In the last part, we looked at the basic rules to consider when dressing for an interview. In this part, I will run through the do’s and don’ts to make sure that your chosen outfit avoids common pitfalls. I will also analyse some of my recent outfits to see how they stack up for interview material. Finally, a quick look at the second interview is in order, and you’re ready to go.
1. Don’t buy a suit if you don’t have one. Unless you can see yourself wearing it in your new job (and enjoying it) a suit is not necessary these days. A blazer and skirt or pant combo will look just as professional and it will communicate your personal style better than a suit will. Well matched separates give a much more modern corporate look.
2. Don’t leave your outfit planning to the night before or the morning of. This could lead to a panic and tardiness, and obviously you don’t want that. Think ahead and try on the combination a few days ahead in case you need to get anything cleaned or replaced.
3. Don’t wear adventurous footwear. This is not the time to show off your latest lace up heels. Stay away from open toed shoes and sandals, save them for summer days. Stick to a plain pump or flat. Fashionable footwear can be scary for the non-fashion initiated.
4. Don’t experiment with a new look. You might not like it and you won’t feel comfortable. Tried and tested is best at this time.
1. Do make sure that the outfit will be comfortable to sit, walk and stand in. But also make sure that you like the outfit, if you don’t you won’t be comfortable and you won’t look comfortable. This will come through in the interview.
2. If you’re buying anything new for the interview, do consider whether you will wear it again and how. If you’re not going to wear it again, then it’s money wasted. Interview pieces can be versatile. Take the black blazer, which will see you through many work days and is perfect thrown over jeans on the weekend.
3. Do incorporate items that always work: a white shirt, a black blazer, tailored pants, pencil skirt, pumps, tote bag.
4. Do keep your makeup and hair elegant and simple. Clean hair worn loose but neat (no bed head!) or pulled back in a pony or bun is always a winner. As for makeup, neutral colours are best, but if a red lip is your thing, go for it, just keep the rest of your makeup light.
5. Do have regard to your hands. You don’t need manicured nails, but chipped nail polish is not a good look. If you do get a manicure, neutrals or reds work well on shortish nails.
Let’s analyse my recent outfits
This outfit is a good example of my preference for “relaxed tailoring” (which is kind of an oxymoron isn’t it). However, I only need to change my silk drop crotch pants for a more tailored style, and the outfit becomes interview appropriate wouldn’t hesitate to wear flats, so the shoes can stay, and I think the necklace adds a nice personal touch to the outfit allowing some of my personality to come through.
This outfit just doesn’t work for an interview. The biggest flaw is the tank, it’s too revealing for an interview, and it doesn’t look professional without a blazer. The second mistake is the shoes. I love these floral sandals but they aren’t appropriate for an interview. The floral pattern is too frivolous and I don’t recommend sandals. Finally, the bucket bag is OK but a tote or a shoulder bag would look more professional. The only remaining piece – the skirt – is fine as it is a simple print, as part of a more appropriate ensemble.
Despite appearing to tick all the boxes, here are a couple of reasons why this outfit may not be suitable for an interview, but I would risk them anyway, as they are a good reflection of my personal style shown in an understated manner. The pants are cropped above the ankle, which I find to be the most flattering pant length. This means that they ride up when I sit and some might not like that amount of leg shown when wearing pants. Also, the shoes are covered in small silver studs, but are balanced by their low heel (not shown in photo). These two things combine to make this a riskier interview choice.
The second interview
Now that you have this nailed down, let’s quickly think about the second interview. Dressing for your second interview could go one of two ways. It’s either going to be more relaxed because you have already had the first meeting, or you need to keep it just as tight because you’ve now progressed to meeting senior management. Either way, if you have stuck to the basic rules, you don’t need to do anything significantly different.
But let’s say that your second interview is something out of left field for example, an activity where you meet the team at a weekend function. Don’t panic. This is where a blazer is your best friend. Consider anything you might wear on the weekend. Now picture it with a blazer and notice the difference. The blazer will dress up anything. So you might choose jeans with a simple t-shirt, dressed up with the blazer.
Aggie Goss is a Sydney based lawyer and fashion instagrammer @style_by_aggie.