Being an upcoming graduate can be very stressful, spending hours to meet a 10,000 word target for a dissertation, trying to find a job to walk into after graduation mixed in with juggling late nights at the library for revision can certainly get a bit too much at times. Not to mention the part-time job and trying to have some sort of social life and when an invite to an interview eventually comes round, they’re usually on short notice – leaving you stuck on deciding what to wear!
For charity work or casual unpaid internships casual dress is suitable. For these interviews, it’s unlikely they’ll expect you to be dressed very formally and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing.
Skirts and jeans are appropriate in a casual interview – wear clothes you are comfortable in. However, avoid ripped jeans and mini-skirts with bare legs. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of slacks or jeans.
Since it’s likely to be a relaxed vibe, you shouldn’t worry too much about footwear. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels.
It’s harder for men to dress casual without looking too underdressed. Jeans are definitely appropriate, similar to the women advice we gave, stay away from the ripped jeans. Two things that definitely won’t leave a great impression would be a pair of joggers and/or a tracksuit top. A safe option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket.
A business-casual attire may be specified as the dress code on some interview invitations. This could be because it’s the dress code they have in the workplace or it may be an assessment day where you are expected to be there all day and they want you to feel comfortable while there.
If you are unsure what to wear, it’s best to dress too formally rather than too casually to avoid giving off the wrong impression.
With a business-casual dress code, you have more freedom with what you wear than in a strictly professional interview. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in.
Or, wear a smart shirt with a wide collar underneath a long-sleeved sweater. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket.
For men, to be appropriate for a business-casual dress code, you should wear a smart shirt. Why not invest in a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased but this is avoided through the non-iron garment.
You should avoid a polo shirt, as this is too casual and still steer clear of wearing jeans.
A professional look’s definitely preferred if you’re attending a formal interview as these could be putting you in front of the directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship. You want to look your best here; your appearance certainly counts, and with the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles.
Women should opt for a suit in a professional situation. When it comes to dressing the lower half you can go with whatever you feel comfortable in. If you decide on a skirt, wear one with a hemline that goes just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming to revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel.
For a formal interview men should wear a suit too. Dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. A good footwear choice would be brogues – smart and stylish without being boring. A tailored suit that mirrors your style with a slim leg may be best suited for your shape.
What to avoid
As we can see, the main thing to do is to make sure you feel comfortable in your outfit — it will show in the interview! However, there are a few things that you should avoid:
- Too much perfume or aftershave.
- Too much jewelry or makeup.
Here’s an interesting infographic by Tiv Perfume in this regard:
Article kindly supplied by CT Shirts, retailer of mens suits.