Your final months of university will see you juggling stress from many different sources. There’s the dissertation that is still lacking a few-thousand intelligible words, the part time job which allows you to scrape by, the social life that you’re desperately clinging on to, not to mention the daunting prospect of life after university. Post-grad employment can feel intimidating, and many recent graduates simply don’t know where to start. When you do get an interview, they really seem to creep up on you. After all, you’ve got enough going on at the minute and it’s difficult to fit all of the interview prep in! There’s one area that we can help you out with however: the interview dress code. Read our helpful guide and easily tick one thing off your check list!
If smart casual is specified on your interview invitation you may be sent spiralling into confusion. Do not fear! This ambiguous term simply means that you need to look presentable, while still feeling comfortable. Although it’s difficult to know where the line is, it is always better to aim for the more formal end of the spectrum if you’re in doubt.
Smart casual gives a little more leeway than the previous ‘formal’ option. A smart shirt paired with plain or patterned trousers is a good place to start. You could also pair this look with a blazer to give a more professional impression. Another option is a long-sleeved sweater with your shirt collar showing underneath — this gives off a formal, yet approachable impression. While you shouldn’t feel obliged to wear heels, don’t opt for trainers or anything too casual either. Flat pumps or neat ankle boots will do the job perfectly.
One step down from the suit — for the perfect business casual interview attire you should opt for a smart shirt, and suit trousers or slacks. Like the women, you have the option of going for a jumper over the shirt if your feel comfortable with a more casual look. Steer clear of jeans or polo shirts, and make sure you’ve ironed your attire impeccably!
Sometimes casual dress is the most suitable. Dressing casually would be the most appropriate option if the interview is for charity work or an unpaid internship. Remember, you still want to make a great first impression! So, choose an outfit that represents you well and will make you stand out to potential employers.
Comfort is key when it comes to casual interview wear, but you have to draw the line somewhere! The best recommendation would be jeans, or a skirt with tights. Pair either of these with a nice top or a jumper and shirt combo and voila! You’re interview ready. For footwear, follow the same guidelines as ‘smart casual’.
Jeans are definitely your best bet. However, steer well clear of ripped or baggy jeans. Try to avid sportswear of any kind, and choose instead and plain long-sleeved top, or a plaid shirt. Even though the interview is casual, trainers are always risky. Instead, choose a pair of brogues or Chelsea boots to complete your outfit.
You will know by researching the workplace you have applied to, whether you need to go super-formal, or whether the requirements will be more casual. If in doubt, check your interview email for any guidelines. If the interview is being conducted by the director of the company then it is advisable to play it safe and dress formal. Chances are, if you get to this stage, you’ll be facing some tough competition. You don’t want to fall at this last hurdle — so make sure you dress the part!
A suit of some kind is the best option for a formal interview. Whether you pair a suit jacket with trousers or a high-waisted pencil skirt, you will look smart and sophisticated. Suits don’t have to be boring either. Wear bold colours if you feel more confident in them or opt for neutral tones if they suit you better. Find a suit that perfectly flatters your body type and, more importantly, that you feel fabulous in.
In terms of shoes, choose a smart yet comfortable pair. If you feel confident in heels— go for it! But don’t feel pressured to wear high heels if you’re going to have trouble walking in them.
Like women, men should opt for a suit. Or at least smart suit trousers and a crisp men’s shirt. Choose a tailored suit that you feel comfortable in and that you feel reflects your personality. Smart shoes are an absolute must. Brogues are a good bet, as they are formal but not boring. Be sure to wear dark socks that will blend in. Another good tip is to carry a briefcase, you’ll look ready to walk into your first day on the job!
Some final tips
Comfort has to be the main focus of your outfit. If you feel uncomfortable it will show and undermine your interview confidence. If you go in feeling great, then you’re bound to shine! As for one final tip: stripped back is always better in terms of aftershave, jewellery, and makeup.
Now all that’s left to say is good luck!