After over 10 years in recruitment, I am still frequently surprised by the ‘interesting’ attire some people wear when attending an interview with myself or a company I recruit for. Some of the shockers I’ve seen in my time include:
The guy who arrived from overseas to meet me prior to his interview for a senior level role in a major Bank, dressed in jeans and a cowboy shirt…. I promptly sent him shopping in Grafton Street to purchase a suit, shirt and tie. He got the job (Would he have got it in his Rodeo outfit?).
The senior level woman who was the perfect match on paper for a job I was recruiting for. However, in person she wore bright blue eye shadow and fuchsia pink lipstick (which matched her pink suit!). The company in question was both corporate and conservative so I had to subtly suggest to her that her style may not have fit in that particular company and to tame it down for the interview.
I once had an individual rejected for a job primarily because of how they were dressed. Following a first interview (with a 5* hotel, where presentation is key), the feedback was great but it was suggested she needed a smarter appearance to fit in with the company brand/image. I advised the person of this and gave her some pointers on improving her presentation. Unfortunately, this was largely ignored and at the second interview she wore an un-ironed shirt and jacket combo.
Creating that great first impression really does matter and unfortunately some bad outfit/grooming choices can leave a lasting memory (for all the wrong reasons) regardless of how you perform in the actual interview. So, to ensure you get remembered for all the right reasons, here’s my advice for personal presentation and grooming:
- Iron your clothes! Wrinkled clothes (and fallen trouser/skirts hems etc.) give the impression of a lack of care and attention to detail.
- Dress appropriate to the dress code of the company. If it’s a corporate environment then a suit is always best. If the company dress code is casual (e.g. jeans) then take it up a notch to business casual (e.g. shirt/blouse and trousers/skirt).
- You really should avoid wearing overpowering perfume/aftershave. What may be your favourite scent might smell awful to the interviewer. My advice, a shower and good deodorant should be enough!
- Check your teeth to make sure there isn’t any lipstick or food in them.
- Depending on the company environment, they may not appreciate facial piercing, so veer on the side of caution and remove them for interviews.
- Make sure you have lots of sleep the night before so you don’t arrive in the interview with bloodshot or bleary eyes.
- All tattoos should be covered.
- Go for neutral hair colours and nothing too dramatic.
- Make sure you are not emanating any offensive smells. Avoid eating garlic (or other strong smelling foods) on the day/day before and if you smoke, don’t do so before the interview. Your last cigarette should be before you shower and put on your (freshly laundered) clothes for interview. You may think that a mint/chewing gum will negate any odours but unfortunately strong smells stay on your hair, skin and clothes.
- Dress appropriate to a business/interview setting, nothing too ‘trendy’. Remember it’s an interview not a Saturday night out with the girls!
- If you have your ears pierced make sure you wear small studs and not dangling/large earrings.
- Don’t wear anything too revealing, no short skirts and low cut tops.
- Fringes should be styled appropriately i.e. not hanging into your eyes.
- If you wear nail varnish, make sure it is a neutral colour and your nails are not chipped.
- Ensure your hair is clean, well groomed and in a neutral style. My own personal opinion for long hair is that it should be neatly tied back for interviews. Why? Because most women fiddle with their hair when it’s left down which can be distracting in an interview situation.
- Don’t overdo it on the makeup. Keep it neutral and avoid heavy eye shadow/liner and bright lipstick.
- Wear attire suitable to a business setting, keeping suit, shirt and tie colours neutral. What you might wear to a wedding may not be the best for an interview.
- Have you hair clean, neat and well groomed.
- The old traditional dress rules still apply (what your Dad or Grandad would say!) e.g. a matching belt and shoes.
- You should be cleanly shaved or if you do have a moustache/beard make sure it’s neatly trimmed.
Remember, first impressions really do count. Hopefully the above tips will help you present your best self at an interview. For more tips on what to say and do at interview, visit the Abrivia Career Advice section.