It’s super stressful when you’re coming up to graduation. Juggling late nights 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 feel very overwhelming. It’s a competitive environment out there and it can seem daunting. Perhaps you also have a part-time job to help with student finance and there’s the social life to manage too. When you get invited to an interview, they are often with short notice leaving you with little time to decide what to wear! CT shirts, retailers of menswear and men’s dress shirts gives us some advice guaranteed to give you an air of confidence for your step into the working world.
Casual dress can be suitable when you’re interviewing for charity work or a casual unpaid internship. For these interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and 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 and take a sneak peek if you can at what employees currently wear to work.
For women, skirts and jeans are appropriate in a casual interview — wear what you feel comfortable in. 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.
Since it’s likely to be a relaxed vibe, you shouldn’t worry too much about footwear. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels.
As a former charity worker, I would urge you to check out the type of attire people do wear as employees if you can. The charity world is diverse and it is possible casual won’t go down well with a particular charity.
For men, it can be hard to dress casually without looking too underdressed. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but similar to our advice for women, steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these may create a poor impression. A safer option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket.
Some interviews may specify business-casual attire on the invitation. This may be because they 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.
If you are unsure what to wear, formal tends to be the safer option.
With a business-casual dress code, you have more freedom with what you wear than in a strictly professional interview. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in.
Or, wear a smart shirt with a wide collar underneath a long-sleeved sweater. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as stuffy as a shirt and suit jacket.
For men, to be appropriate for a business-casual dress code, you should wear a smart shirt. 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! Remember it is not a woman’s job to iron your shirt! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased but this is avoided through the non-iron garment.
You should avoid a polo shirt, as this is too casual and still steer clear of wearing jeans unless you are absolutely 100 per cent sure that this is the dress code for the company you are visiting.
For formal interviews, you should adopt a professional look. These interviews could be in front of directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship. Even if there are less firm rules these days or in a particular company, dressing professionally demonstrates you have taken the time and effort to invest in your interview. That’s a really good sign you would invest in the job itself.
In a professional situation, women should opt for a suit. When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. If you are like me, you will worry if you are flashing the flesh so try on and ask a trusted friend to see if the outfit works well. 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. There is so much advice online from stores and stylists these days for finding the perfect suit for your 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. Also consider your journey, if you have to walk for miles or are in a dangerous area, heels are not a great option.
Men should consider wearing a suit when it comes to a formal interview, too. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Although colourful and cartoon socks may amuse you, unless you know the interviewer well, you are taking too much of a risk. The same goes for striking ties. Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. I have always loved the look of traditional shoes like brogues. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style and consider a waistcoat which always adds a certain something and can make you stand out a little.
What to avoid
As we can see, the main thing to do is to make sure you feel comfortable in your outfit — it will show in the interview! There is nothing worse than feeling that the outfit is not quite you or does not fit properly. I would also caution you to have good underwear so you really do have a firm foundation. However, there are a few things that you should avoid:
- Too much perfume or aftershave can be overpowering and unpleasant
- Too much jewellery or makeup as jewellery can get in the way as you move and make-up can stop interviewer’s seeing the real you.