If you’re heading to a job interview at an Australian surf camp, you might consider beachwear as suitable attire. But dressing for any other job interview like your heading to the beach (or the gym, or the sports field) just isn’t cricket.
But why should this matter to you?
It matters because we’re all governed by norms – the invisible, but ever present, social expectations about how we should (or shouldn’t) behave in certain situations. And the fabric of these social expectations extends to the fabric on your back. Whenever, wherever and whoever you’re with, these norms are constantly operating, and the rules governing our dress codes operate on a sliding scale: With ‘causal’ at one end (the aforementioned beachwear), to ‘formal-as-formal-can-be’ at the other (think top hat and tails and ball gowns). And then you have to choose a masculine dress code or feminine dress code. (But only you can decide which ‘look’ you rock best!)
So, I hear you ask, what does this have to do with preparing for a job interview? The answer is ‘lots’ – and here’s why:
Preparing for a job interview is more than planning answers to questions, it’s also about dressing for success - and dressing for the occasion. Almost all global professional services firms (banks, law firms, asset managers, accountancy firms etc) expect their staff to dress in ‘formal’, professional, business attire. Employees would, for instance, opt for dark shoes over trainers and would definitely ditch the denim. Meanwhile, there are firms with more ‘informal’ dress codes (start-ups or tech firms, like Google for instance), who may embrace candidates arriving to an interview with a more ‘casual’ look.
This matters to you because if you attend an interview with a bank (or other professional services firm), dressed in jeans and trainers, you will be in trouble. Firstly, you will drive a stake through the heart of their dress code policy. Second, you will receive a charge from the fashion police. And finally, and most importantly, you won’t get the job. (Feel free to try and prove me wrong).
Getting it right isn’t hard, but getting it wrong can be easy. So, if you’re attending a job interview and are unsure how to dress, follow these easy steps and avoid runway fails and fashion faux-pas.
Speak directly to the Recruitment Manager or HR team handling the vacancy that you’re applying for. Find out how exactly how candidates are expected to dress when they attend a job interview - and make sure you follow suit.
If you’re still in doubt, don’t dress down. If you have followed step one but are still unsure exactly what type of look to adopt, always aim for a more formal business professional look, rather than arriving too informal or casual. (No one ever got penalised for wearing a suit to a tech-firm interview).
If you want more detailed information on job interview dress code do’s and don’ts, or further advice on other aspects of preparing for your job interview, get some advice from an experienced interview coach!