Dressing for an interview: Putting your best shoe forward

You’ve worked hard to get to this point – for months, you’ve applied, rewritten your resume, and perfected your cover letter. Now you have an interview for the job you want. But there’s one thing you haven’t thought about: your job interview outfit.

Your clothing choice can significantly impact how you’re perceived, so you must choose wisely when dressing for an interview. If you’re wondering what to wear, consider the job you’re applying for and the impression you want to leave on the interviewer.

The best thing to wear to a “traditional” job interview

If you’re applying for a job in a traditional field, it’s important to project a trustworthy and professional image while still sticking to a modern interview attire look. You don’t want to appear too conservative. Wearing blue, black, or grey will make you look confident and competent. However, don’t forget to show some personality with fun and colourful accessories like socks, necklaces, or ties.

The best thing to wear for a “creative” job interview

If you want to stand out from the crowd in a creative field, it’s important to choose an unexpected colour scheme. Wearing shades of green, purple, or yellow will signal that you’re creative, easy-going, and unique. You could wear eye-catching accessories such as jewellery, scarves, ties, socks, or bags to spice up your look. This will emphasise your individuality and taste.

So the next time you’re preparing for a job interview, take some time to think about what you want your clothes to say about you. Our brains tend to make subconscious assumptions based on first impressions, so use this to your advantage.

How to choose the perfect outfit for a job interview

Now that you know the type of impression you’d like to make in a job interview, here’s how to strategize.

Do your job interview outfit homework

Before the interview, you should have an idea of what you’re getting into. Research the company or talk to friends who’ve worked there. You’ll get a feel for the company’s dress code. Don’t try to dress like an exact clone of the company’s employees. The goal is to understand the general tone of what you should and shouldn’t wear. For example, if the dress code is more formal than casual, don’t show up in a t-shirt and trainers. This will make you look unprepared and feel out of place throughout the interview.

Don’t overplan your outfit for the interview

Most people pick out their clothes for upcoming events a few days in advance. However, overthinking your job interview outfit will only make you feel more stressed and nervous.

Instead of worrying about what to wear days before the job interview, ask yourself on the morning of the big day: how do I feel today? How do I want my potential employer to see me? What clothes will highlight my best features?

For example, a grey blazer might make you feel even more tired if you’re feeling down. You should dress in an upbeat way by choosing a garment that will lift your mood and a colour that will give you energy.

Choose an eye-catching accessory

While it’s true that you shouldn’t wear something too flashy to a job interview, you also don’t want to keep things too simple. Consider choosing a “focus accessory” – an item that enhances your mood and has sentimental value. It may catch the attention of your interviewer and lead to a short conversation that will tell them more about you as a person. This way, they’ll get to know you better and see that you’re not just a one-dimensional candidate.

Pay attention to personal hygiene

Your appearance says a lot about your self-respect and discipline. When you show up to your interview as a well-groomed candidate, you’re signalling that you take pride in your appearance and pay attention to detail.

Wear clean and pressed clothing with no visible signs of wear. Make sure all buttons are present and there are no stains on your clothing. If you’re interviewing after work, bring a change of clothes, so you don’t look like you just came from your job.

How to dress for a video interview

When preparing for a video job interview, you should dress as if you’re meeting the employer in person. This will make you look more professional and attractive to the interviewer, giving you a boost of confidence.  

It’s important that your top and bottom halves match. Even though the interviewer usually only sees your upper body, there could be an unexpected situation where you must stand up or appear head to toe. You don’t want to appear unprepared in shorts (or worse!) – that would leave a bad impression.

As a rule of thumb, you should choose darker colours for your outfit if you’re being interviewed on video. Depending on the quality of your webcam and internet connection, small patterns can often create a moiré effect that can be quite distracting. Solid colour clothing is usually a safer choice. In addition, think about what your background will look like. Beyond making sure it’s tidy and clean, try to pick clothing colours that will contrast nicely with your background, so you don’t look like a floating head.

Do a dry run with your outfit before the big day to make sure everything looks good on camera.

Outfit sorted? Let’s work on your interview skills

You want to stand out in an interview, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to say. That’s where our Interview Skills solution comes in. We offer customised interview skills training so you can answer questions with confidence. With our programmes, you’ll receive detailed feedback that will help you prepare for future interviews. That way, you’re more likely to get the job you want. Contact us today to learn more.