| 25th August 2018

What To Wear To An Interview

You’ve got a job interview! Congrats! Now, what to wear?

Like it or not, people make opinions based on the way others look and dress, which is why it’s so important to dress for the job you want, and not for the job you already have. You’ve got a job interview! Congrats! Now, what to wear?

Before you even open your mouth in a job interview, the interviewer has already formed some kind of opinion on you, based on the way you’re dressed.  Studies have shown that although we were taught never to judge a book by its cover, we form a first impression on someone after the first five seconds of meeting them, and it can take up to 21 successive experiences to change that first opinion. Yikes!

This is why it’s so important when going for a job interview, to dress for the job you want, and not for the job you have.  Because you wouldn’t be there in the first place if you didn’t want it, right?

What should you not wear to a job interview?

For something very serious and formal like a job interview, we think it would be important to pin down what you shouldn’t wear first. After all, you want to be memorable for your answers and not for a fashion faux pas

Here are several outfits and accessories you should stay away from: 

  • Bright-colored articles of clothing: An accent on your clothes to make it pop is okay… but if you start looking like a Picasso painting when you’re interviewing for a business executive job, it may not be appropriate. 
  • Flip flops: Unless you’re applying for a surfer instructor position and they want you to do a demo, flip flops are a no-no. 
  • Soiled or stained clothing: Wearing something from the dirty clothes hamper is just being disrespectful. It’s telling your interviewer that you don’t care enough to dress up properly for them. 
  • Casual clothing: So what if the company has a relaxed dress code? Does this mean you can show up in casual clothes for the interview? The answer is no. Though you do not want to appear too formal, you still want to look professional. Avoid wearing t-shirts, especially if it has distracting or disrespectful prints. 
  • Gym attire: You may look great in athleisure but wearing sweatpants during the interview is still a blatant sign that you’re not taking the job interview too seriously. 
  • Ill-fitting clothes: Maybe you got the look right but if the fit is wrong, it gives the impression that you are unprepared.
  • Accessories that are too flashy: Are you thinking of wearing overly large earrings and layered necklaces that take the attention away from your face? Think twice before putting on flashy accessories that can distract your interviewer.
  • Too much makeup: If you’re a pro at makeup, you should already know that the makeup you wear to the club is different from the one you wear at work. 
  • Short shorts, skirts, or low-cut tops: We know you look amazing! Wearing those sexy outfits may make you feel confident but showing too much skin may work to your disadvantage. Remember that you’re going to an interview and not a date or a party! There’s always going to be another time to show off that sexy little dress! 
  • Trendy pieces: Opt for classic pieces instead of trendy wear. Unless you plan to work in the fashion industry, tried-and-tested articles of clothing never fail to impress.

Interview outfit: FAQs 

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about job interview attires…

What kind of shoes should I wear to a job interview?

Dark-coloured footwear is always favoured over pastel hues. In terms of the type of footwear that gives off “hire me” vibes, Oxfords, and flats are the way to go. 

Pro-tip: Ditch the athletic socks. If you’re wearing pants, choose something that goes along with that color. 

What to wear for a summer job interview?

The rule of thumb is if it makes you feel uncomfortable, you will have trouble focusing on answering the questions properly. With temperatures rising, wear clothes made of breathable fabric. A light blouse paired with khakis or dress pants will do the trick. 

You may also wear dresses paired with a smart-looking blazer. Just make sure the dress has a solid color and knee-length at the very least.

What to wear for a video call interview? 

Multinational companies often do the first rounds of their interviews via video calls. The same is being done for candidates who are applying from an overseas location. During lockdowns due to the global pandemic, a lot of companies are also using online interviews as a way to screen their candidates. 

So how do you dress up for a video call interview? Easy. The same thing you would wear for an in-person interview, with a few considerations. 

First, know what kind of background you have for the call. Choose a color that would not blend in the background. (Say, a blue shirt that has the same tone as your wall paint…) Your future employer won’t find it funny if they’re talking to a floating head! 

Second, check the lighting of the room. Certain colors don’t look so well on camera, like white. Since white or bright yellow bounces off light, you may look extra sparkly or washed out. (That’s just a video production term for looking too pale!) 

Now, some of you may ask — should you wear trousers or dress the lower half of your body even if they only see the upper half on screen? It is recommended that you do. After all, you never know when you may need to stand up! You may need to excuse yourself at some point and heavens forbid they see your pajamas!

Plus, dressing up properly from head to toe also helps with your mood. Wearing the full ensemble just puts you in the right state of mind. 

What to wear for an interview abroad? 

