What to wear to a job interview

A common mistake most job interviewees make is to believe that their CV is the only thing they should be bothered with. Unfortunately, they eventually show up for their interviews looking shabby.

You might argue that what you wear does not matter and that it is only what you have to offer matters. That is a big lie.

When you go for an interview, you are presenting yourself to your potential employer, so dressing is essential.

Nobody is going to believe that you are organized, detailed and professional if you show up in a rumpled shirt, faded pants or dusty shoes. All they will see is a disconnect between your appearance and what is in your CV.

Ever heard the term “dressed the way you want to be addressed”? It applies everywhere, from a date to a business meeting and an interview.

 What to wear to a Job interview.

When it comes to what to wear for a job interview, there are rules you have to observe. You have to remember that you are going to leave the interviewer with an impression. What impression are you going to leave the person with?

It is essential to know the business environment you will be interviewing at. This will inform your outfit choice. Always research the work and dress culture of the company you are interviewing at.

There are three types of outfit to wear for a job interview. The outfit you wear is dependent on the work environment.

 When going for a job interview in a formal work environment, your outfit should be strictly professional.

When your interview is at an informal work environment, business casual will serve.

Most start-up companies these days are entirely casual, so you can opt for a casual yet tidy look when going for such interviews.

Professional interview outfits.

These are professional outfits that are common to professions like law and banking. When you have an interview at a law firm or with a bank, your best bet is to go for formal business outfits.

Professional interview outfits for ladies will be, jackets paired with a simple blouse and pants or skirts. A well-fitted dress is also a great option.

The outfit should not be too busy. Avoid loud, distracting colours. Stick to block colours if possible. Court shoes or office pumps are perfect for this outfit.

The fit of your cloth should be just right. Too tight and it will come off as tacky, too loose and it will look shabby. Men going for professional interviews should wear pants paired with either a suit jacket or a sweater and tie. The shirt should be well ironed. Matte leather shoes are best for this outfit as patent shoes tend to shine and will be distracting. Avoid drawing unnecessary attention to your dressing. Match your belt and our shoe colours.

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Business casual outfits.

Business casual outfits are a cross between formal and casual outfits. Ladies going for interviews that call for business casual outfits can add a bit more colour to their outfits but not go overboard.

They can pair a pair of dark-coloured jeans with a well-fitting blazer and blouse. You can play with sweaters and shirts. Remember to keep your outfit still tame and not distracting.

Covered shoes are always the preferable option, but you can experiment with what works best with your outfit. Avoid wearing stilettoes as they scream “glamour”. Get the job first.

Guys can trade the tie for an open neck button-down shirt with or with jacket or sweater. The can switch the dark-coloured pants with khakis and wear loafers instead of matte leather shoes.

Casual outfits.

When you have an interview with a company that has a laid back feel and dress culture, you want to fit in. The problem with casual is that most people blur the line between casual and sloppy.

Your outfit should be clean, well ironed and fresh. Shorts and a polo shirt for an interview no matter how casual is a no. Regardless of the term casual, your outfit should still speak volumes of how organized and detailed you are. This means that ripped jeans, fishnet, see-through clothes or raggedy clothes are off the table.

Job interview grooming tips.

Asides your outfit, your grooming is essential. Ladies should stick with natural-looking makeup, minimal jewellery and subtle fragrance. Fingernails should be well-trimmed and clean. Artificial nails should be short with sedate nail polish colour.

Hairstyle should be controllable. It is best to put your hair in a bun or pack it away from your face. Keep all hair tints and tattoos hidden, especially when going for a formal business interview.

A guy going for an interview has to spot a clean look. You should be spotting a freshly shaved face with a clean haircut. In the case of those who carry their beards or hair, proper grooming should be done before the interview. Keep fingernails clean and avoid the use of strongly fragranced aftershave or cologne.

The key to getting it right with job interview is to know your audience and their dress culture. It is also crucial that you keep it simple. Avoid too many details and fluff. Let your outfit be comfortable and less frilly.

Except you are interviewing for a fashion-related position, trends should only be incorporated minimally into your outfit. Avoid trying to replicate a celebrity outfit when going for a job interview.

What not to do with a job interview outfit.

  • Do not wear a rumpled outfit. Ensure that your clothes are properly pressed.
  • Do not wear poorly fitted clothes or shoes. Aim for comfort.
  • Do not wear faded clothes; they make you look sallow.
  • Avoid nitpicking at your clothes
  • Do not wear pantyhose and if it is needed and if you must, make sure it has no runs in it.
  • Polish your shoes and keep them clean. Take a napkin along just in case your shoes get messed up. 

Remember the best outfit is a winning smile and a confident handshake.

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