Following on from our recent “smartphone-ready CV” article I think that one of the next most frequent questions concerns the grey area of “what to wear to my next interview.”! Often a source of worry for interviewee’s….tie or no tie….when should you go fully suited and booted……and also where is the fine line between smart casual and being too casual?
In todays employment market, it is certainly not a given that you should wear a full suit and tie combo, in fact one of the greatest advocates for discarding the tie altogether is Sir Richard Branson (Oh and Tony Blair was the first male prime minister to be painted for his official portrait without a tie!). He has been very vocal of late about being comfortable and confident through his campaign to say #ByeToTheTie !! If you were looking to work in one of his many companies then it is very likely you will need to adopt this approach as a tie will do you no favours! From a female perspective, the question for consideration is more around whether a formal business suit is the right choice or something more casual.
Signature accessories—a great pair of shoes or nice watch can go a long way to making a statement…….but being too flashy with your clothing or jewellery can undermine your appearance. Similarly, brand names suggest stature, but too many labels can be somewhat distracting. Although it is something we do not always like to accept, first impressions do count. Your personal appearance and presentation style will be immediately judged and will play a part in considering your “fit” into the company you are interviewing for. It is usually something that is not even raised or commented on, but getting your presentation style compatible with theirs will go some way to convincing the interviewer that you fit in well.
We then move onto the other challenging question of how casual should I be? Well this is not an exact science, so some common sense needs to applied, the general rule of thumb is that you are always better to be slightly too smart than slightly too scruffy. If you think you might be too casual / scruffy then you probably are! It can be an uncomfortable feeling to be sitting across from a potential employer and feel massively under dressed.
There is no definitively right answer to what should be worn to the next interview and this is where your research and homework comes in. Find out about the culture of the company, the dress code and the expectations - this is very often available on the web, but if not then take the initiative to contact reception or the HR department, the recruiter or possibly friends networks that may include people employed in the company. In essence you need to take that extra step to gaining competitive advantage over your peers and other interviewees.