It’s been suggested that within just seven seconds of meeting someone new, you’ve both made a solid first impression of each other.
That’s approximately the same amount of time a recruiter may spend looking at your CV, and just think – how many hours did you spend perfecting that?
Your choice of interview attire really will impact your chances of securing the role, so it’s crucial that you get it right. Depending on their work environment, the company’s employees may dress very differently to how your colleagues do in your current role – even if it’s a position in the same sector, at the same level.
But when you’ve never set foot in the office, how can you decide what to wear to a job interview?
Do your research
Chances are, you have no idea what your potential new colleagues wear on a day-to-day basis in the office – and if you have met any of them before, it was most likely at an event where people tend to dress up more than usual.
Try searching for photos of the team on the company’s social media accounts and their website. If all else fails, then don’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager ahead of the interview.
For senior positions – or even if you’re simply unsure of the dress code – then opt for smart business attire. In the legal, insurance and financial services sectors this tends to be expected for roles at all levels.
Men are expected to wear a well-fitting, dark suit with a white collared shirt and a conservative tie. Stay away from bright colours and loud patterns – opting for polished, plain black shoes and socks.
Typically, women should wear a tailored suit or knee-length skirt with a white collared blouse and closed-toe shoes. Keep your hairstyle, make-up and jewellery minimal, as these can be distracting and potentially appear unprofessional to some employers.
What even is smart casual, anyway?
These days it’s not uncommon for the hiring manager to ask you to wear ‘smart casual’ or ‘business casual’ to your interview. Essentially, this is dressing professionally but wearing something slightly more comfortable than a formal suit, though not as casual as jeans.
For men, this tends to be formal trousers with either a smart jumper, polo shirt or collared shirt without a tie. Shoes can be slightly more informal than you’d wear with a suit, but avoid trainers or anything with obvious logos.
Women should stick to neutral colours and patterns – and a simple, conservative blouse paired with a cardigan or blazer is ideal. Again, trousers or a knee-length skirt are both appropriate, as well as low-heeled, closed-toe shoes.
No matter what you choose to wear for your job interview, ensure it is crisply-ironed and well-fitting. At the end of the day, you need to feel comfortable and confident in your outfit. Try everything on a few days before your interview, and lay out everything you’ll need the night before. You’ll likely experience some pre-interview jitters, but if you’re having second thoughts about your outfit, remember that generally, it’s better to be the person wearing the smartest clothing in the room, rather than the one most underdressed.
About the author
Lucy Evans is an Executive Recruitment Consultant specialising within the Wealth Management industry. She works for Heat Recruitment, a specialist recruitment agency based in Bristol operating across the UK that specialise in Engineering, Information Technology, Insurance, Financial Services and the Legal sector. They place candidates in both permanent and contract roles.