An upcoming graduate’s life isn’t easy. The seemingly endless late nights at the library for revision, spending hours trying to meet that 10,000-word dissertation target, and trying to find a job to walk into after graduation can get a bit too much. Of course, there’s still the part-time job to keep juggling and trying to have some sort of a social life at the end of it all. Interview notifications are often given at short notice with little time to prepare. And you need to work out what to wear! CT shirts, retailers of menswear and suits, gives us some advice:
Not generally recommended, there are still certain times when dressing casually for an interview can be fine to do. Casual dress is suitable when you’re interviewing for charity work or a casual unpaid internship, for example. For these interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing.
For women, skirts and jeans are appropriate in a casual interview so feel free to wear what you feel comfortable in. Avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. Team up a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of jeans or trousers.
Since it’s likely to be a relaxed vibe, you shouldn’t worry too much about footwear. A smart ankle boot or flat pump will fit the bill, but perhaps trainers and high heels should be avoided.
For men, it can be hard to dress casually without looking too underdressed. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but as already recommended, steer clear of ripped jeans. Avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops as these will not give off the best impression. Play it safe with a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket to finish off the look.
Some interviews may specify business-casual attire on the invitation. This may be because they have this particular dress code in the office. You also may have been invited for an assessment day where you are expected to be there for several hours. If this is the case, it is likely the recruiters want you to feel comfortable. Don’t use this as an excuse to dress down, though.
If you are unsure what to wear, it’s best to dress too formally rather than too casually to avoid giving off the wrong impression.
With a business-casual dress code, you have more freedom with what you wear than in a strictly professional interview. A pinstripe or patterned smart trousers with a smart shirt tucked in will give the professional look without making it too formal.
Alternatively, wear a smart shirt with a wide collar underneath a long-sleeved sweater. This look once again gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket.
For men, to be appropriate for a business-casual dress code, you should wear a smart shirt. Investing in a non-iron shirt will make sure it stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview – always a great timesaver! Also, normal shirts can become creased during your commute to the interview, so wearing a non-iron garment avoids this issue also.
Avoid wearing a polo shirt as this is too casual and make sure you steer clear of jeans.
A professional look is a must for formal interviews. These interviews could be in front of directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship so it is best to be prepared and look your best here. First impressions count and with the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles.
In a professional situation, women should opt for a suit. When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, opt for a knee-length hemline which will avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring. If you shop around you will discover suits that are tailored in different ways so find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel.
As with women, men should also wear a suit when it comes to a formal interview. Navy suits with dark socks to blend in with your outfit, finished off with a briefcase will give a professional look. Brogues are another good choice of footwear. They will present a stylish and smart look without being mundane. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style, a slim leg may be best suited for you and your shape.
What to avoid
As we can see, the main thing to do is to make sure you feel comfortable in your outfit — it will show in the interview! However, make sure you avoid too much perfume or aftershave, or too much jewellery or make up. It is far more effective to have natural, understated look than to overwhelm!