How To Dress For A Job Interview


You've landed the interview, but now you have to nail it to land the job. Having the credentials and being prepared will undoubtedly help but looking the part is also essential. After all, if you want to do your best, you'll want to look your best, too. But what if you have no idea what to wear? Not every interview will require a suit and tie. In fact, in some scenarios, wearing this might reveal that you haven't done your research. So before you go suit shopping, know that your interview outfit will depend on the culture of the company and the nature of the work that they do. To make things a little easier I've put together a guide on what to wear to a job interview in the hope of landing you that dream job.


Business Attire


The term ‘business attire' refers to the archetypal formal office dress code. It hinges on professionalism so we're talking suits, formal shirts, ties and smart shoes. For a corporate office, formality is the name of the game so you need to aim for a traditional, classic aesthetic. This doesn't mean you have to dress like an old man however as your tailoring can be youthful and fitted while still adhering to the dress code. Business attire is usually the order of the day for office work or ‘white collar' jobs, where the company want to convey an atmosphere of professionalism and formality.


Dress To Impress


As the saying goes: you only get one chance to make a first impression. Apart from what they've seen in your CV, potential employers don't know you, so the way you dress is an indication of your professionalism. So keep it simple when you attend a professional interview. You may be a style peacock in your personal life, but you never know who is going to be interviewing you, so you'll need to play it safe. Safe, however, doesn't necessarily mean boring, dated or dull. Your office attire can still be stylish; it's all in the fit and the details.


Suit Up


A potential employer will want to imagine how you'll fit in in their office, so your interview attire should exude professionalism. A two-piece suit is ideal for a professional interview. It's smart, clean and simple and it's what you'll potentially be wearing to work every day if you get the job. Go for something simple, rather than something convoluted or over the top. Tailoring is paramount as you don't want to look like you're borrowing it from someone else. Darker colours are highly recommended for job interviews so look to the classics; navy or charcoal grey. Black can work ok but make sure it suits your colouring and features, lest you want to look like a funeral director.


Shirt & Tie


Shirts in lighter tones always work better in a professional environment so once again, stick to the classics. You can never go wrong with a crisp white shirt or a powder blue shirt. Also, pay attention to the type of collar on your shirt. Opt for a straight or cutaway collar as opposed to a button-down collar for a more formal look. Try to avoid darker coloured shirts for the interview and make sure the shirt and especially the collar are the right size for you. Fasten your top button and tie up your tie and for the love of God, make sure your shirt is ironed. A wrinkled shirt or one that has the outline of the packaging on it is a corporate kiss of death. For your tie, once again, keep it simple. Do not go for a skinny tie or an extra wide tie, go for a standard width in a (conservative) block colour or pattern. Burgundies, navies and dark greens are perfect for the image you want to convey and will complement the rest of your outfit. If you want to go for a pattern then consider a preppy stripe to add a bit of flair to your look. A nice tie bar will also add a small but memorable finishing touch.


Shoes & Socks


For your shoes, go for a round-toed Oxford, which is simple and classic (noticing a theme?). The state of your shoes will say a lot about you to a potential employer. A good pair will complete your look and capture your sense of style perfectly. A scuffed, beaten up pair of shoes send the message that you don't pay attention to detail or take pride in your appearance. So if you aren't buying new shoes, please make sure the ones you have are clean and shined. Socks will also demonstrate your personal style in an office setting but for the interview, it might be best to play it safe. Your novelty socks might spark an unwanted debate about the Taoiseach if worn in front of the wrong person so opt for a block colour that compliments your suit or a subtle pattern.


Accessories & Grooming


A pocket square that matches your tie will accent your accompanying clothing and give a bit of dimension but be careful - it's a job interview, not a wedding so steer clear of overly vivid colours or flashy patterns as you'll still need to observe the formality of the setting. Cufflinks and a good watch are also a nice addition that will signal that you pay attention to detail. It's also a priority to make sure your hair and grooming are on point as they are the first things that a potential employer will notice. Get your haircut a few days before the interview and don't try anything new or over the top – now is not the time to experiment with your look. If you have facial hair, make sure it's trimmed and well maintained, otherwise, go for a clean-shaven look as scraggly beards and five o'clock shadows will be noted and not for any reason that's good. If you're wearing a fragrance then don't go for anything too overpowering, as it could prove distracting. Opt for a subtle scent like Aqua Di Gio and use it sparingly.


The Casual Options


For modern creative industries, it may not be necessary to wear a suit to your interview, but you'll still need to look well. A casual interview will afford you more of a chance to express your personal sense of style, but you'll still need to present yourself in a respectful and professional manner. In the right working environment, you will have ample opportunity to experiment with your work attire, but keep things relatively simple for your interview. A simple button-down shirt will do the trick. Solid colours are good so look as they aren't overly bright but a classic check or a muted gingham will also work well. Chinos are a good choice for a casual interview but stick to classic colours and make sure they are the fit and the length are right. You're looking to strike the right balance between relaxed and dressed up so don't roll them up and wear socks. You can complete the look with a V-neck jumper or an unstructured blazer.


Before you decide on an outfit, get to know the company you're applying for. Research them through their website and social media pages. You'll typically get a vibe for what their employees wear to the office. For the interview, plan on dressing nicer than you would on a normal day working for the company and take it from there. Good luck with your interview.

Patrick McLoughney