Iron your blazers and shine your office shoes, your interview is just around the corner!
Dressing well is just as important as arming yourself with a killer resume or cover letter. Whether you’re attending an interview or going to a job fair, dressing well will enable you to put your best foot forward. Choosing your interview attire to mirror the modern workforce’s dress code is a lot like playing chess. You need to read the situation, know your opponents and prepare a winning strategy.
1. Level up on your dressing
When preparing for an interview, try to find out the next two positions directly above the one for which you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying for the position of Manager, dress like a General Manager! Use their dress code as the yardstick to gauge what to wear to your interview. This shows that you have the intention to move up in the organisation.
At the end of the day, going the extra mile by showing up in a suit and tie is always a safe move. It’s never a faux pas to dress – and think – like an executive!
2. Look the part
In business interactions, first impressions are everything. Research shows that non-verbal cues have more impact on the impression you make than anything you say. Presenting yourself well and in proper attire will make it easier for interviewers to shortlist you for hiring. Be sure to wear neutral colours and give the loud patterns a miss.
Give yourself the upper hand by choosing clothes that are comfortable and suitable for the office environment. It would also be helpful to watch videos on interviews to determine what’s considered formal, fashionable and appropriate.
3. Keep up with the trend
What you wear to an interview sends a message to the interviewer about yourself. Nothing sends a bad message like an outdated interview outfit. While you don’t have to wear the latest styles, it helps to wear something reasonably current – maybe even slightly innovative – to show that you are self-aware and up-to-date.
Fresh looks are good, casual is dangerous territory, and snazzy is downright unsuitable. So, keep the nose rings, sandals and ear studs for after office hours. And never dress like you just graduated, even if that might be case. Dress like you’ve had many years of working experience!
4. Consider the climate
Some jobs allow you to dress informally, especially if you’re looking to join the creative industry or a start-up. Do your research early on to avoid under- or over-dressing. Another factor to consider is the weather and current climate.
Wearing a thin dress shirt and tie may not be very practical during Malaysia’s monsoon season, especially since offices often have their central air conditioning on full blast. On the other hand, stuffy, oversized blazers may be uncomfortable if you’re attending an interview during the El Nino spell. Here’s a general rule of thumb: Dress the part, but make sure you stay comfortable.
5. Put comfort first
Interviews are nerve-wrecking enough on their own, so there’s definitely no need to add to the pain by being uncomfortably dressed! A shirt made of poor quality material might make you itchy, fidgety and uncomfortable, elevating your nervousness and anxiety. A sharp interviewer can smell a nervous candidate from a mile away, and you would be doing yourself a disservice by showing up in uncomfortable shoes that make your ankles bleed or a belt that’s two sizes too small, which restricts your breathing. Also, try not to wear brand new clothes that haven’t been broken in yet, and always remember to remove any tags if you absolutely must wear that brand new outfit!