What this is not: A definitive guide of what you should wear to work.
What it is: A collective response from recruiters and hiring managers in the UK and Australia on suggestions of “what to wear to give the right first impression at interview”. This could help you get your dream job.
The BBC reported that 55% of the impact you make depends on how you look and behave, 38% on how you speak and only 7% on what you actually say.
Furthermore, a study by the University of Texas and Sonoma State University found that “levels of extroversion, self-esteem, and how religious you are can be judged from your physical appearance”. People take a lot from your appearance, so getting the dress code right for your job interview is crucial.
- A Plain, Dark Suit: Less is more so go for a plain, dark tone suit (bright thick pinstripes were good on Wall Street in the 80s or in Bugsy Malone but not for an interview). Make sure it is a good fit too. Some great notes on suits here. If your trousers have belt loops, wear a belt that matches your shoes (black leather).
- A Plain Shirt: Ultra conservative is white, double cuffed with no pocket; but the main tip is to make sure its ironed well and not too busy. Button down collars are a bit casual. Never wear a black shirt with a suit to a job interview.
- A Plain Tie: Basic patterns are ok, but novelty ties are a no-no (you don’t need a tie to display how quirky you are). “Skinny Ties” are apparently fashionable, but it’s not your football presentation evening so don’t wear one. Make sure your tie is straight and your top button is done up. Pocket Squares are also apparently fashionable, but possibly too formal for a work interview. Leave it at home with your bow-tie and smoking jacket. If you have a white tie, don’t wear it…ever.
- Socks: Please wear business socks. No white socks; you’re not Michael Jackson and people will be able to see your socks when you sit down, so have a think. I once interviewed a man with “Novelty Christmas” socks where upon his heels touching an electronic “Jingle Bells” rang out. It was August…plain black socks are the best option if in doubt.
- Shoes: Please clean them. The conservative man wears black leather laced shoes. No winkle pickers and none of your novelty white loafers, John Travolta.
- Grooming: Clean tidy hair cut, clean shaven (or trimmed beard – some people say no to facial hair but as long as it’s smart then its acceptable), limited jewelry (bar a watch and wedding ring – but leave the bling for your rap videos). Fingernails: trim them and please make sure they aren’t dirty. Go Easy on aftershave/cologne and make sure you don’t smell of cigarette smoke.
- Suit: Yes, a suit. Trouser or skirt. Yes, you may not wear a suit when you start the position, just as a man may wear smart trousers without a jacket or tie but it’s better to look smart.
- Blouse or Shirt: Make sure it goes with your outfit
- Sensible Shoes: You’re in an office – not on a catwalk. High heels and wedges are inappropriate (moderate heels are fine). Closed toe ideal. Think conservative. Bloomberg Business Week had a few good tips on this.
- Neat, professional and presentable hairstyle: Say no more! Schwarzkopf have some great tips.
- Limited Jewelry: Its more acceptable for women than men but there are limits.
- Neat Nails: Whether pained or not they need to be neat and a sensible, practical length. Claws aren’t looked upon favourably in an OHS conscious environment.
- Sparse Make up/Fake Tan: Please don’t be orange, be yourself and go easy on the perfume.
It’s important to remember that you’re not dressing to impress people at a wine bar or nightclub; you’re interviewing for your dream job, so it’s best to play it safe. Once you’re working for the business then you assimilate to the specific dress code. It’s part of the culture and part of who you are. There are lots of references online for what’s appropriate for business attire and business casual too.