There are a few elements of the interview process that can make or break your chances of getting a job and the question of what to wear to an interview should be approached with as much importance as any of the other elements. I’ve interviewed hundreds and possibly thousands of prospects for a variety of different jobs and it was usual that before the candidate has opened their mouth that I’ve already started to make my judgements having looked at what they’re wearing . One wise career consultant once said to me ‘your interview begins in the car park’ so don’t for one minute think that just because you are sitting in the waiting area, that you’re not being judged. You can contact me to talk more about your interview strategy
Demonstrate you’ve done your research
Think about it, it’s not difficult to find out what to wear so this part of the interview assessment process is really a quick win for you because you can ‘score’ immediate points. If you’ve gone to the lengths of finding out what to wear to your interview it demonstrates to the interviewer that you made a real effort and put in some research in order to know how to dress appropriately. It also shows that you are able to adapt to your surroundings but bear this in mind, if you don’t feel comfortable in what you are wearing and the organisation’s culture of dress, then ask yourself, ‘will you feel comfortable working there in the long term?’ Now as I said, I used to make my judgements on the interviewee before they’d opened their mouth and any interviewer worth their salt will look to see how you are dressed and use that as part of the assessment criteria. If you don’t look comfortable – for whatever reason – the interviewer is likely to detect that as well.
Don’t over dress, don’t under dress
If you can find a way of blending in and dressing appropriately the interviewer consciously or subconsciously begins to visualise you in the role and it makes it easier for them to determine whether or not you will be a good fit for their team and for the organisation. I remember going to an interview years ago and assumed that I should wear my best suit and brogues with a tie and slick white shirt. When I arrived everyone was dressed in jeans and T-shirts and I had a sense of feeling overdressed even though I was at an interview, I remember thinking to myself ‘I wish I had made the effort to find out what to wear’. And so it turned out I didn’t get the job even though I performed really well at interview. Low and behold, the interviewer commented that she felt that I would suit a more formal environment. Obviously I disagreed, but I couldn’t help thinking if the outcome would have been different had I dressed according to my surroundings. Needless to say, I learned my lesson.
Find common ground
By dressing appropriately and being relevant to your interview surroundings you can help to build an affinity between yourself and the interviewer because they-in the capacity as an assessor-may see something that you are wearing, that they like and therefore see that you have similar tastes. That will no doubt help them to remember you when they come to write their notes and discuss your interview with their colleagues.
Impress with your sense of style
I’m no style guru but I know what to wear in order to look good. Knowing what to wear for an interview is also about being stylish regardless of whether the dress code is formal or casual. If you are interviewing with a company that has a casual style – and you’re clear on what to wear to the interview – then wear your best trainers and not your scruffy old faithfuls. For more formal surroundings wear the shirt or blouse that you know is really going to knock their socks off not forgetting that you’re trying to impress with the clothes you are wearing. Your sense of style will leave a lasting impression and style doesn’t necessarily mean you burn a hole in your pocket, I had a lucky tie that I wore to literary all my interviews because people commented how good it looked on me so I stuck with it until I finally got a job offer.
Look good, feel good
There’s no doubt that the interview process can be a drain on your energy especially if things aren’t going to plan. So you need to use every means at your disposal to gain as much confidence and energy as possible and for me, when I stepped out of my house knowing that I looked good, I felt great and got a much-needed boost of confidence. I used to deliberately ask friends and family how I looked and their compliments would give me a much-needed boost. And there were times that I received compliments and feedback on my dress sense following my interview and that would also make me feel good about myself. This convinced me that it’s well worth the effort to do my best to look good. The main thing is to get an objective opinion on how you look so avoid asking someone who you know is not prepared to give you honest feedback.
Visit the dry cleaner
Make sure that your interview outfit is at its best and smells fresh and looks clean. Remember that the interviewer is likely to be in close proximity so it’s acceptable to have stale smoke and other unpleasant smells tainting the surroundings. They will also notice any frayed edges, holes and other flaws so make sure you fix them in advance.
Don’t stand out for the wrong reasons
any make up jewellery, skirts, tops and ties should be subtle and not worn for the sole purpose of drawing attention in the wrong way. Both men and women should be well groomed because your sense of dress is not just about the clothes you have on. By all means pay a visit to the hairdressers, and for all the men out there make sure you’ve trimmed your beard and neatened your stubble. And go easy on the perfume and aftershave.
How to find out what to wear
You might be thinking ‘how do I know what to wear to my interview?’ There are several avenues you can take to find out what to wear on the big day and by the way, don’t leave it until the night before to try to find out. Here are a few ways in which you can do your research:
Ask the recruitment consultant
A good recruitment consultant should provide you with a range of information in advance of your interview including the expected dress code. If they don’t, you need to ask yourself how well do they know the client and what level of experience do they have in dealing with interviewees. In the event that the recruiter does not provide you with the information you need, ask them as soon as possible to find out on your behalf and do some of your own research.
Look at the employer’s website
The employer’s website is a really important resource for your research and is bound to have some information that will help you with your interview. You will need to take a thorough look at all the important pages of the website but from the point of view and what to wear, videos and pictures will give you a big clue and you will be able to get a general feeling of the culture, tone of voice and dress sense of personnel within the business.
Explore social media
Many businesses nowadays have various social media channels and its common to see pictures and videos of personnel posted on various sites such as YouTube, Facebook and photo sharing sites like Flickr. A word of warning, if you are going to look at the visuals on social media channels be aware that pictures and videos from all sorts of events could be posted-such as away days and dress down days-so pick out the pictures and videos that represent the everyday dress code of the organisation.
Ask the human resources department
It is common that the human resources department will have some sort of involvement in arranging your interview particularly if you were able to get your interview without the intervention of a recruitment consultant. The great thing about the HR department is that they will be able to answer a variety of questions about the interview process but it’s also up to you to ask sensible questions on things that you may not be clear on, one such question on your list should be related to what you should wear to the interview. In the event that the human resources department does not exist or is not involved in arranging the interview, you can ask the hiring manager what the usual dress code is for candidates at interview stage. In any event avoid asking sporadic questions and have a list of sensible questions prepared so that you can ask them all in one go, at a convenient time.
So there you have, some the main considerations on what to where and how to find out what to wear to your interview. Can you think of any other ways to find out what to wear? If so, leave a comment below with your suggestion.
I want you do look at the different sources and begin to think about what you’re going to wear for you interview. Let me know what you come up with, we can compare notes and I’ll let you know what I think. You can contact me to talk more about your interview strategy as well.