What to wear to your interview

Even the most style-savvy among us can struggle when it comes to picking the perfect interview outfit. Its nerve-racking choosing an outfit for an interview, never mind dressing for success in the office every day. So to help answer the age old question of what to wear, we’ve asked the most stylish recruiters their top interview fashion tips.

Over 50% of our recruiters admitted to being swayed by an interviewees dress sense when deciding to put forward candidates for interview, demonstrating first impressions count. And if there’s one place that this is more prevalent than others when talking careers, it’s the interview.

The perfect interview outfit

We asked: What’s your perfect interview outfit?

Sarah is a client relationship executive, who knows the value of a good tailored blazer.

“A simple skirt suit with a crisp, white, buttoned up blouse and statement necklace. Team it with a matching suit jacket and skirt – in colours that suit both your skin tone and the season you’re interviewing in. That, or a nice tailored dress with a structured blazer”.

Lewis is a recruitment manager and the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ is his style icon

“Firstly you need to get yourself a tailored suit (blue ideally), white shirt, strong tie (bright colour and something notable but nothing with the slightest hint of novelty) a nice set of shoes (well polished as always) and most importantly a very powerful beard”. (the last bit is optional of course)

Amy is a recruitment coordinator and is used to dressing for success.

“ I try to balance classy with something comfortable, always keeping it respectable. This doesn’t mean your outfit has to be boring, injecting a bit of personality into your outfit can set you aside from other people. This can be done with something as simple as a bright bag or earrings”.

Sean works in compliance and takes his fashion as seriously as he takes his audits.

“ Black suit, crisp white shirt, striking tie (but keep it corporate) teamed with remarkable cufflinks. I always try to look well-groomed and smell nice (in a non-overpowering way, of course). It’s about selling you and your abilities and not being remembered by your unfortunate choice of attire”.

Sophie works in finance and has a wardrobe that is the envy of everyone else in the office.

“You can have anything you want if you dress for it. My number one winning outfit would be a dark pencil skirt suit paired with a blouse in a lighter shade finished off with polished accessories; pearl earrings and black heels”.

Mel is a recruitment consultant who always turns up to work looking sharp.

“You can’t go wrong with a suit, shirt & tie. Go with navy or gray instead of black. Black is risky and washes you out. Stick to one colour when choosing a shirt. The key to looking good is always in the fit. When in doubt, go for the city look”.

Maureen works in marketing and believes in the power of personal branding

“It’s essential to make a lasting impression. I always wear one bright item, whether it’s a big statement necklace, bright patterned trousers or vivid top. I would go in all guns blazing with one statement piece of clothing, ensuring the interviewer remembered me (for the right reasons)”.

Things to remember when dressing for an interview:

We asked: What are the most important things to remember when planning an interview outfit?

The ladies say: 

Niki: “Research the client – obviously if I were interviewing for a role within the fashion industry I would massively step up my game”.

Sarah: “Do not wear anything too revealing. Make sure it is ironed with no stains. Hair tied back so people can see you and not too much makeup”.

Amy: “Always remember to do your nails. Small details count and if someone takes pride in their appearance it’s a fair jump to assume they take pride in their work”.

Debbie: “Focus on quality, not quantity –make sure everything is pressed and fits well. Wear minimal makeup & accessories and add colour to your outfit with say, a scarf or earrings– it’ll help you appear cheerful and positive to prospective employers”.

The gents say:

Ian: “Weather. Don’t wear a heavy suit in the summer or linen in winter”.

Mel: “Research the company. No point looking corporate when the company is hip and happening”.

Rick: “Iron your shirt. Nice fit is always a bonus”.

What to avoid

We asked: What things should you avoid wearing to an interview?

Survey says:

  • 58% said jeans

  • 23% said revealing clothing

  • 10% said trainers

  • 9% said red lipstick

Our style teams top no-no’s were:

Mel: “Brown shoes with a black suit”.

Maureen: “Red lipstick gives off a bad impression”.

Sean: “Anything that could be classed as casual; kickers/boat/loafer shoes, lack of tie, jeans, sunglasses”

Niki: “Too much skin on show and too much jewellery are big no-no’s”.

Amy: “Sheer shirts although tempting, reveal too much”

Top tips

We asked: What is your top tip for a winning interview outfit?

Sarah: “Confidence – if you don’t feel confident in what you are wearing, don’t wear it. Find something else that you can rock in”.

Sophie: “Dress as you and no one else”.

Dan: “Just make sure it fits well and you look presentable, something that you’re comfortable in always helps”.

Malcolm “Dress like you want to win it. If you think you look good, you feel good. This comes across”.

Debbie: “Always try your outfit on a few days before, and always have a back up outfit”.

Ian: “Interviews are difficult enough without the added pressure of feeling self-conscious. If you look good you feel good”.

Lewis: “Add some style”.

Glyn: “Dress the part – you only have once chance for a first impression. Research the company and the role you are interviewing for and wear an outfit that you feel comfortable in and makes you feel good about yourself”.

Closing thoughts

Based on everyone’s feedback, here are the points that everyone agreed on:

  • Sell your brand – don’t be afraid to let your own personal style shine through with key statement pieces.

  • Tailor for your audience – Research the company/interviewer you’re meeting and align your outfit with their company culture (a quick glance at their social pages should give you a clue)

  • Be comfortable – wear something you feel relaxed & confident in

  • Finally… test it. Show your friends, housemates, parents & loved ones, they’re your harshest critics and will give you honest advice.