Choosing how to dress for an interview is always a bit of a struggle. Unfair though it may be, first impressions make a big difference. They can be the difference between getting the job or going back to lousy job websites while eating cereal in your underwear.

Psychological studies show better presented people are judged to be more intelligent, trustworthy and moral than their more scraggly counterparts. This is mostly because of the “beautiful = good” association hammered in by every Hollywood film ever. But like it or not, it’s there and it will affect your chances of getting hired.

So what should I wear?

While you obviously want to look sharp, tidy and competent, here are a few guidelines:

Be appropriate

Be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Always be Batman.

Be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Always be Batman.

Although three-piece suits and ball gowns are fab, rocking up to a job interview in either (or both) will more likely end with you being the butt of every Disney princess-related office joke for the next month. Similarly, coming in slacks and flip-flops doesn’t inspire much confidence in your sense of fashion or your mental stability.

Research the company beforehand to see what sort of office culture they have. Not all companies are require you to suit up. In fact many new businesses, especially those in IT, marketing or communications (the types of offices with pinball machines and a minibar), try to encourage a casual working environment.

Even in these Googlesque offices, however, a t-shirt at an interview may not be optimal (unless it’s really funny, ironic or references a pop-culture classic, like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones). Wearing a nice button-up shirt with jeans for guys and a pencil skirt and a top for girls shows you’ve put a little bit of effort in and take the job seriously.

Either way, scope it out and dress accordingly.

Colour theory helps you dress for an interview

Corporations spend millions on image management each year, much of this going into research on the effect of colour and shape in their branding. You may as well borrow a page or two for your benefit.

Look at these two pictures:

GW Bush gets a job

Blue Bush gets the job

Which one do you like better? Neither would be the valid answer but most people, if they had to choose, would say the one on the right, with the blue tie. This is because the colour blue calms, puts people at ease and makes you seem trustworthy, where as red presents you as strong but possibly also aggressive and threatening.

Most image consultants advise wearing light blue to interviews to give the best impression. Look at these two examples:

Blue Obama dresses for success

Trust me

 

Respect me

So there you are: dress in blue and you’re in the crew, dress in red and you may as well stay in bed.

Now you’re dressed, maybe you should think about what you’re going to say. Maybe. But fear not, we have an article about that too! Read it here.

Good luck!

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