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Dress for an interview! What to wear and what to avoid when going for a job interview?

  • June 8, 2022
  • Gleh Huston Appleton

In general, a job interview calls for you to dress professionally, or in something that is business appropriate, but what exactly is this? Well, for men, this can be anything, from a suit or blazer, to a sweater and button-down, depending on what is considered appropriate for that particular company, and for women, it could be a blouse and dress pants or a skirt suit, basically anything that presents a formal, and work-ready image to the interviewer and company as a whole.  

However, if you are not sure what to wear, it is completely fine to enquire about the dress code of said company, prior to the date of the interview. Knowing the dress code, before your interview is helpful because it allows you to match your outfit to their dress code. This can help you make a good first impression and show the employer that you are a good fit for the company. 

Photo Credit: Creator Michael Jung

But while making sure that your attire is appropriate, one should not forget that the number one factor of dressing well, is comfort and practicality, and so I definitely would not recommend wearing something that is very uncomfortable, or something that is so tight that you can barely move, just to make a good impression on the interviewer, because this will probably do the opposite, and one way to avoid this, is to try on the attire prior to the interview, to make sure that it is a comfortable fit, and this is what I would call the first rule of dressing professionally. 

The attire is not the only part of the outfit, the footwear is just as important, and this brings us to the next rule of dressing professionally, which is; wear appropriate and comfortable shoes. And when it comes to shoes, there are a few ground rules you need to know, the dos and don’ts;

i) never wear shoes that do not compliment the texture, design or color of the attire. 

ii) Always wear shoes that are appropriate for your outfit, i.e. do not wear sneakers with a suit, or gardening boots with dress pants. 

iii) Always try on the shoes to make sure that they fit comfortably before the interview; shoes that are too tight, are what you need to avoid, though you may be able to squeeze into them at home it will be nearly impossible to spend long hours in them, due to the immense cramming and congestion of feet, depending on how long the interview lasts, but on the other hand,  wearing shoes that are too big will throw off the cosmetically appealing appearance of the design and texture of the clothing, because when it comes to dressing smartly, symmetry is paramount, and wearing shoes that are asymmetrical to the outfit, is the last thing you want. 

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The next tip for dressing professionally may be one of the most important of all, and that is; “Invest in a power outfit.” Now you may be thinking what is a power outfit? Well, it is exactly what it sounds like. A power outfit is an attire that turns heads and captivates the attention of everyone when you walk into a room, it gives a very powerful, and corporate image, a power outfit leaves people thinking, is that guy applying for “tech intern” or “CEO”, this is where we get the phrase “dress to impress.” 

So maybe there was a blazer you saw and thought that it wouldn’t be worth buying, well, better think again, because how you look tells people who you are, and of course, your attire should match the job post, you obviously shouldn’t wear a t-shirt and shorts when you are going to an interview for the post of manager. 

The final rule of dressing for professionalism is to groom yourself. Grooming oneself means making sure that every aspect of your appearance is well taken care of and visually appealing, which means, don’t show up with wrinkled clothes or unkempt hair, and it also includes knowing what to never wear to an interview. These are considered universally inappropriate says Devoreaux Walton, an etiquette expert; flip flops, wedge sandals, ripped jeans or shorts, tank tops, halter tops, sandals, strapless tops and dresses, and athletic attire like yoga pants and sneakers. 

We have spoken about many dressing attires, however, if you are not sure what to wear, the safest and most appropriate outfit for an interview, that is universally acceptable, is a white or light coloured dress shirt with a conservative tie, ‘avoid bow ties or busy patterns’, and wear dark shoes that are polished and free of scratches or stains, along with dark trousers or jeans. Avoid overly vibrant or flashy colors, as this can portray an image of overconfidence and arrogance. 

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