There used to be a time when going to an interview meant dusting off (or buying) a suit. For men this would mean a tie and for ladies it was all about the formal blouse and heeled shoes (not too high, mind). Of course the cut of the suit may have changed over the years, but for decades the suit ruled supreme. However, there are some who are saying that the formal suit may have had it’s day – that it is perhaps too stuffy and formal and that it doesn’t reflect the style and attitude of modern Britain. So, has the business suit become passé, or is it still the only real option when it comes to making the right impression?
Truth be told, the business suit still has its place as the go-to choice for interview – particularly in corporate roles such as finance or law. As a rule of thumb, if you will need to wear a suit for work then you ought to wear one for interview.
However, what about more relaxed businesses – which generally means more creative roles or new media – what do you wear for interview when a suit is not the popular attire at work?
In places where a more casual dress code is in operation you might want to dress down slightly. This doesn’t mean wearing jeans and trainers, but where the staff are in t-shirt, perhaps look towards a more ‘business casual’ look. Dress above the expectations for the job, but there is no need to look like you are going to a black-tie dinner party or court!
For men, instead of a suit you may opt for a blazer or a go for the suit, but ditch the tie. It is always best to have a jacket rather than just a shirt on its own or just with a jumper. There is slightly more choice for ladies, who will want to go for a skirt, professional looking dress or tailored trousers with a jacket.
The more creative the job, the more you will want to consider dressing down (but staying smart!). Wear proper trousers rather than jogging bottoms, for example, and never turn up in worn-out jeans.
Whatever you wear, make sure it is comfortable, a smart suit will do you no favours if you are uncomfortable, and it may affect your performance at the interview itself if you are constantly having to pull at your clothes. Making sure you stay calm and relaxed for your job interview is as important as your appearance, so don’t let your clothes rule you.
The same goes for shoes, ladies, it is fine to wear some smart flat shoes if you find it tricky to walk in heels. Better that than stumbling around! And never wear open toed shoes or trainers to an interview (that goes for men too!). Your footwear is always important, as people will notice and judge you on your shoes, so make sure they are smart and clean.
It is not just your clothing that you may have to take notice of. If you have tattoos or piercings you may want to cover them up to create a better impression. The fact remains that you may be interviewed by someone much older than yourself whose views on such things could see you miss out on the job. As unfair as it seems, it’s just how it is, so just accept it. Interviews are stressful enough without having to worry how your ink will impact on your chances of getting the job!
That is not to say that you couldn’t or shouldn’t show some personal style. For men it could be a watch or an accessory like a portfolio case to carry your papers in. For women it could be some subtle jewellery a bag, or a scarf. Whatever you prefer – just don’t go over the top. You don’t want to look like you have just ram-raided Elizabeth Duke!
Ultimately you want your clothes to make a good impression – which means being clean and tidy more than anything else. You will need to concentrate on answering interview questions such as whether you have any weaknesses, rather than if your skirt is riding up too high.
You might want to make a slight statement with your clothes, but keep it classy. Novelty ties will make your interviewer remember you for all the wrong reasons, while a well-chosen accessory may offer you a stylish edge.
While there are some who say the business suit is history, it seems that it is still here to stay (for the time being). Perhaps this is because it is better to be safe than sorry, and it is easier to ‘relax’ your look by taking off your tie and undoing your top button than it is to dress up something more casual?