If you’re interviewing for a company based in another country, it’s advisable to do extra research about that place and its culture. If you’re flying in for the interview, you may also want to check the usual weather in that country.

For example, if you’re going to a tropical and humid country, a heavy tweed suit may look good but it may not feel good. 

How should I wear my hair for a job interview?

Repeat this to yourself: Sleek and classy. A tried-and-tested hairdo is a low ponytail or a low chignon bun. High buns can also work if you make sure they’re neatly done. Feel free to slather on pomade to keep away flyaway hair. 

Interview outfit: Do’s and Don’ts

While there are no strict do’s and don’ts when it comes to dressing up for your dream job, it’s still nice to have some guidelines, right? 

Is it OK to wear jeans for an interview?

The answer to this question is: It depends. IT professionals, who do not face clients on a daily basis, may get away with dark-coloured jeans (given they are not ripped or bedazzled!) but for a sales job, one may require a more formal attire.  

Can you be overdressed for an interview?

Yes, you can be overdressed. You’re not going to a gala but a job interview. Go with business casual or smart casual outfits to be safe. What’s the difference? This handy table will tell you which is what: 

Attire Men Women
Business Casual Khakis, polo shirt, collared shirt. Dress shoes or loafers.  Dress pants, khakis, casual skirt. Heels with simple jewellery. 
Smart Casual  Denim, sport coat with khakis, trousers, vests. Ties are optional. Slacks or skirt. Dark jeans with a collared top and blazer. 
Business Business suit with tie or slacks with a sports jacket and tie.  Business suit or business dress, best paired with simple heels. 
Semi-Formal  Dark suit and long tie.  Black or other dark-coloured dress. Evening dress with strappy heels. 

Is it unprofessional to wear your hair down for a job interview?

It’s still up to you if you want to wear your hair down, but it can look messy. If you’re also wearing lip gloss or lipstick, loose strands can get stuck on your lips. It can also distract you during the job interview. Imagine trying to pat it down or keep strands away from your face.

If you really want to wear your hair down, make sure you have a clip or hairpins that can help keep your hair neat and slick!

Is it okay to wear flats to an interview?

Yes, you can wear flats. Closed-toe flats are preferred, like those cute ballerina shoes. Choose a dressy kind that goes well with your attire. Just make sure they’re well-polished and not scratched or dirty. 

If you’re worried about the commute to the place of the interview, what others do is wear flat shoes during the commute and change in to heels in the bathroom of the office. (Just make sure you arrive ahead of time so you can change!)

Is it bad to wear all black to an interview?

No, it’s not bad, but you may be taken as someone who is too serious. (So it really depends on what kind of image you want to project.) 

If you do choose to wear a black dress, you can soften your look by layering it with a blazer of another color. Traditionally, shades of blue and gray are the best.

Should I wear nail polish for an interview?

Yes, it’s okay to wear coloured nail polish but stick to neutral colors. Beige, white, or clear are okay. Most importantly, make sure they are not peeling! 

Tips on putting together your interview outfit 

A job interview entails you putting together a professional attire that will be representative of your position when you are offered a place at the company. This can still vary depending on the industry but usually, men are expected to wear a suit jacket with slacks. For women, a smart blouse with dress pants or a statement dress with a blazer will do the trick.

Here are other pointers you may want to consider when planning your business interview ensemble: 

Dress appropriately for the job industry 

So, first things first, consider the job you’re applying for.  If your interview is for a position at a top fashion magazine, chances are you’re going to dress pretty differently then if you were going for a position in a solicitor’s office.  So keep this in mind when choosing your outfit.

Confidence is key

You wouldn’t go into a job interview believing that you have 0 ability to do the actual job at hand, so why would you wear something that makes you feel uncomfortable?  You may struggle to answer some tricky interview questions, but struggling with a low-cut top, or pants-suit that’s just too tight, is a no-no!

Put your best foot forward

Keep your 5″ heels for Saturday night.  There’s nothing worse than struggling to walk in a pair of shoes that are just too high.  It’s recommended that a comfortable mid-sized heel, with a closed toe is most appropriate for a job interview.

Makeup, jewellery: less is more 

This applies to many things.  First up, makeup.  While you want to present yourself in the best possible way, try and keep your makeup to a natural everyday look.  Don’t go trying out something wild just because you have a bit of time to spend on it.  Next, jewellery.  Again, if you’re going for a job in a creative or fashion-led industry, then a statement necklace should be fine, but if your position is more conservative, keep jewellery to one ring on each hand, and a pair of studs.  Lastly, your perfume.  You don’t want to bathe in perfume before heading into your interview, only to find your interviewer is wildly allergic to strong scents.

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