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Looking the part

Dress sense in an interview.

Make the effort is the simple answer. We don’t like to admit it but, our mind automatically forms opinions based solely on appearance, before a word is spoken and, it’s no different when it comes to interviews. How you’re dressed impacts the whole tone of an interview and enshrines the first visual of you as a potential employee.

This isn’t being an old reactionary either. We deal with a lot of very cool and modern firms, but people on the coal face of hiring just won’t tolerate anyone who has not made the effort. Granted, there has been a complete change of scene when it comes to office attire and this lightening up has definitely spilt over into interviews. However, you’ve still got to get it right and it’s worth bearing in mind that anyone can dress smart. It really doesn’t take a lot of effort.

How you’re dressed can sometimes impact the whole course and tone of an interview and accentuates the first visual of a candidate. Some potential employers make a subconscious hiring decision within seconds of meeting a candidate and can spend the rest of the interview validating their initial impression. We all do it because it’s human nature, so it’s well worth getting your appearance in tune with the firm you’re walking into. It’s the most simple way of making the right impression and it’s a great way of signalling that you care and respect their time.      

How we feel about ourselves and how we’d like to be perceived comes across in the way we dress, which is why it’s incredibly important you think about your interview outfit. Dressing appropriately demonstrates to a prospective employer that you’re credible and you’re putting in a real effort to make the right impression. It can also make you feel better about yourself.

Think of it as a first date – you need to look the part.  

Wearing casual clothes for an interview with a professional services firm where the working environment tends to be more formal is obviously a no-no. On the flip side, a digital, creative or PR agency may be more open to the casual look, although this doesn’t mean that you should initially ever rock up wearing your weekend gear. It’s also worth noting here that most agency roles involve face-to-face client work, so you’ll be required to dress and act appropriately with more senior-level people too. Without question, an employer will be thinking about your presence in front of their most important clients.

You don’t need to look like you’ve just stepped off a catwalk.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your clothes calm, balanced and stylish. And, whatever you do, no bling. Rap stars get away with it but you can’t. Avoid loud and garish clothing and flash brand names. Always dress one or two steps up from your normal attire (even though the rules are a little more relaxed within the creative agency scene).

Don’t be afraid to show your personal flair, where possible, either. If your personal style is more adventurous, then it’s perfectly acceptable to go for a design-conscious and modern outfit – just remember to keep it understated! Men – you can’t go far wrong with dark trousers, a clean, white or light blue shirt and a nice jacket (and possibly a tie for non-agency roles) and girls – dark trousers, a blouse and a jacket, or a smart dress with a jacket, is perfectly acceptable too. (For more insight into the world of agency vs. client-side, visit, ‘Working agency or client-side?’.

Hiring decisions are emotional – dressing well signals that you’ve taken the time and effort to make the right impression.

Of course, your conduct and attitude are most important but, your image can immediately earn you instant respect before you’ve even said a word! Employers will also make a connection between your image and your ability; if you excel in one area (image), you’re likely to excel in others.

Want more practical advice on looking the part for your next interview? Or perhaps you’d like us to line up your next interview for you? Get in touch with us today.

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