The university life isn’t all about late-night parties and student discounts. Juggling evenings at the library for revision, spending hours meeting that 10,000-word target for your dissertation, and trying to find a job to walk into after graduation can get a bit much. Not to mention that part-time job. When you eventually get invited to an interview, they are often with short notice and come around quickly — leaving you with little time to decide what to wear! So, how do you dress appropriately for different interviews, both formal and casual?
Kind of interview: professional
A professional interview might leave you feeling nervous, but you can help counter your anxiety by wearing the right outfit. You want to look your best here — your appearance certainly counts! With the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles.
A well-fitted suit looks ideal at a formal interview, and it’s what your interviewer will be expecting. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style, a slim leg may be best suited for you and your shape.
Women should also consider a sleek, formal suit at these events. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel.
Kind of interview: casual
CT Shirts, retailers of mens shirts and women’s business suits are perfect for formal events, a casual interview doesn’t require such ‘official’ outfits. For these interviews, it is likely that they will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing.
Casual interviews are growing in popularity, but some men run the risk of looking underdressed — not good when you want to look keen on a job. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these will not give off the best impression. A safe option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket.
Be careful that you don’t get too ahead of yourself when it comes to dressing for a casual interview. To ensure you still look presentable, you should avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of slacks or jeans. We recommend not going for trainers and high heels, either. Pumps or ankle boots will be better!
Kind of interview: business casual
The ‘business casual’ dress code remains a popular option when it comes to interviews in the UK for most industries. This may be because employers have this dress code in the office or it may be for an assessment day where you are expected to be there all day and recruiters want you to feel comfortable.
Not sure? Your safest bet is to overdress than go in to an interview looking too casual!
It’s all about the shirt in these interviews for men. Why not invest in a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can crease — something you can avoid with a non-iron garment. Just remember to leave the polo shirt and jeans in the wardrobe.
There are lots of outfit choices you can try for these types of interviews as a woman. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in. Alternatively, you can wear a dress shirt with a wide collar and pull a long-sleeved thin jumper over the top. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket.
What not to wear…
At an interview, your priorities should be to do your research, show up on time, and be enthusiastic and confident — but dressing well is also important. Don’t wear too much in the way of accessories, jewellery or makeup. These will just be an annoyance during an interview and could distract you or the interviewer. Also, avoid putting on lots of perfume or aftershave — you don’t want to overpower the situation!