How Critical is Your Outfit Choice When It Comes to Job Interviews?

The interview process can be cut-throat. A psychology study carried out by Frank Bernieri, Ph. D. has shown that, within the first 10 seconds of being introduced to an interviewer, they will have made a decision on the likelihood of employing you. If you’re not dressed appropriately, the way you choose to present yourself could very well be your downfall.

Imogen Lamport at Inside Out Style believes “It’s imperative that you dress well for a job interview. Recent research shows that within in fractions of a second your interviewer has decided how: likeable, trustworthy, competent and dominant you are.”

“It doesn’t matter how much it may sound superficial to judge people on first impressions, the reality is we all do it – the unconscious bias is at play.” – Jon Michail, CEO and founder of Image Group International

“First impressions matter because we feel before we can think. Emotions are faster than thinking.” – Voight Holgar from Mind Skill

So why is a visual impression so important? Bernadette Payne founder of ‘That’s My Style’ believes: “If someone is dressed well, we have greater confidence in their ability. If they make an effort with their appearance, then we assume they will have pride in their work and clients.”

Squeeze in a confident greeting, sturdy handshake and a sharp outfit and you can expect to soar. Leave any of these key ingredients behind and its back to polishing your CV and filling out application after application. Lucky for you, we think we’ve cracked the method and it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg, either; you can invest in great interview pieces from retailers such as Debenhams, and save your pennies using My Favourite Voucher Codes.

Get to Know the Role & Company You’re Applying To

You may think your safest bet is to keep your outfit very simple and formal. Go for black slacks and a pretty but plain blouse or shirt, or even a matching two-piece suit. But look at it like this: if you’re going for a role in the fashion and design sector, a boring, generic outfit isn’t going to prove you as someone with their pulse on the latest trends. However, if it’s a position in business and finance, the former could be the appropriate choice.

Try your best to match the company culture and as Simon Bennett, Career Coach and Managing Director at Glide Outplacement says; “Choose an appropriate outfit for the job, company and the industry, including clothes, accessories and make-up. What will work for a creative arts organisation will probably not work in the banking sector. Often there are informal ‘uniforms’ that people working a particular field will wear. Although individuality is a good thing, it’s better to play it safe at a job interview and not to appear too different.”

Do your research on the company – you might even be able to find a note on dress code in the interview invite, or somewhere on their site. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of employers and taking into consideration what they’re wearing in their pictures and what they deem professional. As well as this, consider layering up so you can find a comfortable balance when you arrive in the room your interview will take place. Overheating or shivering are the last things you want to be conscious of when it comes down to the more gruelling parts.

If in doubt, “call the recruiter before your interview and ask them what the expectations are for your attire.” – Mya Le, Personal Style Coach

Other Things to Remember

In a study, whilst 55% of 2000 bosses believe the way you dress makes up a first impression, there are other important aspects to your appearance to consider. It sounds cheesy and maybe even a bit obvious, but 38% said little to not smiling gives a bad impression. Although you may be feeling nervous, the act of smiling will have immediate effects, both on your own body and those around you.

For one thing, smiling is contagious. If you smile, your interviewer is likely to meet you in the middle and, subsequently, it’ll probably put those pesky nerves at ease. Biologically, smiling releases those feel good hormones like endorphins and serotonin and stops you feeling so stressed. ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ was never so true, all with the help of a slightly forced smile. Also consider other mannerisms like too much gesticulating, playing with your hair and maintaining a good posture and steady eye contact.

The clothes you choose to wear to your interview are a pretty important choice. It’s all about first impressions and getting your interview off to a positive start right from the offset when you meet the person interviewing you. For all interviews, it’s always good to aspire towards smart clothing, because realistically when are you going to be in a situation where jeans and a T-shirt are perfectly fine, unless explicitly stated?

Remember the small things count and accessories also play a part, “accessories may tell about your attention to details, your work style, your innovative thinking and so much more… Your dress can be very simple and smart, while your jewellery will tell the story without you saying a word.” – Lara Gems, Founder and Creative Director at Gems In Style

“A wristwatch is a powerful tool and can say a lot about the way someone carries themselves in business and life, a great way to create a strong first impression.” – Jonathan Hughes-Lewis, Jonathan David Jewellers 

“While we all want to be able to see past what people wear, and accept who they are by what they say and what they do, we have already assessed their presentation and stored this visual information away for future reference. It then becomes a filter in which we listen to them. And some people apply this filter to varying degrees. Sometimes the application of this filter is light and other times is it intense. So why would you want to leave your personal visual messaging to trial & error or chance, when you can take actions to be responsible for how you come across to others.” – Mya Le, Personal Style Coach

Our other top tips include opting for clothing you know you feel physically and mentally comfortable in. Finally, don’t forget to smile – it’ll showcase you as a friendly, confident candidate who might just be worth hiring.