dress for success

Dress for success at your graduate job interviews

You want graduate recruiters to remember you, not your clothes, so find out what to wear to boost your confidence and create a professional impression at interview.
Different industries have slightly different dress codes, but even so, you need to err on the side of formality.

Making a good impression as soon as you walk through the door will help you to get your graduate interview off to a flying start. People tend to form an opinion of someone new within a few seconds of meeting, so you need to make sure your appearance works in your favour by dressing the part and presenting yourself in the best possible light.

How should you dress for job interviews?

Imagine what you'd wear if you got the job and were going to a meeting with important clients. The safest bet is a business-like dark suit, perhaps in navy or charcoal grey, with a light-coloured shirt.

You want the interviewer to remember you, not your clothes, accessories or scent. This is not the time to experiment with bold patterns, clashing colours, hats or dramatic jewellery, unless you're going for a job where your individual sense of style is likely to be a selling point. Try to look as conventional and tidy as possible. Hair should be tidy and any tattoos or piercings should be hidden.

Different industries have slightly different dress codes, but even so, you need to err on the side of formality. You may want to be creative, but employers' own likes and dislikes could be used against you. Even in creative industries such as the media or publishing, where day-to-day office dress may be more casual than in finance or law, interview candidates are still expected to dress smartly.

Interview style tips for men

It's best to avoid goatees, stubble, long hair and full-on beards; the clean-shaven, short-haired look is the safest bet. Accessorise your suit with a belt and dark, plain or simply patterned tie, and leave your novelty socks in the drawer.

Interview style tips for women

Keep make-up low-key and natural and make sure your clothes aren't too revealing (this includes wearing a shirt or blouse that is long enough to keep your midriff covered!). If you go for a skirt, it should be knee-length and it's best to wear tights. A smart trouser suit is also acceptable.

Opt for understated, classic jewellery rather than big bangles and jangly earrings. Where accessories are concerned, if in doubt, leave it out.

Hair should be under control and off your face. If it's long or unruly you might want to tie it back or put it up. Don't fiddle with it during the interview.

Shoes should be appropriate for the office. Go for the conservative option: peep-toes may show off your pedicure but an interviewer might not think they look professional. You want to be remembered for your obvious suitability for the job, not for the colour of your nail varnish.

Prep your outfit in advance

You should feel comfortable and confident in your interview clothes; you shouldn't feel self-conscious. Make sure your clothes fit and are clean - check well in advance so you can make repairs (nothing worse than finding a hole or losing a button just before you walk into the interview room).

You don't have to forge a long-term commitment with your iron, but while you are attending interviews, make sure you wield it regularly! Small touches like a crisp shirt and clean shoes can really boost your confidence and help you feel the part.