The way we choose to dress is an important factor on a daily basis as it reflects how we feel about ourselves, and shows how we would like to be perceived by others. This is no different when dressing for an interview. Of course, your actions, manner and attitude is of equal importance, but your image can immediately earn you respect, before you’ve even said a word!
In the social realm of today, appearances, be it online or face to face, tend to be the barometer of most of our initial judgements, so it’s fair to say that the way we dress can have a considerable impact on individuals. Therefore, you must take this into consideration when attending an interview, and by getting it right will create the right aura around you. You don’t need to look like you’ve just walked off the catwalk at London Fashion Week (in fact, that would probably be quite unsuitable!), but ensuring that your appearance is appropriate for the role you have applied for will similarly ensure that the interviewer has a positive first impression of you. They will also make a connection between your image and your ability – you excel in one area (image) then you are likely excel in others. The key is what is expected and what is acceptable – casual dress for an interview with a professional services firm, for example, is obviously an error which will make the interviewer question your judgment and in turn judge you.
For the creative world, these rules can be a little more relaxed, but even then remember that the image you want to convey is one that underpins credibility and destroys arrogance or pretence. Even Designers, for whom the rules are relaxed even further, should dress one or two steps up from their normal attire for an interview. It is important to bear in mind that some employers, be it a Creative Director or Head of Marketing, make subconscious hiring decisions within the first few minutes of meeting a candidate, and spend the rest of the interview validating their initial impression. If your style does lean towards the adventurous, go for design consciousness and modern, but keep it understated. We’re not saying that you should quash your individuality, but with these stakes in mind, be sure your appearance is apt for the setting you are in.
We say this because, although we don’t like to admit it, when meeting new people our mind automatically forms opinions and judgements based solely on appearance, and an interview situation is no different. We are not saying that this is fair, of course, but it is estimated that eight or nine out of ten employers will reject an unsuitably dressed applicant without a second thought! This strongly indicates that how you dress really does play a major part in being selected for a role.
When attending your first interview, it is really important to get it right. Bear in mind that is extremely difficult for people to gauge the true characteristics of someone in the space of one hour, so we go on what is most visible to our eyes – clothes, personal appearance and speech. Not only will it positively influence potential employers, but it will also make you feel more confident in what is a very nerve-wracking situation and will allow you to shine throughout your interview. Dressing appropriately and correctly will demonstrate to your prospective employer that you are credible and engaged and most important, respectful; it will also signal to the interviewer that you have taken the time to expend the effort to make the right first impression. Of course, although you should dress appropriately, you should show your own personal flair – the person beneath the clothes should shine through too!
Remember that dressing correctly will give you an edge over the competition, and leave a favourable impression on potential employers. In fact, your overall appearance and presentation may even leave a more distinct impression than the words you say, as memory is rooted most strongly in pictures and impressions.