With the job market looking fairly saturated at the moment it can be so frustrating and disillusioning to go for interview after interview without success.  You may have researched the company that you wish to work for in depth and tried to ensure that you are prepared to answer any question that could possibly arise.  You may be well qualified and experienced but is this enough?  With many candidates applying for one job you will need to make sure that you look the part as well.

It may surprise you to know that a first impression takes less than 30 seconds to make and first impressions are based mainly (93%) on how you look and sound and only 7% about the words you actually say.  In the first 30 seconds, the interviewer will be making judgements about whether you look competent, efficient, confident, conscientious and honest or whether you look a bit hapless, disorganised. The employer will be making judgements about whether you look like the sort of person they want to work for them or not!

If you know that you have paid attention to what you are going to wear and you feel confident about how you look, your body language and tone of voice will also be much more confident.  So, appearance is vitally important for success at interviews.  Everything about your appearance sends out a message to the interviewer.  For example, a crumpled, un-ironed shirt could give them the impression that you are lazy and disorganised.  Bad grooming will give them the idea that you pay little attention to detail!

Ideally, a visit to a style consultant would be a good investment before an interview.  They would be able to advise you on the best colours and styles for your personal colouring and shape and how to put together an appropriate interview look.  However, if time does not allow for this here are some things to think about in order to make a good first impression.


Think about how they brand themselves. Try to dress as if you are already part of the team.  If they are very formal, you will need to be too.  If they are creative and innovative, a bog-standard black suit and white shirt won’t work – you’ll need to be more imaginative with your colours and accessories.


The colours you wear to an interview should be fairly neutral, with an accent colour for interest, so that the interviewer remembers you.  Loud, garish colours from top to toe detract from what you are saying! A style consultant will be able to advise you at a colour analysis on the best colours for your colouring.


It is essential that your suit or clothes fit properly for interviews.  If your sleeves are too long, or your jacket doesn’t sit flat on your chest you will not feel confident and will tend to fidget.  A style consultant can check to ensure that your jackets, trousers and skirts are all of a good length and fit for you and can advise you of the best cuts for your body shape.


Although for most types of interview you won’t want your look to be high fashion you need to make sure that your look is up to date.  Digging out a tie that you wore to your niece’s christening ten years ago will not do!  When your look becomes old-fashioned, people assume that your ideas and thinking are out of date too.


Make sure that your accessories are good quality and complement your outfit.  For example, a thick, clumpy pair of Dr Marten shoes won’t be appropriate with a formal suit.  You will need a finer pair of thin-soled shoes such as an Oxford or Brogue style.  Men should make sure that if there are belt loops in their trousers that they are wearing a belt.  Women should not over-do the jewellery – one piece will usually be enough.  Think about the bag, briefcase or document wallet you will use.  These will also need to complement your outfit.  Men must be careful not to cram their wallets, mobile phones, keys etc. into their pockets as this can look unsightly and not give the impression of an organised, efficient person.


Good grooming shows good attention to detail and good time management.  Women who turn up to work with a professional amount of make-up often get paid more and climb the ladder faster in client-facing jobs. Men must make sure that they have shaved and all neck hair, nose hair etc. has been taken care of!  Your hand is the first thing you will give the interviewer to shake so make sure that nails are clean and neatly filed, not dirty and chewed!


Women need to make sure they look professional.  Short skirts and low cleavage will not do you any favours in the long run at work.  Men – under no circumstances are comedy ties or socks appropriate for interviews unless the job is a children’s entertainer!

Got an interview? Learn more on how to dress for success

For more help with dressing for an interview, check out my style consultation services for men and women. 

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