Interview advice: what not to wear

Choosing what to wear to your interview requires some thought, but it shouldn’t be cause for a freak out. This is an opportunity to get the day off to flying start.

Tes Editorial

A Person In Fancy Dress Waits For A Job Interview

If you look good you’ll feel good, and that will only boost your chances of wowing the panel. 

Keep it simple

Now is not the time to think outside the box. Wear a well-fitted suit or dress of a solid, dark colour. It may sound boring, but interviewers want to see you looking like a pro.

If the price of a new outfit is beyond your budget, look out for sales and shop online, or ask a friend of similar size if you can borrow something. Remember though, whatever you wear must fit you well; you might not think an oversized jacket is a deal-breaker, but a member of the panel might. 

Plan ahead

Think about how you are getting to the interview. If it’s a long train journey consider taking clothes to change into when you arrive. A crumpled blouse or sweat-drenched shirt won’t win you any prizes in front of the panel. A change of clothes also avoids any potential spillages ruining your new outfit.

Don’t overheat

Check the weather forecast before you decide on an outfit. If in doubt, wear layers so you can adjust if the temperature changes. The last thing you want is to be pouring sweat or have the chatter of your own teeth spoil your performance.

Make sure you’re comfortable

Comfort is crucial, so make sure that you can move around with ease. Check that you can sit down and stand up comfortably at all times. You’ll be nervous enough without the added concerns over whether the seams in your ill-fitting suit are about to burst.

Don’t wear footwear that is likely to be uncomfortable or trip you over. You may be asked to go on a school tour and face planting in front of a group of pupils will really spoil your morning.

Add just a pinch of personality

If you want to add a dash of individuality to an otherwise plain appearance, choose a blouse/shirt or accessory that expresses your personality. An important rule to remember is not to go over the top.

You might describe yourself as outgoing and bubbly, and a glittery top might seem like the perfect way to express that, but it won’t look right at interview.

Easy on the accessories

Interviewers want to focus on what you are saying, not on the unusual earrings dangling from your ears, so keep accessories to the minimum.

No time for comedy

Men should definitely save gimmicky socks and wacky ties for another occasion. Aim for elegance and choose neutral/complementary colours for socks and ties. Don’t think your ankles won’t be under scrutiny; Homer Simpson socks will almost definitely be a black mark.

Don’t cause a stink

By all means wear a light scent, but don’t douse yourself in perfume or aftershave. If the interview room is small you don’t want the panel choking on the overpowering aroma of Old Spice. 

Be well groomed

Choose a haircut that flatters your face, or if you want to keep your hair long, wear it up or back for a professional clean look. Men should try and keep facial hair tidy, and keep any hair styling on the conservative side.

Keep skin as nature intended

Women, use make-up in moderation. Avoid hot red lips and heavy eye-liner. Guys, absolutely not. Visible tattoos can be a no-no, so it's always best to school's code on dress and appearance.