Is there anything worse than the painful ritual of job hunting? That’s easy — the interview. In this post, we’ll show you how to answer that tired question: “what should I wear to an interview?”
You’ve put in hours of research and scoped out your ideal job; you’re confident that you would be a good fit and are fully behind the organisation’s mission. You can even imagine yourself in various scenarios at your new place of work. And it’s not just a pipe dream, either: you’ve landed yourself an interview and are one step closer to getting your dream job. All that’s left to do now is to nail the interview and take that step up the career ladder. There’s just one problem: interviews are far from easy.
Designed to intimidate even the most self-assured of us, interviews test our ability to stay calm and collected. The old cache, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, just doesn’t cut it in an interview context. However well you’ve read the job description; however many hours you’ve spent rehearsing potential answers in front of the mirror; however much of a good fit you are for the job, interviews largely come down to luck and, unfortunately, there’s just no way to prepare for that. Unplanned questions, spontaneous examinations, brutal character analysis and the unnerving presence of other eager interviewees can easily put you off your game.
Thankfully, there is one thing you can prepare: your look. ‘Dress to impress’ may sound like a tired cliche, but, like all good cliches, it’s grounded in fact. In this post, we’ll show you what to wear to an interview and why your choice of attire may just be the most important part of the interview process.
The Science behind Dressing for Success
If you conclude that your interview will last the standard 30-45 minutes and that’s how long you have to make your case and impress your interviewer, we’re sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re way off. Scientific research shows us that your interviewer will have already made a judgement about you within the first seven seconds of meeting you, meaning you have just a few valuable seconds to make a positive impression on your potential future boss.
It may sound unfair, but we’re a visual species and making snap decisions based on initial appearance and our gut feeling is just the way our brain functions. Think about it: have you ever made a sudden detour so that you can avoid walking down a dark alley at night, or decided not to purchase the unbelievably cheap Gucci watch touted at a market stall? These snap decisions are informed by visual stimuli that we use to determine whether something is off. Your interviewer is no different. Their initial judgement of you is based on the signals that they glean from your appearance: clearly, seven seconds is not long enough to convey your sparkling personality. An ill-fitting, crinkled suit will suggest that you’re lazy and unmotivated, while a sharply-tailored suit will suggest that you’re smart, well-put-together and professional, regardless of whether or not this is actually the case.
As if that wasn’t enough to make you fret, you only have one chance to make a first impression. It’s far easier to reaffirm a positive assumption than to disprove a negative one. Giving off the right impression from the moment you step through the door is integral and, if you’re still not convinced of this, research has found that 75% of hiring managers cite poor fashion choices and personal presentation as the biggest mistake made by interviewees — that’s a pretty good incentive for dressing right for your interview.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
It’s a well-accepted notion that appearance informs our perceptions of intelligence, capability and reliability. Case and point: we’re more inclined to trust a doctor wearing a lab coat than a hoodie and ripped jeans. But did you also know that your sartorial decisions have the same effect on the way you view yourself?
A study at Northwestern University found that, when recipients donned a lab coat, they performed better in science tests. But when they rocked an artist’s smock, they demonstrated increased creativity and artistic ability. It seems that our clothes influence our perceptions of ourselves and our abilities. You can use this to your advantage. If you dress like a boss, you feel more like a boss, meaning you’ll completely boss any situation you find yourself in. It’s an important takeaway to consider when planning your interview outfit. You want to give off an air of confidence and self-assuredness that will dazzle your interviewer. By choosing clothes that make you feel good and look the part, you’re already halfway there. As it turns out, faking it ‘til you make it is pretty sound advice.
What Should You Wear to an Interview?
No two interviews are the same. Interviewing for a broker position at a bank will be an entirely different experience than interviewing at a funky tech start-up. Different industries set and expect different standards. We no longer live in a time when business is all about black suits and leather suitcases, so it’s important to take the time to find out what your interviewer expects from you.
Even though there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to dressing for an interview, there are some fail-safe styling tips that you can implement to ensure you make a killer impression.
You can’t go wrong with a suit
We know we just said that business and suits are no longer synonymous, but when it comes to making that crucial first impression, you really can’t go wrong with one. Suits never fail to make an elegant sartorial statement and they’re also incredibly versatile. If you’ve got your eye on a position at an established law firm steeped in tradition, then our navy herringbone tweed three-piece is just the ticket. Classic, timeless and refined, the navy, high-quality fabric projects professionalism and style. If your dream employer is a fun media agency, our maroon barleycorn two-piece is a great choice. The bold colour gives off a playful, yet suave, vibe that will help you stand out from the rest.
Get the tailored look
There’s nothing worse than a poorly-fitted outfit. A baggy jacket will make it look like you’ve borrowed your dad’s old workwear in a game of dress up, while wearing trousers that are too tight will have you bursting at the seams. To get a fit that’s just right, you need a tailored suit. Tailored suits are made with your measurements in mind, ensuring that the end result is a suit made specifically for you. Our selection of hand-made tailored suits are made by artisan tailors at affordable prices — it’s an investment you won’t regret and that can serve you time and time again, interview or not.
Let it breathe
We’re all prone to getting flustered in interviews, but sweat stains are never a good look. To keep your cool under pressure, invest in a breathable fabric, such as wool, cotton or tweed, and avoid cheap polyester and synthetic fabrics. All of our suits are cut from the finest fabrics to keep sweat stains at bay, no matter how intense the interview gets.
Keep it simple and understated...
Hawaiian shirts, garish colours and flashy bling have no place in an interview. Think of your clothes as the supporting act: you want to be remembered for your skill, experience and professionalism — not your statement shirt — so keep colours neutral and classic, and avoid bold patterns.
…But Add Some Personality
Although you want to keep your fashion simple, that doesn’t mean you have to dress like everyone else. An interview is a chance for you to present yourself and show what an excellent asset you would be. Of course, your glib and charismatic personality will do most of the heavy lifting, but adding individual touches to your outfit will make you memorable long after you walk out the door. Ties and pocket squares are a stylish way to add a splash of colour and character to your look, because there’s still room for creativity and fun in even the stuffiest office atmosphere.
Interviews can be intimidating, but finding the perfect outfit doesn’t have to be. Browse our collection of suits and accessories and never again spend time running around trying to decide what you should wear to an interview.