How you present yourself at a job interview is as important as how you present your CV. You'd never hand over a badly formatted document dotted with typos and spelling mistakes to a prospective employer, would you? Well, arriving at a job interview in an ill-fitting outfit, scuffed shoes and chipped nail varnish shows the same lack of attention to detail and respect for your future employer as a scruffy CV.
But more than this, dressing for a job interview is about dressing for the particular company you hope to be part of, and the specific role you're interviewing for. So the parameters differ depending on whether you're in a corporate or creative industry. For the former, you want your clothes to suggest precision and efficiency. Your interview outfit should be chic but not showy, understated but not bland. However, if you're interviewing for a creative role, your clothes should demonstrate a hint of creative flair. They should have a subtle point of difference that distinguishes you from your peers. But your clothes should never be a focus of attention or the main talking point. An interview outfit should suggest confidence and self-assurance, not only in your choice of clothes but in your life and career also. It can be a tricky thread to unravel... how stylish is too stylish? So here are a few ideas on how to dress for both a corporate job interview and a creative one.
If you're interviewing for a multinational, law firm or similar organisation, a suit is an absolute prerequisite. I find black suits a little funereal, and grey (depending on the shade) can look a little wishy washy against pale skin tones, so navy is both a safer and more stylish bet. It's warmer than grey and less harsh than black, but it is still a colour that we associate with authority and formality. A single-breasted jacket looks modern, while a slim leg is a neater, more stylish option than a bootcut. A wide leg can look very elegant, but you must have the stature to pull it off. I think a slim leg looks less fussy for an interview. This suit from Massimo Dutti perfectly hits the mark. Pair it with either a white shirt or a silk top if you prefer the simplicity of no collar.
Slim-fit wool blazer, €69.99 (reduced from €169.99); slim-fit navy blue trousers, €79.95; both at Massimo Dutti
For a job interview, choose a pair of shoes with a moderate heel - 9" heels can look a little trashy and over-the-top. It's always a good idea to incorporate subtle textures into an outfit, even your workwear (a silk top will work well from this point of view), so a suede court would work beautifully with this suit. If you're tall enough, try a suede brogue instead.
Creatives have a little more leeway when dressing for an interview. Tailored separates can be a great way of demonstrating your own unique style without veering too far away from traditional interview clothing. Colour is also a way of adding a point of difference to your outfit. Why not try a two piece in a bold shade of raspberry or blue? A T-shirt is fine to wear under a jacket as long as it's good quality and hangs well. Try Finery London and Vince for great T-shirts.
If I was going for an interview, I'd probably opt for something like these side stripe trousers from Zara. They're smart and tailored, but with a fashion edge. I'd lose the jumper obviously, and pair them with a blazer and T-shirt, perhaps both in the same colour to keep the look a little uniform, then add more interest with my shoes or boots.
I generally keep jewellery to a minimum. But if you're outfit is very simple and unfussy, a statement necklace is one way of showing your unique style and personality. This applies to both corporate and creative job interviews. Don't bring an oversized handbag with you, as it can look clunky and feel awkward. And always pay attention to grooming, as this is all part of the package. You want to come across as the very best version of yourself.