Your carefully crafted CV is what landed you the interview, but once you walk in the door of a prospective employer’s office, you can no longer rely on just your list of specialised skills or impressive work experience. In part 1 of this series, we offer top tips on how to dress for success so you do yourself justice.

Why first impressions matter

Like it or not, your interviewer will make up their mind about you within 30 seconds of first meeting you, and this decision will be largely based on your appearance.

Many people will think that this is an unfair way to assess people, but this is your chance to gain an edge on your competition. If an employer has a group of candidates who are all qualified, with similar skills and work experience, how do they decide on which person to choose?

By dressing well, you will make a good first impression on your interviewer, which will set the tone of your interview. The way you present yourself will make you stand out from other applicants, and in a fiercely competitive job market, any advantage you can give yourself could be the difference between landing and losing the job.

The planning stage

Just like any other stage of job hunting, research is imperative to your success. What is the company culture like, and how does this influence the dress code? Call the organisation in advance to see what they expect you to wear, or do some research on their website. If you dress like you already work there, then it will be easier for your interviewer to picture you in the role.

Make sure to prepare in advance. Choose a few outfits that may be suitable and then try them on, assessing each look based on these factors:

• Do you still look like yourself?
• Do you look like you could work for the company
you’re interviewing for?
• Do you feel confident?
• Do you feel physically comfortable in the clothes?
• Are the clothes in good condition, and do they fit
you properly?

If you answer yes to all of these questions, then you’ve found the right outfit. Prepare in advance by making sure it’s washed, pressed, and ready to go.

Need some help? Tips for interview-friendly attire

For the ladies:

• Keep it professional by choosing high necklines and
low hemlines
• If you’re known for your accessorizing, try to tone
it down. Lots of jewellery is just more to fiddle
with, which could be distracting for your
• Suits look smart on any body type
• If you go with a dress or skirt, wear tights
• Put on some makeup: use a little foundation, blush,
mascara, and lipstick. This will create a polished
look and draw attention to your face, allowing your
potential employer to focus on what you’re saying
• If you’re comfortable walking in heels, then choose
a modest, business-appropriate pair. If you have a
hard time keeping your balance, a flat shoe in
patent leather will work since they look smart with
a suit
• Make sure your nail polish isn’t chipped – this
always looks messy and will reflect negatively on
• If you twiddle with your hair, tie it back so it
doesn’t distract you in the interview.

For the gentlemen:

• Wear a fitted, dark suit. The fit is important; if
your jacket is too big, it gives the impression
that you’re playing dress-up
• Make sure your shirt is lighter than your jacket
and tie
• Choose a tie with a subtle pattern
• Refrain from mixing any patterns
• Shine your shoes; studies have revealed that women
check out people’s footwear when they first meet
you. This is a great chance for you to make a good
impression on your female interviewer.

For everyone:

• Outerwear: This is the first thing your prospective
employer will see. Make sure that your coat and hat
look professional as well. Show up in a classic-cut
pea coat or modern trench, but leave windbreakers
and other types of casual coats at home
• Have glasses? Put them on: A study by Henleys
eyewear revealed that 90% of people believe that
those with glasses are attractive, intelligent, and
approachable, while 1/3 of adults think glasses
make people look professional
• Keep it simple: Don’t wear any items that are
unnecessary or may be a distraction to you or your
• Your success is in the bag: Refrain from colourful
backpacks with logos that may make you appear
juvenile or unprofessional. Sport a bag that is
neutral, compact, and complements your outfit.

Anxious about your upcoming interview? In part 2 of this series, we’ll discuss the different types of interview styles you should be prepared for, and offer tips on how to best handle each one.

Author's Bio: 

To find more valuable interview tips and for human resources jobs visit us at