What to wear to a job interview

A friend of mine has landed a great job at one of S.A.’s biggest investment banks. She sent me a message the other day, telling me that she might need help with her wardrobe as she needs to be ‘properly corporate now’ 😉 So we had a chat about what she has in her existing wardrobe, what things she needs to go and buy and where she can find them. It was very deep and meaningful and first world. And it took all of 5 minutes, in-between interruptions from our kids demanding biscuits. 

It may seem shallow to spend so much time considering how you look, but let me tell you, it’s not. I could write pages and pages on this subject but I won’t. Simply put – it’s a known fact that a person makes a judgement call on another person within 90 seconds of meeting them. How you look plays a massive role in this judgement call, so then don’t you agree that, particularly in the work place, it’s imperative that you take time to consider how you look?

So let’s get into the topic of what to wear for a job interview. As I said in my previous post, I hate sounding like yet another what to/how to, but if you’re needing help and you trust my opinion, then read on..And if you aren’t going for an interview you may still find my tips beneficial for how to dress at the office. 

I can’t prescribe the exact items you need to wear because there are particular factors to consider that will determine these. Firstly, consider the environment you’re going to i.e. is it a bank, a law firm, an ad agency, a consulting company, you get the idea? You always need to take this into account when you plan your outfit. The reason I mention this is pretty obvious – to wear a suit to an interview at an ad agency would just get you some strange looks, whereas if you’re looking to move into a law firm then a suit is absolutely a good option. 

Then consider the type of role that you are interviewing for, so let’s say you’re going to an agency – are you interviewing for the creative director role or the account manager role? Your dress code can reflect this too. Maybe you’re going for a creative director role, you want your look to demonstrate your creative flair, so perhaps add an accessory to your outfit that does this for you.  

Wherever or whatever you’re interviewing for, you always want to be taken seriously. You want to look like you respect the job and its environment. The way you look plays a massive role in communicating this. 

Here’s my advice:

  • The more structured your outfit is, the more serious you look – think a soft floaty dress that twirls when you spin vs. a shift dress in a structured fabric, the shift is definitely the better option! 
  • Take a look at the state of each item you’re wearing. Scuffed shoes and a stained blouse are tatty. Faded black pants again show a lack of respect – for yourself as well as the intended job. 
  • Focus on the fit of your outfit, your pants could be a phenomenally expensive brand, but if they are too short or gape at the waist your whole look is taken down a notch. Find yourself a tailor and get your items to fit you perfectly. 
  • Less is always more, except when it comes to hemlines!

Once you get that dream job, you might want to think about how to make getting dressed each day easy and effortless. You don’t need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe either. I suggest focusing on getting some really good basics to begin with, leave the ‘wow’ prints to later. A black shift dress is a lot more versatile and can be worn once or even twice a week without anyone noticing that you’re in the same dress – if paired with different accessories, a scarf, different shoes or a jacket. Nobody will look at you and think “oh there’s Susan in her floral print dress again!”

For more tips on building your own minimalist wardrobe, take a look at this post.

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