Candidates often ask us what they should wear at interview, and with good reason – first impressions count. While what you can do and your abilities should be the most important, your
interviewer will also be checking out your ability to look the part for the firm you’re applying to. Plus, dressing appropriately and making a good impression never hurts. Looking the
part, you will feel more confident and that confidence will come across in the interview.
Picking your outfit
If your interview outfit is years old, it’s time to invest in a new one. For the kind of role you are seeking, looking the part is important and wearing an outdated or well-used suit conveys the wrong image. Go out and find a suit that fits you perfectly and that makes you feel the part. This needn’t break the bank – one of our recent candidates found the perfect outfit in her mum’s wardrobe. Smart separates are perfectly fine.
If you ordinarily wear a hijab or other religious attire, you should wear it if you intend to wear it in your day to day work – the firm should be comfortable hiring the “whole you”, after all. Again, go for neutral/muted colours that match your outfit.
(As an aside: one of our advisers spent an hour lurking outside the firm she was due to interview at the following week to get a sense of how formally she should dress for that City firm. Based on what she saw, she went for tailored and modest rather than full-on pinstripe, and got the job – so apparently it’s worth a try!)
If you're on a vacation scheme, you don't need a whole new wardrobe - a few bright blouses / shirts can be paired with your suit. You'll want to be concentrating on your work, not choosing a new outfit in the morning rush.
Preparing your look
It goes without saying that anything you wear to an interview should be clear of hair, deodorant marks and other stains. Also, ensure that none of the hems are fraying, zips and buttons aren’t straining and all the lines look good sitting down and standing up, even on a brand new outfit. (Blazer buttons should be buttoned when standing, unbuttoned when seated.)
Accessories are also important to finishing your appearance. Taking a briefcase or a handbag is fine (and you’ll probably need it for keys, Oyster cards and the like) but ensure that it is well organised inside so that if you open it, everything is in its place. If you normally wear heels, then stick with them but ensure they aren’t too high and thin and that you can comfortably and easily walk in them. Nothing spoils an interview like tripping over because your heels are too high, and you may be doing some walking – from one interview room to another, on office tours etc. Don’t try out brand new shoes on interview day – break them in well before.
Both makeup and jewellery are important for an interview but both should be understated and modest. Look at jewellery trends but remember where you are going and the style of your outfit to apply those trends. Big, statement necklaces may be in fashion but a colour-coordinating small pendant will be far more suitable for the occasion. We’re often asked about religious symbols – if you ordinarily wear a religious symbol such as a cross or a Star of David, by all means wear it as long as it’s modest (most are).
When the big day comes around, a small spray of a delicate perfume, a touch of makeup and a general once over to make sure all is right will see you ready to go and full of confidence.
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