If this is a role you are familiar with consider what you normally wear at work, then smarten up your look by one or two notches. For example: if you are a software engineer you might normally go to work in jeans and a smart shirt. However, at an interview, the jeans should be replaced with smarter trousers (which could mean cotton drill or chinos trousers) and with a coordinated tie added. If you are likely to meet clients in your new role, add a jacket. This is more casual than wearing a suit but will ‘dress up’ your look in an interview.
Give particular attention to your personal grooming: a good haircut or shave, neat and tidy make-up, clean teeth and fresh breath, and clean and manicured nails. Spending a little more time on personal grooming on the day of the interview will help you feel more confident and relaxed.
Dress for the culture of the organisation
It is helpful if you can identify the culture of the organisation you are applying to. This will help you pitch yourself in the interview to the mindset of the people within the organisation.
Just a few days before your interview visit the offices of where you will work at around lunch-time. Observe staff going in and out of the office. How are they dressed? How do they seem to behave with each other? If it is a large organisation, you could visit the reception and ask for a marketing brochure to take away with you. How are you treated by the reception staff? What first impression do you get from the look and feel of the offices?
If you have previously worked for a large bureaucratic organisation with formal procedures and processes and are now applying for a job in a entrepreneurial organisation, you might need to change your dress code for a more individual, fast moving, goal-setting culture. In this case it would be best to dress for the interview with a few touches of individualism. This can be achieved easily by concentrating on the style and quality of accessories, briefcase, handbag and shoes, ensuring their colour coordination.
Dress for the interviewer
Just in the same way that you would when meeting a new client, consider who is interviewing you and what they are likely to be wearing in the interview. Dress to make them feel comfortable with your appearance. With the internet it is easy to do a little background research on your interviewer and see how they present themselves. Bear in mind the age of the interviewer; some older people do not feel respected if you are not wearing a suit or smartly dressed.
However, if you are going for a position in a sports and leisure company it is more likely that the interviewer will be wearing casually smart clothes. If either of you are feeling uncomfortable or on edge it is difficult to build up a good rapport and create a good first impression.
Dress to feel at ease
You can usually make a great first impression without losing your individuality. Yes, to make a good first impression you do need to ‘fit in’ to some degree. But it all goes back to being appropriate for the situation and expressing your individuality appropriately within the context of the job you are applying for.
When a decision has to be made about choosing between two suitably qualified applicants, the deciding factor can often be the look and dress style of each of the short-listed applicants within the interview. An interviewer is likely to favour an applicant who is dressed in a way which reflects their own culture.
Follow these interview tips and you are well on your way to dressing appropriately for the interview and making a great first impression.