Navigating the 'What to Wear?' thoughts for your interview

Ever been thrown into the interview outfit frenzy? You're not alone. Having guided candidates for over 25 years, I've seen how dress code dilemmas can unsettle pre-interview thoughts.

Dress code is not an uncomfortable subject to bring into a conversation, even though some interviewees feel uneasy asking the question. What should I wear? What is the dress code?

I have witnessed many successes but there have been a few dress code failures. Attending an interview creates natural nerves, you will have more confidence if you are comfortable, and dressed appropriately for the interview.

  • Firstly, ask the dress code question with your recruiter or hiring manager. It will unveil the company culture. Since the pandemic, more companies have adapted their culture to be increasingly informal, it is good to know if this is the case for your interview. It will signal your thorough preparation, show depth of thought. This little enquiry could make a world of difference.
  • Peek into the company's self-portrait - mission statement, marketing. How do they project themselves? Does their brand scream formal or casual? It's indicative of their preferred attire.
  • Visit their sites or dig into LinkedIn profiles. How are the employees dressed?
  • Personal style isn't a no-go. Just be you. Comfort in your style will compliment confidence.
  • Pondering over a tie or formal suit? It is becoming rarer, but some companies still do like to see extremely formal attire for an interview. ( I do experience this more in the Engineering sector than Retail and Hospitality ). Not everyone owns a suit. Smart separates can be equally successful. Match a blazer with smart trousers or blend a blouse with tailored pants. Well-dressed separates can look just as polished.
  • Do you wear a tie? This again depends on the culture of the business. It is optional and acceptable if you choose. Every business will be different. Do your research.
  • If the dress code is casual, great! However, this can be even harder to know what to wear. Always urge on the smart side of casual, still ensure your look is polished and well thought out. Avoid trainers.

Don't let a simple grooming fail, trip you up:

  • Neat hair, trimmed beard or stubble.
  • Day make-up, not overdone.
  • Clean shoes and manicured nails.
  • Well ironed clothes.
  • Be comfortable to take notepad if you need a prompt to remember your interview questions + your thoughts.

Ultimately, be unabashedly you. Good interviewers will make you feel right at home.

Have you any interview wardrobe wins or faux pas of your own? Please share in the comments below.

Unravelling the dress code conundrum!

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