Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

10 Tips On What (and What Not) to Wear At a Job Interview

By Anthony Hughes | Apr 12, 2016 | Candidate Tips

woman in a bright fuschia suitI once interviewed someone who decided to wear a bright (and I mean bright) purple suit, red tie and shoes.

He definitely caught my attention – but not necessarily for the right reasons.

In fact, I found the entire ensemble pretty distracting and it was quite obvious that he did too.

Perhaps if the purple-suited candidate had been really, really great I would have overlooked the faux pas, but as it stands, I remember very little of what he actually said.

Now, I’m not exactly a “fashion guru” but I do know what impresses recruiters (and what doesn’t).

Here are my top 10 tips on what to wear at a job interview!

1. Don’t be too ‘out there’

I know – you’re supposed to ‘stand out’ at an interview.

But dressing outlandishly is probably not the best way to do it, especially if you can’t back it up with any real substance – often it just comes across that you’re trying a little too hard to be different.

Instead, wow us with your intellect, passion and interesting personality.

2. Don’t be too boring

This is where you have to strike a balance.

You don’t want to come across too weird and wacky, but you also don’t want to look like you’ve got no personality whatsoever.

You can jazz up any outfit with a splash of colour to accessories or your tie or socks.

But again – don’t go too far (no purple suits).

3. Make sure you are comfortable

Interviews are nerve-racking enough; is it really a good idea to add the strain of an ill-fitting and restrictive outfit into the mix?

Rigid suits, overly tight pencil skirts and itchy jumpers are all common sources of discomfort.

It’s guaranteed to show in your body language in the form of fidgeting, stiffness and/or visible frustration.

4. Especially your shoes

I know I’ve already talked about comfort, but shoes really do deserve their own section.

Ladies; just don’t do it to yourself!

Your new 6 inch heels may look fabulous but tottering about and falling over do not.

Basically, just don’t wear anything that you don’t feel comfortable or able to walk in.

(At Coburg Banks you have to walk up three flights of stairs to get to our boardroom…)

Flats are also absolutely fine.

5. Make sure everything is neat and clean

Always make sure your outfit is ready a couple of days before your interview – just in case. You don’t want to wake up on the morning to find an unwashed, crinkled up shirt and scuffed shoes.

Your outfit should be clean (obviously), ironed and removed of all fluff and bobbly bits – NO HOLES.

Your shoes should be polished.

6. Don’t overdo the fragrance

Try not to overdo it on the aftershave and/or perfume – there is (definitely) such a thing as too much.

A couple of spritzes should do the trick – you don’t want to suffocate interviewers in a small room.

7. Be wary of jewellery and/or tattoos

It is fine to wear some sort of accessory during an interview – just don’t overdo it. (Do you really need a ring on every finger?!)

You should also be aware that some employers will be put off by visible tattoos and piercings (like nose, lip and tongue).

It may not be right, but unfortunately it’s true.

(Click here to read more on the topic.)

8. Get grooming

I’m not going to tell you how you should wear your hair, how much gel to apply and whether you should wear make-up or not.

Just make sure your overall appearance comes across professional and tidy.

Your hair should definitely be neat and your nails should NEVER be dirty!

9. Never, ever, ever…

…wear jeans, trainers, a t-shirt or (goodness forbid) any sort of tracksuit.

(Or a clown suit, for that matter).

10. Play it safe, suit up

The safest outfit you can wear for an interview is a suit.

Think about it; if you underdress, you might look sloppy, indifferent or even lazy.

If you overdress, your interviewer will know that it’s just a part of the normal, interview protocol – in fact, that it’s etiquette.

You can always jazz things up with the tips we’ve given above (nice accessories, a different colour, patterns) – but sometimes it’s just best to keep it simple.

We’re interested in your personality – let that shine through.

(You’d be surprised how much clothing can impact your attitude and career – click here to find out why you should be suiting up more regularly).

First impressions do count…

Of course, the most important thing that you should wear to an interview is that big, friendly smile!

Recruiter Pro Tip

After their initial first impressions of what you’re wearing and how presentable you are, the next thing your interviewer will probably notice is your body language.

That’s why things like good posture, a firm handshake and a big smile are so important.

If you’d like some tips on how to improve your interview body language, click here.

Next, it’s time to start thinking about interview questions and how to answer them.

Need more tips on interviewing, job-seeking and your career in general? Click here to subscribe to this blog today. We’ll send over a short email each week with our latest post.

Good luck

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

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