Dress for Success: What to Wear for an Interview?
You did it! You got through the initial selection rounds including your resume and cover letter, phone or video screening (or a combination of the two) and are invited for an interview. If you are diligent enough, now’s the time you probably start researching the organisation, re-familiarise yourself with the position description and prepare some questions for the interviewer. Your next step is to make a positive impression by wearing the right clothes. After all, you’ve only got seven seconds to make a first impression!
You may be thinking: ‘Hang on, shouldn’t they be assessing my knowledge, experience and attitude?’ And they ARE. They, however, look at you as a whole, including how visually presentable you are. The demands will differ depending on the industry and/or whether the position you are applying for is external client-facing, but there are certain standards the employers expect.
This might seem straightforward, but believe me – it can become tricky. For example, what if you are invited for an “informal chat in a local coffee shop”? Do you still need to come dressed as for a formal office interview? What if you are having an interview at this very cool startup and the interviewers are either your age or just a couple of years older than you?
We recently shortlisted candidates for one of the large Australian banks. Although the first interview was really a chat over a coffee to determine candidate’s suitability to the business, they were advised to wear business attire as they were meeting with a person from the corporate world. The candidate did not take the advice into account, wore shorts and eventually did not progress to the second interview with a business partner for that very reason.
There is a thin line, but as the golden rule says: it is better to be overdressed than under-dressed.
Let’s look at the standard and recommended attire that you can tweak later on according to the company or industry:
Suits and shirts
Stick with more conservative colours such as blue, black or grey for a suit and complement the look with a shirt in greys, whites, creams or blacks. Muted colours can also work, but stay away from bright colours.
A dress or skirt should be long enough to cover your thighs when seated. Do not wear anything too revealing.
You might tick all these boxes but if your clothes are stained, missing buttons, not fitting properly or not ironed, the overall impression is damaged.
Rule number one: wear professional shoes that are comfortable. If you are not used to wearing heels, don’t start just for the interview. It would be another thing to worry about. Stilettos or platform shoes are off the list.
Your shoes should be in an impeccable condition – clean, polished and not scuffed.
Too much jewellery is a no-no. The same with sunglasses. Be sure to not only take them off but do not leave them sitting on your head.
Bags should complement the whole outfit, so please no sports bags, fabric tote bags and similar.
Need a suit?
And last but not least, if you don’t have a suit hanging in your wardrobe, why not hire a suit from UTS:Careers and look stylish for your next interview? Head over to our Resources Booking website and see our range. This is FREE of charge until April 2017, for all UTS students as part of our commitment to make sure you’re employable as possible and career-ready!
Whether you’re male or female, we’ve got you covered. So suit up, and grab that dream role with both hands.
The take away
Hopefully this gives you a good picture on the standard business attire. If you are unsure of what to wear, or are applying for a corporate grad program or role, stick with this.
In most cases, banks, large professional services, consulting or law firms require strict business attire and this applies to interviews as well. (Exceptions of the rule exists: PwC recently scrapped their old dress code policy and ask their employees to dress for the day, but you would still want to come dressed in a business clothes for the interview)
If you’ve got an interview in one of those exciting startups or within more creative or non-corporate industry (digital agencies, fashion magazines, art galleries, etc.) and are not afraid of adding a bit of edge to your clothes, great! Instead of wearing a conservative one-colour tie, replace it with bolder colours (maybe one that is represented in the company’s branding) or a daring print. Ladies can opt for adding a statement piece (accessories, shoes or a top). Make sure you don’t overdo it, and stick with adding just one statement piece. Keep in mind that despite all of that, your clothes should not be too revealing and heels not too high.
Sometimes the interview invitation states recommended attire – then it’s easy! For example, THE ICONIC advises their candidates: We work in fashion, show us your style!
And sometimes the company research may bring up some pictures of their staff at events or in their office which would help you understand the company culture and level of creativity. Again, remember that although you saw current staff dressed very casually, that does not mean that you can come dressed casually to the interview.
Remember: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”.
If you are still unsure about what’s appropriate and what’s not, don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter or interviewer for a hint.
The UTS:Careers ‘Interview Tips: Style Guide’ booklet can be collected from the UTS:Careers Service (CB01.04.13) if you’d like a comprehensive overview, great examples and clothing recommendations.
Finally, here are a few great links on what to wear to an interview, if you still need a bit more help:
- ‘What to wear to a job interview’ – by A Minute Away from Snowing (Vogue Australia)
- ‘What to wear to an interview, really’ – SEEK
- ‘Style star: How to dress for success’ – by Stacey Vanoska (CareerOne)
Don’t have an interview coming up, but want to practice your new work-wear style know-how? Come along to the UTS Careers Fair. The Fair is a fantastic way to connect with employers, learn more about your industry, and discover what opportunities are available to you. It’s a great opportunity to practice making a good first impression, while building your professional network – so register today!
Date: 1st March 2017
Location: UTS Tower Building
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
By Veronika Vesela
Business Development Officer
Veronika Vesela is a UTS Careers Business Development Officer, helping increase the number of internship and other employment-related opportunities available to UTS Students. Before joining UTS, she worked as an online editor with a Health and Fashion & Beauty focus, social media coordinator in a digital marketing agency and an internship consultant. She believes that this diverse mix of skills allows her to connect UTS Students and Graduates well with the industry.