Dress for interview success: who are you wearing?

Feb 9, 2015

Preparation is vital for the success of any interview. It is very important to do your research on the organisation and to prepare questions and answers amongst other factors. Furthermore, it may seem quite obvious to some, but for those who don’t realise, your appearance is just as important. Remember applicants you have to dress for success!

So candidates, who are you wearing? What I mean by that question is that it is important to wear an outfit that compliments your style, professionalism and personality. First appearance is very imperative to securing a job, although it may sound superficial and daunting, first impressions count.

Research has shown that our brain uses 50 per cent of its resources as vision, and if so that means it undermines other senses when taking in information. The last thing you want is for your interviewer to be distracted by your flamboyant shirt or excessive piercings whilst you are doing your best expressing your passion to work for the company. Therefore it is important to make yourself appear professionally appealing, comfortable and prepared as possible.

Okay guys, so it does not necessarily mean going shopping and spending beyond your means on new expensive clothes. There are lots of low or no-cost ways to ensure you dress in a way that reflects your professionalism.

These are five simple points to remember when picking out an outfit for an interview:

  1. Does it represent you? You have to make sure it does not look like you are trying too hard to impress the interviewer or panel. People can often sense when you’re not being yourself. Remember not to force it, it is very simple guys, less is more.


Females: Try not to wear excessive makeup; the employer wants to know that you can get to work on time. If you arrive with a full face of makeup it may give off the wrong impression. So try to make it look more natural and subtle, instead of looking like you’re going out to a nightclub.

  1. Is it revealing or inappropriate? I cannot express the importance of this question enough. Avoid wearing something that may not fit you properly or which maybe too revealing. This can be very misleading and candidates can often be remembered for negative reasons. It is important to have a very modest appearance at your interview. If you have noticeable assets it is important not to flaunt them to the interviewer or the panel. For instance being in an interview with noticeable cleavage does not send off the right message. Therefore if you have a big bust, try to wear a vest underneath your shirt.

Males & Females: It is vital that your suit (or any other clothing) is tailored to fit properly. You do not want to attend an interview and your suit is overly loose, too long or too short. Candidates I must reiterate that you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on clothes for an interview. Visit your local dry cleaners and have your suit tailored.

3.Are your choices of colours too distracting?  Try not to wear colours that are too overpowering and striking.


Males: Make sure that your tie, shirt, suit, socks and shoes are not too eye catching. For instance going into an interview with a green shirt and pink and green polka dot tie will certainly give off the wrong impression to the interviewer – unless you’re applying to a creative agency known for being unconventional! For the rest of us, balance is key. Try to wear something more professional like a white shirt and red tie with a grey suit. This would show to the interviewer that you have carefully thought about your appearance beforehand.

  1. Would your choice of clothing fit into the company’s culture? Is the company cooperate or informal? Different rules apply for different companies.


Males: Always wear a suit because it does the trick with any organisation. In terms of footwear please do not wear athletic shoes, boots or crocs.

Females: Essentially females have more options of what to wear to interviews. For example, they can wear either a tailored suit with a shirt or a tailored dress. Just make sure that the length of the dress or skirt is an appropriate length.

  1. Cover up tattoos or piercings. I would like to expand on this point since it has been discussed and debated, whether excessive tattoos and piercings are appropriate for any interview. While it may be acceptable in certain industries it is not necessarily so in the corporate world. The best thing to do with tattoos is to make sure they are covered up. Females and males can always cover it up with a thick foundation or concealer.
  1. It is important that you do not wear excessive jewellery; this goes for males and females. Large facial piercings are also not acceptable; they often give a negative impression. (Of course you may not agree with this.) You do not want the interviewer to judge you as someone who is not serious about the position. Make sure you take them out before the interview.

Also remember not to spend too much time on your appearance. Pay attention to the smaller details, which are just as important.

  1. Body language. Once you have your clothing sorted give a little thought to your body language ­– it also needs to be taken into consideration. For instance if your posture is closed it usually signifies that you have a negative attitude or that you’re defensive. A candidate who walks in, shakes the interviewer hand, sits down and with their arms folded, slouches and constantly avoids eye contact can be perceived negatively. In contrast with a candidate who walks confidently into the room, offers a firm handshake and sits down with their arms and legs uncrossed illustrates an open posture, which suggests that they are more relaxed and have an open attitude.
  1. Extras – a final point on dressing for success: make sure you have a pen and a notepad, your phone is switched off and you are not chewing gum, as these can impact on you no matter how good you look.

I do hope this blog helps to give a better understanding of what certain organisations look for. Good luck in your job hunt, and if you need further help and coaching, talk to Graduate Coach.

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