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Top 10 Tips for Interview Dress Etiquette

Written by: Ashley Kate HR
Published on: 13 Oct 2014

You have learnt How to write a winning CV and it has landed you an interview for your dream job, but now comes the hard part! What to wear? Dressing for success is vital.

 When it comes to dressing for an interview, the consensus is that a formal dress code is best – but is it?

 With at least another 10  candidates having the same skillset as you in the running for the job, you need to set yourself apart from them, and not just with your sharp answers! Over the last 15 years you wouldn’t believe the horror stories I have heard from clients with feedback on how a candidate presented at interview. This includes, hair, shoes, make up, perfume, tattoos, piercing, nails and personal hygiene, and not forgetting the allusive chewing gum under the tongue and the smell of cigarettes.interviewfail

I remember interviewing a great candidate for a Head Receptionist role with a prestigious law firm. My candidate was well presented, looked the part, her answers were on point and she had the right culture fit.  It’s in the bag – right?  That’s what I thought too until I got a call from the hiring manager 3 days after I had interviewed her, advising me that unfortunately her aluminous green hair wouldn’t fit in a client facing role there.  Why she chose to do it a couple of days before her interview I will never know, but nevertheless she was not offered the job. Appearance matters.

Remember what works for you in your personal life, doesn’t always work in the office. You need to find the right fit.

 In the first instance, always research the organisations culture, a vital step and a bit of a rookie mistake if not done.  This leads me back to the conservative dress code. Being suited and booted is great, but it might not suit a creative media style company or high street fashion retailer.  Wearing the wrong clothes can make you feel uncomfortable and could affect your performance.  If in doubt ask the agency who is representing you or check with your interviewer.  If you are still unsure then I would suggest opting for the more formal approach, being overdressed is better than underdressed.

So here are my top tips;

  1.  Iron! Make sure your clothes are ironed – if you don’t know how to do this, take it to someone who does. No excuses.
  2. Ladies and tights – this is a hot topic of conversation in our office, across a mix of ages.  Some agree you should wear them, some don’t.  My advice is if you are going back and forth over it in your mind, it is likely you should be wearing them. Again this will come down to sector.
  3. Avoid garish jewellery, this can distract your interviewer
  4. Personally, I would avoid aftershaves and perfumes, but this is a personal choice.  What doesn’t give you a headache might give someone else one.  If you decide to wear it – think sparingly!
  5. Ensure your hair is well groomed/brushed.  No one likes to interview someone who looks like they have been pulled through a hedge backwards. This goes for facial hair too.  Clean cut works best.
  6. Make up – less is more.  Remember this is an interview not a night out.
  7. Nails – it is important to make sure they are neat, tidy and clean.  If you are wearing false nails, ensure they are presentable.  Ladies keep the colour as natural as possible.
  8. Shoes.  Make sure they are clean and smart.  Every interviewer (without even knowing it themselves) will check your shoes as you walk in, when you cross your legs or as you leave)  Ladies it is not acceptable to wear a pair of worn down heels.  The only place they should be seen is in the bin!
  9. Fresh breathe and  body odour.  This is essential. If you can’t do any of the above, you have to at least have these in check
  10. Mobile phones.  This isn’t really part of your “dress code” but the snazzy diamond phone cover might look great, but it has no place in the meeting unless it is off or on silent in the bottom of your handbag, briefcase or pocket.  It certainly doesn’t belong in your hand or on the table in front of you.

 Now your dresses to impress watch our Interview Success video

Good luck!