Dress to impress for an interview

Blog by Kelly.

I’ve heard many people say in my 10 years working in the employability sector

“I’m only going for a cleaning job/care job/construction job, I’m hardly going to wear a suit to my interview”.

I’ve also read interview invite letters that say “dress code; smart/casual”. With all kinds of differing advice, it’s little wonder people are so confused about what they should wear to impress their potential new employer.

There are 3 main things to think about when deciding what to wear for interview.

1/ People make judgements within the first few seconds of meeting someone. It is human nature and it is extremely difficult to alter a first impression once made. With an interviewer, this judgement will begin with appearance. So, it is key to be well groomed. Ensuring hair is washed and brushed, teeth are clean, clothing fits well and is clean and ironed, shoes are polished.

People have often asked me about things like jewellery and perfume/aftershave before. There is a real balance to be struck here. These can be ways to assist getting your personality across, particularly if you are going for creative type roles. However, I always stipulate if you wear anything that is likely to be off putting for the interviewer, think again. You want to be remembered for the person with the best answers, not the person who made the panel all sneeze because your scent was overpowering. Or nobody could remember you other than the noise your 40 gold bracelets made every time you moved.

2/ Think about how your clothing makes you feel and what this does to your brain. When I am in pyjamas or leggings, my brain begins to slow down as it recognises the feeling with being near bedtime. When I wear a good fitting dress, I stand a bit taller and feel more confident. This helps my brain to focus and I’m much more likely to give more positive answers. If I wear shoes with a little heel, I walk differently too. If I feel more confident, I’ll no doubt give a better interview. If I’m wearing clothing that doesn’t fit, I’ll fidget and be focussed on this rather than the questions I need to answer. Give yourself the best possible chance of success by wearing good clothes.

If you haven’t got anything you feel great in, there are 2 charities in Edinburgh that can help, and we can book your appointment.

Smart Works assist women prepare for interview by providing coaching and a high-quality outfit to wear.

Similarly, Grassroots in Edinburgh will do the same (without the coaching but we can help with that) for men. Here is what Archie Lowe says about dressing for interview

‘The only impression at an interview, is the 1st impression.  Get the look right with help from Grassroots Clothing, who offer a free to keep interview clothes.

Think about what the job is about and dress appropriately to impress, informal could be anything from smart shirt and dress trousers, to the more formal suit look.  What you wear says everything about you, so make it count.”

3/ Know what kind of interview you are attending. This may affect your clothing decision. If it’s a panel interview, competency interview or zoom interview etc. I’d be advising to go as smart as you can. However, if you are attending a group interview (usually for retail and hospitality industries), you might want to be a little more casual. These interviews tend to be activity led and you may find yourself standing on chairs, pinning balloons and tinfoil to the roof. Do you really want to be in that short skirt and high heels?

A short story…

Finally, I just want to finish with a short story that happened when I was running training with a group of younger gentlemen on interview skills. They were not convinced at all about turning up smart as they were all looking for work in construction. They told me about going on site and how mucky it can be and how they would be wearing heavy boots, jeans and grubby overalls when on the job. So, surely it wouldn’t matter what they wore. I invited several employers in from the industry and every single one said something similar:

“If a lad comes in wearing a suit and another wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I’m taking the one in the suit more seriously. I’m not looking to see what you look like on the job, I’m looking to see how much you want the job in the first place.’

Best of luck and do contact us for any interview support you may need – 0333 005 5103