As recruitment experts, we get a lot of questions about appropriate attire for an interview. There are always complicating factors with this question but in our view, the answer is always the same – dress to impress. You can never be overdressed for an interview (unless of course, you opt to dust off your tuxedo or ballgown – not advisable). Below are some specific questions we often field:
“It’s Friday – won’t everyone be dressed down?”
Yes, convention means that many offices adopt a business casual (or sometimes casual casual) Friday attire for employees. It feels just a little bit sweeter going into the office wearing jeans. But depending on your office, casual Fridays are widely varying. In an insurance company, it might mean suit no tie. At our office, it usually means jeans and a blouse with a blazer for meetings. At a technology company, it probably means hoodies and cargo pants. The important thing to remember is that even if employees are dressed down, they are not interviewing – you are!
“If I wear a suit to my office, everyone will know I’m going to an interview!”
We understand the worry – you don’t want to tip off your employer or co-workers that something is up by wearing clothes you wouldn’t usually wear to the office, especially if your interview happens to be on a Friday. How to resolve this? There are lots of ways. Take the afternoon of your interview off, if you can, and go home to change. Or keep your change of clothes in your bag or car and do a quick change in a Starbucks restroom or the gym. We’ve even offered our offices to ALT candidates for a quick changeroom and a place to store your bags – no problem! A recent candidate purchased a tie en route to his interview. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“I want my unique style to shine through – I don’t want to work somewhere where I can’t be myself.”
We meet hundreds of candidates every year, ranging from millennial to baby boomer and beyond, and we have seen all kinds of style – short pants, tight pants, bright colours, bright socks, no socks, suit shorts, big hair, polished head – you name it, we’ve seen it. We are not advocating that you wear a black suit and white shirt and red tie – far from it. Expressing personality through style is awesome – but it must be office appropriate. No revealing cleavage (men or women), no tight T-shirts (men or women), and nothing too short (men or women). Looking as though you are heading straight to the club, or the ski hill, isn’t appropriate workwear, let alone interview attire.
“I am never comfortable in a suit – I won’t feel confident.”
Business appropriate attire means different things to different people. Some will opt for pants with a blazer and flats if that’s what they are most comfortable (and powerful) wearing. Others, a dress with a jacket and statement necklace. Others still will prefer a matching suit and pant, perhaps with a vibrant tie, pocket square, and funky socks. You be you – the best form of you – so you can shine through with confidence.
One last tip as you’re walking into the meeting. No matter what you’re wearing, it truly is what is on the inside that counts. First impressions don’t tell your story – you do. So be positive, confident and prepared and you will be amazing.