In the current economic climate, it’s harder than ever before to get a job. Sometimes, hundreds of people are vying for the same position and enterprises are asking more and more their candidates to ensure they get the very best people for their team.
For interviewees, the process is a daunting one. This is the one chance they have to impress and that means everything from the answers they give to the way they walk into the room will be scrutinised. Perhaps one of the most influential factors of all when it comes to interviews is the clothes people wear.
Fashion has the ability to alter perceptions, change opinions and allow people to become whoever they want to be. A shy and retiring individual can gain confidence from putting on a smart suit with pearls and some high heels when strolling to an interview.
But what are employers really looking for clothes-wise when potential new colleagues walk into the room? And what should simply never be worn?
For women, one of the biggest fashion no-nos when it comes to interviews is mini skirts. They may be one of the most popular clothing items around, but an interview should be an opportunity for women to show off their knowledge and skills, not their legs. Anything too short does not look smart or sophisticated enough. Even if applying for a role at a creative company without a dress code, it is still important to make a good impression at the interview – and mini skirts are never acceptable.
The same goes for low necklines and sheer blouses. Although women will obviously want to look stylish in their interview, it isn’t a fashion show and sporting the latest trends isn’t the be all and end all (unless the job is in the fashion industry, of course). Plunging necklines are for glamorous gowns and nights out, not sitting in a reception area with three other women, all of whom have neatly buttoned up shirts. All low-cut tops say to employers is that people do not understand how to dress for an office environment – so do they know how to behave in one?
Bare legs – yes or no? This is something that is open to debate. While some people think it’s fine, other disagree. A good rule to follow is to consider the length of the skirt and the weather. If it’s a nice day and the skirt or dress comes to the knees or lower, bare legs are OK. If it’s any shorter or it’s the middle of winter, black tights are essential. Obviously if women have any cuts or bruises on their legs it’s never a good idea to be showing these off in an interview and if in doubt, go for a pair of flesh coloured tights. Look to Kate Middleton for inspiration – she never gets it wrong when it comes to tights and the length of her skirts.
So what does look good at an interview? Firstly, keep jewellery to a minimum. Jewellery is fine to wear, but don’t go for anything too showy – and definitely avoid jangly bracelets that clatter around on the desk the whole time. A small pair of earrings, a small necklace and simple rings are fine, as is a watch.
When it comes to shoes, both flats and heels look good as long as they are smart, scuff-free and have been given a coat of polish. Women shouldn’t be tempted to squeeze their feet into towering stilettos. This will only end in disaster and mean they are more likely to fall over than make a good impression. Instead, a pair of this season’s stocky heels are the perfect choice.
Both a skirt and top or a dress are fine. It is usually best not to wear anything too bright or gaudy and simplicity is key. Interviewers want to concentrate on the person they are talking to, not the busy, distracting pattern on their dress.
The main thing is to be comfortable. If interviewees are struggling to walk and have blisters because of their new heels, or are wearing a skirt so tight they can hardly sit down, they’ll be distracted, uncomfortable and will come across badly in the interview. Clothes should be used to help women feel empowered during an interview – and they’ll only do this if they’re comfortable and classy.