What not to wear to an interview

Success! You’ve scored that all important interview, now’s the time all those first impressions really count. What you wear to that first meeting with a potential employer shows them what you’re all about, turn up in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops? You’re not looking likely to secure that internship. Turn up in a suit with polished shoes and you’re well on your way. Follow these tips to make sure that you’re dressed appropriately and professionally to help you bag that job.

First things first, there are a couple of absolute no-goes when it comes to interview fashion.

  • Trainers or any other kind of informal shoes. You need to get yourself a pair of (probably) black, leather or leather look smart shoes. No need to spend a fortune but these will become staples in your interview and workwear wardrobe so pick a comfortable pair. It’s also worth saying that you shouldn’t be wearing 6 inch heals to the office, especially if you can’t walk properly in them.
  • Visible underwear. Honestly, no one needs to see the waistband of your boxers above your trousers or your black bra through a white shirt.
  • Shorts. Even if it is 30 degrees, you really need to be wearing trousers or a suitable skirt. Just pray the office has air-con and hope for the best.
  • Denim. Bottom line is they’re just not suitable. Suit material trousers, skirts and jackets only. 
  • Skirts that are too short. Skirts and dresses should really skim the tops of your knees if not just below the knee. 
  • Shirts that are too low-cut or too short. Have your top button done up when you’re wearing a collared shirt and make sure you’re not wearing a blouse that is too low-cut. Also ensure your stomach isn’t on show, not a good look.

In the case of interviews, it pays to plan ahead. You should have that outfit hanging in your wardrobe ready for any unexpected or last-minute interviews. If you have that suit and those shoes already polished, you know it all fits and looks good then you won’t have a quick panic dash into town to find a shirt that fits. This is also where it helps if you have a classic outfit that is appropriate to your career field so you don’t need to change it up every season when leopard print goes out of style (side note, leopard print, in fashion or not, is probably never interview appropriate).

Your interview outfit does not need to break the bank, check out sales and always ask about student discounts. Shopping online or in outlet stores is also a way to help bring down the cost of an otherwise expensive suit. You might even get lucky and find the perfect skirt in a charity shop if you look hard enough. 

Your clothes aren’t the only things that leave a lasting impression on the interviewer. Your perfume or aftershave, even if you think it smells great, can often be overpowering. Don’t go heavy on sprays, to be honest you don’t even really want the interviewer to be smell you at all, good or bad. Stick to something light if you really must spray something but the ideal is no strong scents at all. 

Depending on where you’re applying, you might want to cover any visible tattoos or piercings. As a rule, one understated stud in each ear lobe is acceptable, but more conservative companies may have policies on anything more than this. Wear longer sleeves if you have tattoos on your forearms if you think it could be an issue with the employer, but don’t bother lying about whether you have tattoos or not. Some jobs, for example, cabin crew, have rules about visible tattoos. If you know you wouldn’t be able to hide it in the uniform you’d be expected to wear then you need to let the employer know. 

Now that you know how to dress to impress, get shopping and check out your wardrobe for what you already have. Don’t make any silly mistakes with your outfit and turn up in jeans and a top, keep it smart and professional and you’re sure to get that job you’ve been lusting after!

Post by Olivia Greaves

Olivia is a Politics student at the University of Southampton. Follow her on twitter @oiiviagreaves (https://twitter.com/oIiviagreaves)