“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”
A neat quote, and one that has very much truth to it. We all know that first impressions are crucial. Within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone, your brain is already starting to make decisions and assumptions about the character of your counterpart. One of those important assumptions base on appearance, so you should make sure that you ace your look in order to make a great first (and lasting) impression. Your attire makes a huge portion of that statement about who you are – before you even open your mouth that is.
When choosing suitable attire for your interview, always opt for clothing that adds to a powerful outfit. Over the years, our culture has evolved and developed dress codes such as “business casual”, “casual Fridays”, – dress codes that, until recently, has been unheard of.
Nowadays it is more challenging to tell if any one company still abides by a classic business formal dress code, or instead has opted for a more laid back, creative vibe.
That being said, you shouldn’t go in to an interview looking overly casual either.
So, what exactly is today’s interview dress code?
The perfect interview dress code doesn’t exist
The fact of the matter is that an all-encompassing interview dress code simply no longer exists. Each company has developed its own rules, expectations, and corporate culture – and it is your responsibility to do some research to discover what they are. The main goal here is to try to look like you seamlessly belong with the company– like you are its long lost staff member.
Every company is different.
One of the easiest ways to figure out a company’s corporate and dress code culture is to pay the company a visit, to observe what everyone else is wearing.
If employees are wearing jeans and T-shirts, then it’s a safe bet that you don’t need to pull out and put on that 3-piece charcoal suit and silk tie out from your closet.
However, don’t emulate their style just yet by thinking that you can throw on that T-shirt and favourite pair of jeans. They already have the job. You don’t.
Always choose professionalism, even if the company is of a more laid back nature.
Business formal companies: Sales, Finance, Management
For these types of interviews, the best bet is to dress as professionally as possible. You need to look like you’ve already achieved greatness, and that you possess all the confidence in the world– even if you don’t.
The 2- and 3-piece charcoal suit and necktie is definitely a safe go-to interview choice for a business formal interview. Stick to darker, solid suit colours and a simple necktie. Customise your look with a bold dress shirt color, and add a little unexpected touch, so as not to come off as too stiff if you like.
Keep accessories to a minimum – however, a great watch is always welcome.
Business casual companies: Start-Ups, tech, and small companies
Business casual companies tend to be a little trickier to dress for. Do you go for the full suit ensemble, or leave the suit altogether? It really depends on the company. Do a bit of research via LinkedIn, Google, etc., and dress to fit in with the corporate culture.
A sport coat and trouser pants can be an appropriate choice for this type of interview. Unlike business formal, you have a bit more free choice to experiment with and personalise your look. Mix and match suit separates, opt for that statement necktie, wear bold socks – just make sure that the choices you do make go seamlessly together and are not overdone.
The last thing that you’d want to do is to make your outfit look too busy when it comes to colours. Have fun, but be cautious when it comes to interview dressing. You don’t want to distract from your skills and qualifications. Instead, you want to exude confidence and show that you are a perfect fit for the company because of your personality and merits.
Creative companies: Ad agencies, design-, arts-, and entertainment industries
In the creative industry, you’ll have a lot to prove, and tons of competition to push out of the way. One of the things that you’;; have to prove, beyond being competent of course, is that you have unique creative edge and vision – and that you aren’t afraid to show it either. This is by far the hardest interview attire to gauge, because it widely varies based on the position in question, as well as the company that you’re interviewing with. Definitely do your research to make sure that you dress appropriately.
Sometimes a dress shirt and necktie will suffice, other times a full suit is necessary.
You’ll have to be the judge when it comes to the impression that you’d like to make. When wearing a suit, add in an unexpected piece like funky pants, or a patterned dress shirt to show off your creativity. Just make sure that whatever it is you wear, it is clean, fitted, and indicative of yourself.
No matter where you interview, always make sure you dress to impress.
Along with attire, make sure you are well-groomed, clean shaven, and well (but not overly) accessorised.
Keep cologne to a bare minimum, if at all. Make sure to be knowledgeable of the company you are interviewing for, and that you are prepared to show how well-researched you are. If you keep all of these tips in mind, you should be suited up for success. Good luck, gents!