How to Style for Different Interviews

You’ve probably realised that it’s hard searching for a new role. When you do get invited for an interview, they’re often short notice and soon come around — leaving you with little time to decide what to wear. Follow our top tips to find out how to dress for each type of interview:

Casual startup job applicant

For a casual interview

You could usually call an interview casual if it’s for an unpaid position or for a charity. For these interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing.

For a woman

Dress for comfort at a casual interview. To ensure you still look presentable, you should avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of slacks or jeans.

You can expect this sort of interview to be fairly relaxed. Don’t worry too much about what’s on your feet. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels.

For a man

It’s fine to look casual, but don’t go too underdressed. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but similar to our advice for women, steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these will not give off the best impression. A safe option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket.

Semi-casual business professional

For a business casual interview

If you’re not going for a voluntary role, you should expect to dress business-casual. This may be because they have this dress code in the office or it may be for an assessment day where you are expected to be there all day and recruiters want you to feel comfortable. If you are unsure what to wear, it’s best to dress too formally rather than too casually to avoid giving off the wrong impression.

For a woman

Don’t be afraid to let your fashion sense show in a business casual outfit. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in. Or, opt for a smart shirt with a wide collar under a jumper. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket.

For a man

When dressing business casual, a smart men’s shirt with trousers is appropriate. Why not opt for a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased, but this is avoided through the non-iron garment.

Steer clear of polo shirts and jeans as these are far too casual for this type of interview.

Business professional look

For a professional interview

Always go formal for a professional interview. These interviews could be in front of directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship. You want to look your best here; your appearance certainly counts, and with the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles.

For a woman

Ever considered wearing a suit? When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel.

For a man

A suit is usually a good idea for a man when attending a professional interview too. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style, a slim leg may be best suited for you and your shape.

Things to avoid

As long as you look smart and presentable and feel comfortable, you’re off to a good start. However, there are a few things that you should avoid:

  • Too much perfume or aftershave.
  • Too much jewellery or makeup.