Now girls, we all know that whatever the occasion – drinks with friends, a date, or in this case a job interview – the question constantly on our minds is: “What do I wear!?” I don’t know about you, but I can spend a good couple of hours a week discussing it with my friends or trying to put together an outfit in my head whilst running in Hyde Park. I have also been known to stop writing an essay due in the next day to try on everything in my wardrobe. Twice. Procrastination that beats re-organising your kitchen cupboard, right? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one to end up with a room that looks like a bombsite thanks to the ultimate dilemma of what to wear to impress your potential future employers.
I can’t promise you’ll have the fashion know-how to dress like Carrie Bradshaw every day, but I can assure you that if you have been lucky enough to get an interview this article will make the predicament of what to wear on the big day a whole lot clearer. Now you’ll be able to get back to those essays and have no other excuse to be behind on your reading (other than the kitchen cupboards!).
So what exactly does one wear to grab the attention of those scary interviewers and make the right impression to get that dream job (along with showing a little intelligence and experience)?
First things first, it really does depend on the organisation that you’re applying to. If it’s in the fashion industry, with its nature being slightly more relaxed and dare I say ‘fun’, you can be a little more adventurous with your choice of attire than say with the finance industry which is more likely to expect the traditional approach. This ‘traditional’ approach doesn’t mean that you can’t put a little personality into your outfit though. In fact, it’s the best thing to do, as it means you’ll feel a lot more at ease whilst being grilled. It also gives the employer an insight into the person you are, and believe it or not, helps them to see whether you would fit in with the company, which is the most important thing. You want to make sure that you’re going to slot straight into their working practices and culture. However, don’t go wearing a steak àla Lady Gaga!
If you are going to go for the classic black trousers and white shirt, it doesn’t have to be boring. You can give it a twist or a more contemporary edge by choosing a different style of trouser rather than the standard straight or boot cut that your mother is so fond of. How about tapping right into the trend and going for a pair of skinny trousers with a bit of a tapered feature like these from Next:
If you don’t feel like they’re you, you could snap up a sleek, high-waisted pair like these ones from Warehouse:
The wide-leg suits every girl, whatever your height or shape, giving you an elegant silhouette, hiding a multitude of sins and as it is a timeless style you can still be wearing them this time next year when you’ve bagged the job. You can also use your student discount at Warehouse – bonus!
So that’s one wardrobe staple sorted, now for the white shirt. We all love Primark for a bargain so if you’re a bit strapped for cash, one from there will do the trick. But if you are feeling a little flash, it’s worth investing in a good quality one that will see you through from season to season, like this one from Mango:
Just make sure that you get one that fits you properly so you’re not showing off too much cleavage! Despite some myths that it gets you further, this is highly unlikely, especially with more women on interviewing panels nowadays, and even if it does you don’t want to be working for that kind of company anyway.
As I said earlier, you can inject a bit of personality into your outfit and one way of doing so is by wearing a bit of colour. I’m loving the autumnal red tones out there at the moment, so why not team a pair of these from Zara with your white shirt for a crisp look.
Of course you could spice up your black trousers with a different coloured shirt, or patterned blouse like this one from New Look:
To achieve the smart look, you don’t have to wear trousers and a blouse. There are plenty of formal dresses on the high street for you to pick from, such as this one from H&M:
Again, you want to be comfortable and not show off too much leg when wearing a dress or skirt, so make sure that it fits correctly. There’s nothing worse than having to keep pulling your skirt down all day or constantly making sure you’re sitting in the right position when you’re under pressure. Unless you feel completely comfortable or we’re experiencing a freakishly hot winter, it’s probably best to accompany your dress or skirt with black tights rather than bare legs and it also helps give off the right impression.
So we’ve dealt with the main items, but every girl knows that no outfit is complete without shoes and accessories! Heels are a must, unless of course you’re likely to end up stumbling on top of who could be your future employer – not the smoothest of moves! Black court shoes are always a fail-safe option. Something like these from Dorothy Perkins would be perfect:
And of course, you can use your student discount again! Just make sure that your shoes are polished and clean. Your assessors will be less than impressed if you turn up wearing your old faithfuls that you danced all night in last week at Halo and still have the remnants of Apple Sourz on.
When it comes to accessories, you don’t want to be wearing so many bangles that it sounds like Christmas has come early. But used correctly, accessories can jazz up an outfit and really give it that individuality. A scarf like this one can add a chic, vintage feel:
Be wary of looking like an air stewardess though! Jewellery is probably best kept to a minimum, unless you think your outfit needs a statement necklace just to make it a little more interesting.
We all know that wearing glasses gives the impression of being intelligent, and buying a cheapo pair from Primark to wear at an interview isn’t unheard of. If you really want to, this is an option. However, whilst your appearance can have an effect on how the assessor sees you, it is unlikely that they have a box for ‘wears glasses’ to check. Your natural intelligence will shine through and be enough to win them over.
Now with clothes, shoes and accessories covered, the only thing left to say is to make sure that you continue with the professional look and apply the right amount of make-up and don’t turn up looking like Lily Savage. You don’t want your foundation transferring onto that nice new white shirt. Subtle, natural tones are all that are needed. Leave the bright red lipstick for nights out on the town! Hair needs to be tidy and sleek, finishing off the look with a spritz of fresh-scented perfume. Not too overpowering – you don’t want to be choking the assessors – a personal favourite of mine is DKNY Pure.
So in short, you only have those first few seconds to make a lasting impression on the people who could be giving you your dream job. By taking a bit of this advice to look the part, being comfortable throughout, showing them a little of your personality and dazzling them with your knowledge, you’ve got a good chance of getting it. Good luck!