The Graduate’s Guide to the Perfect Interview Outfit

It’s super stressful when you’re an upcoming graduate, believe me I remember coming to the end of my Public Relations MA. Juggling late nights at the library for revision, spending hours meeting that 10,000-word target for your dissertation, and trying to find a job to walk into after graduation can get a bit too much. Not to mention that part-time job and trying to have some sort of a social life!

When you eventually get invited to an interview, they are often with short notice and come around quickly — leaving you with little time to decide what to wear! CT shirts, retailers of menswear and suits, have given me some advice on what to wear depending on your gender and the type of interview.

Casual Interviews

Not all interviews require you to dress uber-smart. If you’re interviewing for bar work, charity work or a casual unpaid internship, then casual dress is fine.  Forthese interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing and if unsure, err on the side of caution. Definitely don’t go TOO casual.

If you’re a woman…

For women, skirts and jeans are appropriate in a casual interview — wear what you feel comfortable in. To ensure you still look presentable, you should avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of jeans. Since it’s likely to be a relaxed vibe, you shouldn’t worry too much about footwear. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels.

If you’re a man…

For men, it can be hard to dress casually without looking too underdressed. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but similar to our advice for women, steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these will not give off the best impression. A safe option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket. Remember it’s casual, but you don’t want to look like you’ve just got out of bed!

When the Interview states ‘Business Casual’

Some interviews may specify business-casual attire on the invitation. This may be because they have this dress code in the office or it may be for an assessment day where you are expected to be there all day and recruiters want you to feel comfortable. If you are unsure what to wear, it’s best to dress too formally rather than too casually to avoid giving off the wrong impression.

For the ladies…

With a business-casual dress code, you have more freedom with what you wear than in a strictly professional interview. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in. Or, wear a smart shirt with a wide collar underneath a long-sleeved sweater. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket. You can get some really nice smart-casual footwear at Lotus Shoes.

For the men…

For men, to be appropriate for a business-casual dress code, you should wear a smart shirt. Why not invest in a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased but this is avoided through the non-iron garment. You should avoid a polo shirt, as this is too casual and still steer clear of wearing jeans.

Professional Attire for Formal Interview

For formal interviews, you should adopt a professional look. These interviews could be in front of directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship. You want to look your best here; your appearance certainly counts, and with the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles. Most interviews will require this kind of dress, and I would suggest sticking to this kind of outfit if you’re at all unsure – you cannot be overdressed, but you can definitely be underdressed!

Women’s Formal Interview Outfit Ideas

In a professional situation, women should opt for a suit. When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel.

Men’s Formal Interview Outfit Ideas

Men should wear a suit when it comes to a formal interview, too. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style, a slim leg may be best suited for you and your shape.

Whatever you wear, make sure you do your research and get enough sleep the night before! If you want some tips on how to get a job in marketing or PR, click here. Once you’ve got the job, here are some ideas for healthy lunchboxes.

*Collaborative Post*