‘37% of bosses say they have decided against hiring an applicant because of the way they dressed’ (TheLadders survey, quoted in The Guardian). Based on a survey of 500 British bosses, more than half of the interviewers would ‘hold it against male applicants if they failed to wear a tie, a jacket, or turned up in chinos’, with 95% of bosses interviewing female applicants agreeing low-necked tops and no tights are ‘unsuitable interview attire’.
Sometimes it can be tricky to decide what to wear for an interview, especially if you know that the company you’re applying to don’t have a strict dress code. At a recent CES workshop, a student asked an employer what he should wear at interview. This was the reply…
‘At South East Water, it’s not uncommon for our employees to wear chinos. Having said that, if you were coming for an interview, chinos wouldn’t give me a very good first impression. It’s always best to wear a suit. Show you have made an effort, and you will have more of a chance at succeeding at interview… you’ll have plenty of time to wear your chinos when you work there!’ –Amelia Wilson (Training Specialist at South East Water), response to a student.
Generally, the advice is to go for neutral rather than bright colours. There are, of course, exceptions to all of these ‘rules’. For example, in a creative organisation, a plain coloured suit might not be as appropriate.
Unfortunately, a lot of the statistics on interview attire are very gender-specific. You can find advice on gender neutral interview clothing here. Further advice can be found from the Rochester Institute of Technology who suggest that you should ‘dress professionally for the gender you would like to be seen as’.
The best advice is to be smart and presentable – make sure you’ve cleaned your shoes and ironed your clothes!