What to Wear for an Interview — A Graduate Guide

It can be tough when you’ve almost graduated. Juggling late nights at the library for revision, spending hours meeting that 10,000-word target for your dissertation, and trying to find a job to walk into after graduation can get a bit too much. Not to mention that part-time job and trying to have some sort of a social life. When you eventually get invited to an interview, they are often with short notice and come around quickly — leaving you with little time to decide what to wear! CT shirts, retailers of men’s shirts and suits, gives us some advice:

When it’s casual

It’s usually safe to dress casually when you’re going for a position at a charity or for unpaid work. For these interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing.

For women

If you’re a woman heading for a casual interview, it’s suitable to wear skirts or jeans. To ensure you still look presentable, you should avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of slacks or jeans.

Don’t concern yourself too much about footwear. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels.

For men

It’s tough to get it right when dressing casually, as you don’t want to look underdressed. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but similar to our advice for women, steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these will not give off the best impression. A safe option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket.

When it’s business casual

On some occasions, you may be asked to dress business-casual. This may be because they have this dress code in the office or it may be for an assessment day where you are expected to be there all day and recruiters want you to feel comfortable.

When you are unsure about what to wear, it’s always best to dress more formally. This avoids giving off the wrong impression.

For women

When dressing for business-casual, you don’t have to be entirely formal. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in.

Why not wear a smart shirt with a wide collar underneath a long-sleeved sweater? This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket.

For men

In these types of interviews, you should dress smartly. Why not invest in a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased, but this is avoided through the non-iron garment.

Steer clear of a polo shirt, as this is too casual, and avoid jeans too.

When it’s professional

Always dress professionally for a formal interview. These interviews could be in front of directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship. You want to look your best here; your appearance certainly counts, and with the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles.

For women

Try a suit for a professional interview. When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel.

For men

Always wear a suit for a formal interview. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style, a slim leg may be best suited for you and your shape.

Things to avoid

One of the main things to do is to make sure that you’re comfortable in your interview outfit — it will show. However, there are a couple of things that you should avoid:

  • Too much perfume or aftershave.
  • Too much jewellery or makeup.
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