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For many students looking for their first job, what to wear for the interview can be a daunting choice. The best advice we can give is to dress as though you already work for the Company. That way, you will feel comfortable and the interviewer will feel reassured that you have done your homework.
To find out what is appropriate to wear you can check out the Company’s website or hang around outside their offices. Better still, ring the HR department and ask about the dress code for someone in the role for which you are applying. Don’t make the mistake of aiming too high; just because the Directors wear flash suits doesn’t mean you should – you can update your look once you have got the job but now is not the time to start making a fashion statement!
If you are applying for jobs in different sectors, don’t assume that the dress code will be the same. Unless the stated dress code is ‘casual’, err on the side of formality. Many sectors and companies are moving away from dressing down and want their staff to look more professional.
Don’t be afraid to ask whether a suit would be more appropriate than smart trousers and a jacket or, if the dress code is smart casual, whether a jacket is required.
The suit is the most important item in your wardrobe as far as the interview is concerned, so take time out to learn about what makes a good suit. You don’t need to to spend a fortune but try and spend as much as you can. Don’t be tempted to buy a suit with a view to being able to wear it to other occasions such as a wedding- you will just end up with one that doesn’t work for any occasion.
The best time to buy is in the Sale, so plan ahead and you will be able to get a much better quality suit than you would have been able to afford otherwise. Look for a style that is contemporary but not high fashion, and look for the best quality fabric. The ideal colours are grey or navy- black can look too austere and avoid patterns, stripes or any other affectations!
It is generally agreed that the simpler, the better so choose a two-buttoned suit with a single vent and your suit will last forever. Remember that the fit is all important: the shoulders should hug yours – not drip down your arms, the jacket should not be too long and the sleeves should show a bit of shirt cuff, not cover your hands.
Do not buy a suit with skinny fit trousers – think Daniel Craig not Russell Brand, and always buy two pairs of trousers as this will make your suit last longer. The length of the trousers should mean there is only one ‘break’ in the leg length. And we don’t recommend that you buy a three piece suit -pretentious, moi?!
Once you have got the right suit, the rest is simple: a good long sleeved white shirt (well ironed!), a simple dark tie (no whacky colours or logos and no skinny ties!), dark socks and a black pair of lace up shoes (never brown-keep these for wearing with jeans).
Avoid slip ons at all costs- they just look unprofessional, unless the dress code really is very casual. Never, ever forget to polish your shoes before the interview – this is virtually guaranteed to lose you that job. And don’t be tempted to appear rakish by wearing a scarf, fancy cuff links, a tie pin or handkerchief in your pocket.
Just because you’re a man, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own a coat! There is nothing worse than interviewing someone who is dripping all over the office carpet; you will just make the interview chair wet for the next person and it makes you look unprepared – this is the UK, it always rains here! Buy a coat (and we don’t mean a parka) or a raincoat and, ideally, use an umbrella, but don’t ever wear a hat!
Yes, I am afraid it has to be said because we have interviewed many a chap who hasn’t washed or combed his hair, had a shave or cleaned his nails properly. Do all of these things and have a decent haircut too!
Just in case you are still having doubts, we will leave you with this statistic: in recent research, 40% of employers stated that they had decided against hiring a candidate due to the way they were dressed.
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