you are not able to judge professional situations. Remember short skirts become even shorter when you sit down.
Clothes that are too tight – this indicates that you are not good at detail. You need to be able to look in the mirror and critically review how your choice looks to other people.
Showing too much flesh specifically cleavage – you might not have noticed because this is how you normally dress but at work you need to consider your boss, your colleagues and your clients.
Wearing too much make up – keep it simple. Make up is hard to get right at the best of times but finding a balance to fit the company culture is essential. Another consideration is that if you are wearing a lot of make it might need touching up and you will need to be sure that there will be an opportunity to do it before the interview. No guarantees of course – keep it simple.
If you are wearing a suit you need to keep the jacket on at all times even if other staff do not. The act of removing your jacket suggests that you might be over confident or a little too relaxed. You have chosen to wear a suit because it is a “complete” outfit. If you remove the jacket you are breaking the lines and the message.
Shoes are important too. Scruffy shoes are a serious no, no. Wearing heels that are too high is also not a good idea. Unless you can glide like you are on a catwalk your posture and even your speed will let you down.
5. Consider your budget
You are either looking for a job or have one already and are looking for a new one. It is likely that you will need to buy something new, either a total outfit or bits that are missing or need matching.
Set yourself a budget. If you are only applying for one particular business sector, and in roughly the same type of role, then you will begin to know what works and what everyone in that company is wearing.
You can’t spend a fortune but you can be judicious in what you choose. Ties are important for men and there is no magic solution. There shouldn’t ever be a time when a dull, dreary colour should be the best option but primary colours will never work. Shirts should be immaculately ironed and not tired.
A good haircut can be expensive but again, it’s not just the outfit, your hair needs to fit the company culture as well. A no. 2 buzz cut or bright pink temporary colour might not be right for the suited and booted brand. If you are applying for lots of jobs at the same time, particularly if you have just graduated and this is your first job, investing in a good cut and a good style would be worth the outlay whichever business sector you are considering.
Beard? Make sure it is perfect.
Remember those all important 90 seconds and remember to check our 5 Top Tips to prepare for an interview that you have never heard before.
We can thank our friends at Bain & Gray, a boutique recruitment agency in London, for their expert advice on how to excel in a job interview. They value the advanced skills our graduates have and are keen to put them forward for their best jobs.
Oxford Media & Business School teach all the workplace skills that employers are looking for. Landing that job is increasingly competitive and candidates need something extra. Graduates with the Professional Business Diploma ensure they leave with amazing employability skills, a powerful CV, experience at job interviews and links to a large alumni network in all business sectors.