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What to wear to your next job interview

There are so many different factors to consider when going for a job interview – how to answer questions, how to sell yourself, how to pass the technical testing phase, how to build that connection between yourself and the hiring manager (need help prepping for your next job interview, then download our free ‘Understanding Interview Questions’ guide). There are also factors of presentation, body language and first impressions. Yes, it is true what they say, first impressions last and it is no different in a job interview. If your first impression is not the best, it will be that much harder to change a hiring managers mind. It will mean every single response in that job interview will have to be at a 100% level. Does this seem harsh? Well, yes, it is, however, this is the reality in which we live in – people judge. People stereotype and make up conclusions of others without even knowing them. All you need to do is look at social media to get your proof.

Need more proof that people are judged by appearance- then read this article about a mum who is unable to get even a toilet cleaning job due to her facial tattoos – she is not even given the chance to interview for a job. Now, before you start with “well, that is an extreme case ” we know it is a little extreme and many do not have layers of facial tattoos on them, it does not change the fact that your presentation wont be judged in the same manner. Sadly, the way you present yourself whether it be untamed hair, rag clothing, body odour or even over the top makeup will be judged in the same manner as a heavily tattooed face – yes, you will be given the chance to interview for the job, but it does not mean you will be considered for it. Fair? No one is talking about fair – we are simply talking about reality.

So how should one present themselves in a job interview to avoid unnecessary bias?

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The Does and Don’ts 

First we want to highlight that we are not saying to alter your entire image – still be your authentic self, however, it is important to note the following:

  1. Clothing. Make sure you speak with HR on what the dress policy is before you interview. This information will guide you in how you should dress for the job. If you are told smart casual, then opt for jeans or chinos and a shirt. For extra points, add a blazer. If you are told corporate wear, then ensure you put on a power suit (tie for men, optional tie for women). Avoid sports and beach wear at all costs. Before you leave the house ask yourself this question – would I wear this on the weekend for coffee with friends? Is this something I will wear to a club? Can I do a yoga class in this? If the answer is no, most likely you are good to go.
  2. Hair. It must be clean and tamed. As long as it does not look like you just rolled out of bed, it should be fine.
  3. Makeup. It should not be too heavy – this is not drinks with friends on a Saturday night. Keep it fresh.
  4. Scent. Keep perfume to subtle tones. Some people may be sensitive to certain smells and you do not want to lose a job over a perfume.
  5. Shoes. Ensure they are clean and avoid trainers and open toe shoes. Those are both too casual and best left for the weekend. So no flip flops, sandals, runners, crocs, ugg boots or army type shoes.

Now, before you come at us with pitch forks, we want to make a few things clear – 1. Whilst some of this may seem obvious and think we are taking you, Dear Reader, for a fool – we are not. We are just aware that many individuals do dress inappropriately to job interviews, so we want to ensure there is no confusion about what is and is not suitable.

2. Whilst you may feel we are dictating how you should present yourself, how to wear your makeup and so on, and that none of that should take away from your skills- we agree, it should not. However, we also know that there are certain ways one must present themselves in certain environments. For example – it is your best friends wedding and the dress code is black tie. Will you then show up in jeans and runners? Will you scoff at your friend for even putting in a dress code in the first place? Or will you respect the look and feel they are going for on their big day? Or, let’s say you are going to the beach with friends – will you wear beach/summer attire or will you dress up as though you are going to a party at a local night club? So as you see, there is a time and place to wear certain clothing. The work place is no different.

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Did you know colours matter?

If you want to take things to the next level, then choose your colours wisely. Colours actually have a subconscious connection to certain feelings. It is a game of psychology.

By throwing in one memorable item of clothing – be it a blazer, shoes, tie, scarf, necklace or shirt in a bright stand out piece can in fact make you stand out for all the right reasons and create all certain type of feels.

So next time you think about wearing all black – maybe consider the colour wheel first.


Need help with your interview skills, then we have a comprehensive interview coaching package – we personalise your training to you and your needs. Check out our service here . We also cover topics of presentation not only in terms of appearance, but in terms of body language and subtle communication ques that will make a lasting great first impression. We are job interview coaches based in Melbourne, however, we cater Job Interview Coaching all over Australia. Reach out to us today for a free 30 minute chat to see how we can help you in your next Job Interview!


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