You’ve heard the saying ‘dress for the job you want’? Well, what about how that job would want you to dress?
In other words: if you’re going for an interview, you want your interviewer to picture you doing the job. What you wear needs to show you’re serious about the role but also that you’re a good fit for the company culture – a three-piece suit is pretty much mandatory for a City job, but wear one to a creative agency and they might mistake you for their accountant.
That said, great tailoring does wonders for your confidence. We surveyed British men and over a third of them said they felt most professional and confident in a tailored suit. It follows, then, that making an effort to dress smartly will impress your interviewer and also give you a boost of confidence when it matters. Win-win.
So, back to the question in hand: what should you wear? Our advice is to tailor your outfit to the kind of company that’s interviewing you. Here’s our take on what to wear for four types of interview: corporate, business professional, business casual and creative.
The first rule of the corporate world? Wear a suit. If you’re interviewing for a role in finance, law or another hierarchal private sector company, you’re going to need to bring out your tailoring A-game.
The expectation will be for you to dress conservatively, so a three-piece suit is a smart move. Don’t just dig out your old black one though, you should step it up a little if you want to make a memorable impression.
Navy is universally accepted as businesswear as well as universally flattering. You can get away with a subtle pattern, like this navy stripe suit. It’s a modern take on the classic pinstriped uniform of City boys but sharply cut in a slim fit.
If you’ve plumped for a patterned suit, you’ll need to show a bit of restraint with the rest of your outfit. This is not the time or the place for flashy cufflinks. A pocket square probably isn’t needed either, but if you really want one, stick to plain white.
As for the tie? A striped one is a classic for a reason and will allow a little colour without going overboard.
Business professional can be decoded quite simply as ‘suits’. This is the world of 9-5 (and maybe a bit more) and office uniforms that haven’t quite got the business-casual memo yet.
So yes, a suit is a safe bet, but you don’t need to be quite as formal as you would in a corporate environment. You’re going to want your interviewer’s attention on you rather than what you’re wearing, but that’s not to say a little pattern won’t help you stand out.
This suit’s micro puppytooth design will show a little personality but its blue base colour is still in line with traditional businesswear. It’s also made with added stretch, so you’ll look smart but feel comfortable. And in our books, comfort equals confidence and confidence equals a successful interview.
Keep the rest of your outfit simple: an open-necked shirt is more relaxed than a buttoned-up shirt-and-tie combo. Plain white looks polished and professional, while the addition of a stretch dials up the comfort.
Shoe-wise, a pair of brown lace-ups will set this suit off nicely. Make sure to give them a good buff too.
Business casual turns formal down even more. It’s likely to be the sort of office where tailored trousers and a sweater are the norm, but you’ll have to dress more smartly when you’re meeting clients or doing a big presentation.
Here’s where your suit starts to look a little overdressed, but you’ll still be expected to err on the side of formal. The happy medium? Tailored separates in more casual fabrics and a little pattern clashing to stand out from the crowd.
This puppytooth jacket’s muted charcoal shade has a more relaxed feel but it’s precisely cut in a slim fit, so the overall effect is pulled-together. Show you’re not afraid to do things differently by clashing the puppytooth pattern with checked trousers. Navy looks great with grey, as does brown or green – the key is to keep your shades in a similar mid-tone.
Continue your masterful use of colour in the form of a deep-toned rollneck and finish with polished burgundy shoes. The result? Smart, but at ease. Exactly the vibe you’re going for.
Gunning for a gig in a creative agency or start-up? Traditional suits are pretty much a no-go here, as your recruiter will be more concerned with how you fit in with the company culture, and that culture is likely to lean heavily on casual kit.
Sadly, jeans aren’t going to cut it for your interview – you’re going to have to up the ante a bit. We suggest demonstrating you’re comfortable taking creative risks by outdressing the competition in a two-piece suit in an unmissable shade.
This copper one will show you’ve got a good eye for colour while being just muted enough to reassure you’re taking the interview seriously. It’s sharply cut in a slim fit with added stretch and a lightweight buggy lining that’ll keep you cool and calm even under questioning.
No creative work-look is complete without a pair of trainers, but don’t just throw on any old pair. Give your interview the respect it deserves with this pebbled leather pair. Still trainers, but trainers in a smart slimline profile and finished with a tan leather insert at the heel.
(New) job done.