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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interviews - what not to wear

Some of you will probably be familiar with the TV show – “What not to wear”. Essentially it is about taking people (admittedly usually women) and showing them why they shouldn’t wear pretty much everything in their wardrobes. More importantly it is about giving them tips on what style, cut colour etc. they should wear and what is appropriate to various situations. Well one of the most important places to get this decision right is at a job interview. 

What you wear at an interview may not be the only deciding factor or technically might not be a factor at all when the interviewers make a decision on who to hire but it is generally accepted that a first impression will be formed within the first 20 seconds of an interview. And first impressions do count! So what should you not wear? Well jeans (and denim skirts) are a definite no! I really don’t care what the job is, jeans are never appropriate attire. They say comfort and casual. They do not say interested, respectful or professional. T-shirts and any type of sports clothes are pretty much out too. The only exception to this might be for women who want to wear a smart t-shirt type top under a good suit. Hawaiian shirts are not a runner either. I am all for adding a bit of colour but there is no need to blind your interviewers! And, what about miniskirts and hot pants? Well if you need me to answer that question are you really up to the job?

For most formal interviews men should wear a proper shirt, with full sleeve, together with a suit and tie. The tie is an opportunity to add a bit of personality but don’t get too carried away. The only exception would be when you are interviewing with an organisation that adopts a much more relaxed approach. Then smart casual might be more suitable. In all cases if in doubt opt for formal attire. For women, interview attire is a little more flexible. Appropriate interview wear can range from trousers suit, skirt suit, dress with jacket, to a more mix and match approach. Again though, colours should be understated. In additions cuts should be tailored and formal and shoes should be neither completely flat or “killer heels”. 

Finding the right balance is often difficult but do remember that you are going for an interview. It is important that you create an impression of professionalism and instil confidence. Try to match your clothes to the company with whom you are interviewing. It may all seem very obvious but you’d be surprised at just how many people don’t dress appropriately for an interview. Don’t forget. Your job is to sell yourself, including your skills, experiences, attributes and personality. So don’t let yourself down. Make sure you know what not to wear for interview! And be one step closer to getting that job. This is just one of the issues I address in my new revised EBook “Tackling the Myths – Interview Guide for Winners” which is available in Pdf from our website or via Amazon Kindle.  For more information http://www.consultingexcellence.ie/main/page_online_shop_ebooks.html

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