Interview style: Dressing to impress the boss


How to look great for an interview (by the man in the monkey hat) 

Danté Szafranski

For third years like myself, the daunting prospect of ‘adulthood’ is hurtling towards us at a bewildering pace. There seems like an inordinate amount of obstacles to outmanoeuvre on the way to landing a coveted (or financially rewarding) grad job and if you’re one of the lucky few to navigate these successfully and receive a call for an interview, you inevitably get caught up in the Grinchian conundrum of ‘but what should I wear?’

Not since the era of non-school uniform days at secondary school have we felt such pressure; simply put, it can make or break you.

Firstly, you need to do your research whether or not the company has a more relaxed state or not. If so, don’t take liberties. Don’t turn up wearing Chuck Taylor’s and showing off your combination of piercings and/or tattoos. This is an opportunity to go smart casual, meaning a smart trouser and a shirt (no band tees). Count yourself lucky if you’re in this situation, you might still feel like you’re not completely surrendering yourself to the corporate devil!

For the more formal interview, there is no need to go all Patrick Bateman in this situation. There is no to spend an exorbitant amount of money on suits by Armani and ties by Agnes B; in fact, if you were to dress like Bateman, the bigger fit of the early nineties suits would most likely garner uncontrollable laughter from your interviewer! With this, my first recommendation is to find a suit THAT FITS. Do not get a suit that is too big or too small –be aware of the very small fitting of Topman suits- as this comes across as unprofessional. Do you think a client wants to take on a graduate who can’t find clothes to fit?

As for the colour of the suit, try avoid to black. It is the most common choice by most men (not just graduates) and many graduate employers complain of their reception area looking like a wake on interview day. There are plenty of dark-coloured suits to choose from and my recommendation would be a dark blue, navy or grey suit. These are versatile as they allow for a wide range of shirt, tie and shoe combinations.

The same goes for shirts as it does for suits. There may be a temptation to try show off muscles by walking in to an interview with a medium shirt when you should have a large. Don’t. Make sure the shirt fits well but is not restrictive (allows for passionate gesticulation in the interview!) and that the collar doesn’t make your face turn purple or flap in the wind. As for the shirt colour, don’t be audacious. Don’t think a bright colour against your dark suit or a crazy pattern will make you stand out. Well, it may do, but for all the wrong reasons. White usually works best but if you’re especially daring, a light pastel colour might tickle your fancy.

The tie is where the splash of colour comes in. This small piece of material is maybe where you represent your personality with colour. Don’t pick a skinny tie (this isn’t prom), you’re becoming a man now! Be willing to spend on a tie as it is one of the focal points of your outfit and can distract away from an average shirt.

Finally, the shoes. With a dark suit, rock some tan or dark brown leather brogues (nice and polished) and make sure your belt matches (no bling or Bat signals guys).

Don’t forget to shower and shave and be well kept; no client wants a man channelling his inner Gimli from day one.

Best of luck to all the third years with interviews (insert motivational cliché here).

Let your wardrobe speak for you, and the rest will come naturally!

Georgina Jones

The hardest stage of getting a job is usually the first application: getting them to take you out of a very large pile and put you into a relatively smaller one. However, you’re still in a pile, and chances are those other applicants are just as qualified as you are for the job.

Here comes the interview. It’s likely that you’re feeling pretty nervous about it. Interviews are nerve-wracking, that’s a given, but turn up in the perfect outfit and at least you’re removing the stress from one area. It’s an important area. As much as we’d all like to believe that it’s about what you say, not how you look, an employer will make a judgement of you before you’ve even opened your mouth or put your hand out for a handshake. It’s something we humans can’t help. If you walk in confidently, at ease and in the perfect outfit, then you’re making it a lot easier for them to judge you positively.

Appearance isn’t everything, let me stress this, but when it comes to an interview you can’t take any chances. Show up looking your best and then work your magic.

Depending on the type of job you’re going for, your outfit is going to vary. If you’re heading into a corporate interview then your keywords for yourself should be ‘simplistic’ and ‘smart’, but the idea is also to be memorable. It’s likely that 90% of the people there will show up in all monochrome, but don’t be afraid to mix in a few colours, even if it’s something as little as a grey or navy blue shirt instead of white. In colour psychology, grey suggests affluence and practicality, whilst blue reflects a sense of trustworthiness and dependability. This is something businesses want from their employees, so take that into consideration.

With interviews where you have a little more flexibility in what you could wear, such as advertising companies, fashion houses, writing and editing jobs, you need to display your creativity and originality as much in what you wear, as you do in the words you speak. It must be hard for an interviewer to sit and listen to you say you’re innovative in all areas of your life when you’re wearing a black skirt and plain shirt.

My newest favourite formal item has to be the cigarette pant. Wearing a different style of trouser than the norm (the straight, bootcut black pant) suggests that you’re more aware of your appearance, and that you can dress as formally as required but you can still add a little flare at the same time. On the subject of flare, there’s also no rule that you can’t wear a pattern. For instance, a muted tartan check trouser in a dark green or navy and black. The idea is to wear complimentary but toned down colours. You want your outfit to speak, but you don’t want it to speak louder than you.

The best advice that you can take towards any interview is that you look prepared and polished. Sleek hair, soft make up, plain jewellery and wear obviously the most important thing, a smile.

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