Dress to Impress: What to Wear for a Successful Job Interview

Dress to Impress: What to Wear for a Successful Job Interview
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 09 February, 2023
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You've submitted your resume, you've passed the first screening, and now you've received a job interview invitation. You've even practised answering the most common hirer questions. But you may be overlooking one thing. Appearances do matter, especially when it comes to first impressions. So what will you wear during your interview to get noticed positively?

Dressing properly is not just a mere superficial matter. Whether or not you're applying for a role in the fashion or creative industries, your outfit reflects your personality (do you pay attention to detail?), professionalism (are you dressed decently and practically?), and respect for the company (did you do the legwork on their culture?) for which you're aiming to join. It can have a lasting impression on prospective employers, even when you converse via a video call.

Knowing what you should wear to a job interview puts you in good graces with your hiring manager and helps them better envision you for the role. When you know you look good and dressed for success, you’re bound to be more confident during your meeting.

What Should You Wear to the Job Interview?

No uniform can guarantee your interview success. Companies will have different expectations based on their culture, organisational structure, and management style. What one would wear to a financial firm would be different at an advertising agency, for example.

Before the interview, ask about the company culture and its employees' dress code. If the organisation has a more relaxed policy (which is usually the case of startups), opt for business casual outfits. Pieces such as cotton or khaki slacks, casual knee-length skirts and simple tops help you look smart and well put-together without looking overly stiff and out of place.

Meanwhile, in traditional or formal office settings, stick to tailored pieces such as a button-up shirt or blouse, dark-coloured slacks or knee-length skirts, and even ties.

Study the company's existing dress code and take that up a notch for the interview. For example, if a hip music studio is very Casual Friday every day, with employees dressed in tank tops and blue jeans, you can perhaps wear a cotton top with slacks. However, this tip is tricky since it involves subjective assessment. You can opt for a smart casual dress code if you're at a loss. Make it your default choice since you can never go wrong with looking neat and appropriate.

Apart from your outfit choices, don’t forget to practise proper grooming and hygiene. Keep your face and fingernails clean. Arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment so you can freshen up before you face the interviewer – especially if you’re taking public transportation.

How to Dress for Business Casual or Smart Casual Dress Codes in an Interview

Avoid wearing graphic T-shirts or tops.

While you don’t have to show up in an Oxford shirt to an interview, it is still important to be careful about what you wear, even in a casual setting. A job interview is not the time to wear your favourite band T-shirts orStar Warsmerchandise, for example. Skip the statement shirts while you're at it. These "fun" shirts can distract your interviewer when they should focus on your responses.

Yes, it should go without saying, but don't wear the mentioned items during online video calls, too. You’re not Mark Zuckerberg – yet.

Opt for khaki chinos or dark-coloured jeans.

In offices with more relaxed dress codes, chinos or even jeans make for casual yet smart outfits. If you want to wear jeans, avoid showing up in faded or ripped denim – stick to dark colours with minimal to zero fading.

Keep your footwear simple.

While you can’t go wrong with leather footwear such as loafers, you can also show up in sneakers – but keep them to a minimalist silhouette and colourway.

How to Dress for a Formal Business Dress Code in an Interview

Stick to navy or grey.

Navy and grey are the best hues to stick to in a job interview that requires a formal dress code. These are the most acceptable and office-appropriate colours in a traditional organisation. It is especially important if the office expects you to come in a suit.

Make sure your pieces are tailored and fit correctly.

Sometimes, an extra centimetre can spell the difference between structured and sloppy. Blazers or shirt sleeves that are too long can make you look slouchy and do not project an image of confidence. Also, cut off loose threads and check for any tiny holes. These small details can make or break the impression you're trying to make.

Wear dark-coloured leather shoes.

Loafers, oxfords, and even pumps make appropriate footwear choices for a formal business dress code. Opt for dark-coloured shoes in black or dark brown or burgundy shades. These are practical and match the tone of more formal work environments.

The Best Colours to Wear for a Job Interview

If you think colour does not matter in an interview, think again. A study called Impact of Colour on Marketing found that up to 90 per cent of snap judgements made about products were based on colour alone. It also learned that people make assessments within 90 seconds of their initial encounter with people or products. Sixty-two to 90 per cent of these judgments are influenced by colours.

Blue

Experts claim that blue gets the highest approval from hiring professionals. Shades of this cool colour say that you’re credible and trustworthy while exuding calmness and confidence. Creative professionals may want to explore other shades of blue aside from navy, as this is most commonly associated with traditional office dress codes.

Grey

An understated shade, grey conveys quiet confidence – approachable yet sophisticated. It’s also commonly associated with a logical and analytical mind, making it a terrific choice for interviews in almost any profession. It’s also an easy hue to match with other colours – should you need to inject some personality into your attire.

Black

Ranking highest on the authority scale, black is the most effective when worn to interviews for management or leadership positions. While it might be the most popular colour for suits and dresses at interviews, hiring professionals caution that it might be overpowering if you’re interviewing for an entry-level or administrative position.

White

The universal colour that conveys purity and simplicity, white is an ideal choice for shirts and blouses. Wearing a crisp white jacket to brighten up a dark ensemble makes a great statement without being too overpowering. This popular choice also says that you’re organised and detail-oriented, which are always positive qualities for the interviewer.

Brown

A neutral colour, brown is often perceived as comforting and reliable. While it doesn’t necessarily convey negative associations, brown might not be appropriate if you want to project yourself as modern and progressive.

Red

The colour of power, passion, and aggression, red should be worn as an accent colour so as not to come across as too bossy. Adding a dash of red in the form of a tie or scarf will give you an air of confidence without the arrogance of an all-red ensemble.

Yellow

The most luminous shade in the colour spectrum, yellow instantly conjures up images of the sun, evoking feelings of optimism, happiness, and warmth. While the general advice is to stick to neutral hues for interviews, experts recommend wearing yellow for creative professionals.

Green

A colour most commonly associated with youth, peace and safety, green is easy on the eyes and projects a calming impression. However, you might come across, as, well, green since it also symbolises inexperience. To counter that risk, choose darker shades of green to convey maturity.

Orange or purple

Orange may just be the new pink if you’re applying for a creative role. Just like red, orange, and purple are loud and vibrant colours that might come across as too overpowering at job interviews. However, this colour showcases savvy, which makes them perfect as accent shades if you want to show off your resourceful side.

Use this advice and never worry about what you should wear for your job interview again. Now that you're ready to dress for success, find out which job openings are right for you by signing up at JobStreet. You can download the app from Apple or Google Play, too. To learn more on how to blow away hiring managers at job interviews, visit Career Resources Hub for expert insights.

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