Interview dressing is the holy grail of outfit choosing; what you wear really does matter. Workwear in general can be tricky, but the time to hit the nail on the head is when you are trying to get the job in the first place.
Your image reflects your competency and overall professionalism, a harsh truth perhaps, but true it is. Approach this task with as much precision and thought as you would your interview answers, and you can dress for interview success.
This is not the time to stand out for the wrong reasons. If it’s a corporate job you’re going for, remember that the corporate world has a particular style that should be broadly adhered to; even if you are interviewing around the outskirts of this industry.
Be memorable for what you say, not for what you wear.
The way to show your personality through your outfit is to accessorise with style. The way to show your style through your personality is to let your colleagues get to know you…over time. A luxury not provided by interview alone.
Many people ask me why workwear is so important, since they may not be client-facing, or the prevailing culture in their office is cool and casual. My answer is the same every time. Your clients don’t give you a promotion. Your colleagues do. So dress like you mean business. With this in mind it’s time to hit the shops. The key time for workwear purchases is August, as the Autumn/Winter stock arrives – right now we are in Spring/Summer limbo; the trickiest season to address in the office.
For the Summer months consider pencil skirts or tailored trousers with silk tops, or shift dresses and cropped blazers.
Capsule workwear wardrobes are your best bet; separates are more cost-effective than dresses as they allow for more combinations of outfits.
However, for interview (which can be at short notice), choose a dress. I break my own rule here as your ‘interview dress’ is your ‘uniform’- once time and thought has gone into choosing it, it’s done. Not something to have to worry about the night before.
If you are in a second interview position, then go for separates. You will have a better idea of the vibe of the workplace and can choose this outfit armed with more information. A dress has a smaller margin of error in terms of tucking, co-ordinating fabrics and texture and considering lengths and exposure.
Below you will see some options in the shops right now. Pencil cut or shift are the way to go – with a cap sleeve, or a light blazer / tailored jacket worn over. Avoid a skater or flared style, they appear girlie, not professional and are best left to the weekends. Fabric should be on the heavy side, even in Summer (this doesn’t necessarily mean dark) and texture or print are fine, as long as, like we said earlier, they don’t distract from the pearls of wisdom you are imparting!
Shoes are very important. Firstly, heels are almost always essential; the height is in your hands. Never go for a platform, always a pointed or round toe. At this time of year you can’t go wrong with a nude pointed or round-toed court. In Winter, a block-colour in suede has the same effect. Just note that the only patent shoe you should buy for work is black or nude, colours can look cheap and tacky.
Bring a bag large enough to carry documents (an extra copy of your CV, hard copies of references etc.) but small enough to sit on your arm or shoulder and not prove too cumbersome when meeting your interview panel. Your accessories let you show some of your own personal style – statement necklaces with a high or round neck add interest and focus, whereas a bangle or cuff can look great with a three-quarter-length sleeve. Choose a dainty piece if wearing silk or another light fabric.
Laura Jordan is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Design. She works as a fashion stylist and image consultant, specialising in corporate style and workwear wardrobes through her popular ‘StyleWorks’ seminars.
When you have your interview wardrobe selected, make sure to stop by gradireland.com for interview advice and tips!