Monday, July 15, 2013

Winning Image At Job Interviews - How To Dress For An Interview

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In a professional’s life, no other time requires your image to be at the spotless best than while attending an interview. Due to the limited time available to make an assessment and the need to come to a fair conclusion, all areas of your image are scrutinized, quickly and thoroughly along with your competences: your appearance, speech, comportment, even your social media image.

To succeed and get the job you desire, you have to stand out. This article has been written to help you do just that, if you take your time to practice what is written here. The article is in four parts, intended to be released in series, so that you can have just enough per time to focus on and get right; the parts are:

Part 1: How to Dress for an Interview
Part 2: Responding to Questions
Part 3: Posture and Body Language
Part 4 : Mind Your e-Mage and After your Interview


Interviews are one of the occasions where first impression determines much of what happens within less than half an hour, and after. Dressing appropriately is not the ultimate judge of your competence; it may not get you the job by itself, but sure will give you a competitive edge and a positive first impression that could very well set the tone for the entire interview. If you must be taken seriously, and let your intelligence have a piercing impression on the panel, then you ‘dress seriously’ like someone who means business and actually respects the organization being represented by the panel.

Dressing shabbily to an interview could be a big distraction, so could ‘overdressing’. Simplicity, not sophistication, is the word to bear in mind when appearing for an interview; that of course depends on the level or position you are being interviewed for.

The typical interview dress code is business professional, it is safe for any industry that you are into, whether creative or conservative, (although the creative ones such as IT and advertising could permit a more relaxed appearance). Interview dresses are generally not relaxed for the ‘intending’. Women particularly need to be more concerned about their appearance because they have more areas to attend to-and get it wrong, besides, a woman’s appearance seems to be more important than a man’s especially if she is interviewed by a woman. It has been established that the rate of turns-downs for women at interviews is three times that of men’s for improper dressing.

Generally, when appearing for an interview, you should look very neat, wearing clean, well-pressed and fitting clothes; moderate jewelry, well-groomed hair and nails; proper and polished shoes. Shoes are critical accessories. Many people judge taste, attention to details and diligence by just looking at your shoes. This may be subjective and unfair, but worth considering.

Interview Appearance Guidelines for Men 

Suit: Matching suit in navy, black or gray (pin stripe or solid) is most appropriate. Alternatively, wear a navy blazer and gray slacks.

Shirt: Wear white or light blue, long sleeve, dress shirt

Tie: Choose silk tie in subtle pattern that would contrast with the jacket and coordinate with (not necessarily match) the shirt.

Shoes/Belt: Clean, heeled (not flat heel), lace-up leather shoes, well-polished too. Black is recommended strongly, you cannot go wrong with it. Also, wear a leather belt with unobtrusive buckle (forget about your spinning buckles here), it should blend with or match the shoes.

Grooming: Low-cut hair style is best and take care of your nails (clip them) and attend to mouth odour by chewing something minty before entering the room, or use a mint spray; don’t leave the gum in your mouth!

Other Accessories: Your watch should not be too bogus, don’t wear earrings even if you usually do, and don’t wear more than a wedding band on your finger. Excessive cologne could cause allergic reactions from your interviewers, so keep it mild. Don’t carry in a fabric laptop bag with you or your ‘transparent folder’ or that flat office file; better carry a briefcase or a simple portfolio that contains photocopy and originals of your credentials and Curriculum Vitae.

Interview Appearance Guidelines for Women 

Suit/dresses: Choose skirt or trouser suit in dark colours (black, navy or gray); conservatively tailored dress (you should wear a jacket over it for more professional look); if the skirt is light, wear a dark coloured jacket. Skirt or dress should be knee length or slightly longer.

Shirt/blouses: Your blouse or shirt should provide a little more visual interest (than the man’s) but avoid transparent, tight fitting, low neck line, waistline-revealing tops. Arms should be covered to the biceps at least.

Shoes: Wear low-heeled pumps or loafers in dark neutral colours; avoid open toe shoes best reserved for social occasions. Ensure it is clean, scuff-free and well-polished.

Grooming/Make-up: Attend to mouth odour as recommended for men, wear natural-looking make-up and clear nail polish.

Accessories: Do not carry a briefcase with a purse- one at a time. Use a thin necklace to accentuate your neckline and keep the pendant simple. Only one earring per ear and avoid the dangling ones, and only one ring per hand.

Some interview require certain dress codes, if you are not certain, call the human resources department of the company. Overall, the aim with the dress code guidelines is to draw attention to your face; what you are saying and your general deportment.

Now that you have dressed to impress the panel, how do you speak to complement your appearance? Read this in Responding to Questions


This article series “Winning Image at Job Interviews” was written by Boye Falonipe, Principal Consultant at Noir Enhancement - Business Image and Protocol Consultant ( ) Boye is the author of the essential manual on business dressing “Succeeding with Appearance in Business and Career” ( )

Twitter: @NoirEnhancement
Facebook: Boye Falonipe


  1. Great post, and very necessary.

  2. I really learnt a lot from this post. Thank u very much.

  3. nice tips..I like!!


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