Recruiting Tip: Interview Style

Throughout the years of recruiting, I’ve seen the “style” become more and more casual.  When interviewing for a job you have make sure you “look” the part of the job you are applying for.

It should go without saying that the interview is the first and only chance you’ll get to make a good impression. You may have all the qualifications in the world, but turn up looking scruffy and you’ll be headed for the exit instead of your new manager’s office. 

Psychologists estimate that just 7% of the impression you make at interview will be based on what you say. The rest will depend on how you said it and whether you looked like a convincing candidate. Dress for the job you aspire to and people will picture you in the role.

Keep it simple

In the service industry, it’s likely you’ll be wearing some sort of uniform, so it stands to reason that, even if you’re not expected to turn up to the interview in a suit, you should still dress smartly and professionally in something appropriate for the role.

But use your head: even if you’re going for a job as a chef, you’re still going to look a bit daft turning up in your whites — at least for the non-cooking stage.

Serious style

When choosing the colour of your outfit, aim for something clean and classic.

Go for one or two colours you would generally find in a uniform, e.g. black, navy or grey for your trousers or skirt with a white shirt or blouse. Avoid loud colours like orange or purple: you don’t want to sear your interviewer’s retinas with your violently-clashing colour scheme.

The fashion advice team at John Lewis Oxford Street says it’s wise to take a low key approach to looking ‘individual’ at work.

Their style guide for jobseekers advises candidates simply to add one interesting accessory (a brooch for women, for example, or a bright tie for men) to well-tailored clothes if they want to stand out from the crowd.

But remember:

Guys: while you might be remembered for wearing a crazy, unforgettable tie, it’s likely to be for the wrong reason. If you’re wearing a tie, then take it back to basics with one colour. Impress, don’t distress!

Girls: don’t go overboard by wearing your favourite party jewellery. Remember, in any job, you will be asked to keep your jewellery understated and to a minimum, so try to mimic this at interview.

Some other things to avoid:

  • Distinctive branding
  • Emblems and logos
  • Crazy patterns and bold stripes
  • Checks and tartans and florals
  • Cartoon imagery and jokey socks

And here are some more top tips from the image experts:

For the girls…

It pays to make-up: women who wear subtle makeup earn 23% more than women who go without, according to the Hamermesh-Biddle project. Makeup emphasizes eyes and mouth (the primary means of communication), but beware to avoid the rock chick look.

Don’t reveal flesh: according to the Azziz Corporation, 88% of people feel that it’s unacceptable to display a bare midriff in the workplace, making it less acceptable than visible tattoos (77%), body piercings (69%) and low-cut tops (64%).

Suits you: women have so many choices that they often shy away from the more formal suit. Suits can make a statement while remaining feminine.

For the guys…

Beard blunders: facial hair is not taboo anymore. One in three bosses now views stubble as acceptable in business, says Azziz. But concealing lips and mouth is still a barrier to communication. If you’re going for beard or stubble, you’ll need to spend more, not less, time on grooming.

Don’t be a schoolboy: badly-fitting clothes generally look like hand-me-downs.

And all the rest: don’t think you can get away with a stain on your tie, lunch in your teeth or smelling of cigarettes.

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