So you’ve hurdled the first obstacle in the recruitment process and have been offered an interview for your next role. This warrants a modest pat on the back but now to the harrowing question –What do I wear? Unlike deciding what to throw on to university for the day, or which outfit to wear to dinner with your in-laws (both equally important occasions in their own right), dressing for an interview is a whole other ball game!
The importance of self-presentation for the interview process cannot be stressed enough as this opportunity only lends itself to a select few. While it may seem like a minor decision, self-presentation has the potential to make or break your chance of progressing, so let’s make sure you get it right! Studies have revealed that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger (Psychological Science 2006). With this in mind, it is important to consider the following things:
Know your role
Taking into account, the industry and the type of role you are going for are great indicators for suitable attire. An interview at your local fish and chip shop may hold slightly lesser wardrobe expectations than a corporate accounting role, for example. Identifying these features of the role will allow you to make a judgement call and put you closer to being dressed for the part appropriately. This decision proves to be a tricky balancing act for some however, bringing us to our next point…
It is better to be over-dressed (than under-dressed)
This classic piece of advice could not be any truer than for a job interview given the assumed professional nature of even casual positions and roles. As an interviewee it is much easier to be visualised more casually dressed, to cater to a less professional role than it is to image how well you can dress if you turn up in Jeans and a T shirt. By setting the bar to a high standard your potential employer can visualise you in such attire if the job did require it. Turning up in a sub-par outfit however instantly creates difficulty as the interviewer is forced to guess whether dressing appropriately is even achievable.
Know who will be interviewing you
It is generally expected that your interviewer is someone in a position of seniority in the organisation; a board member, senior manager or supervisor for example. Respect for their position is important and can be demonstrated well, not only through appropriate dress but through body language also. Positive body language is a significant feature of overall self-presentation and involves maintaining eye-contact, holding an upright and open posture and acknowledging conversation through head nods. As studies have shown non-verbal communication accounts for over 90% of overall communication, showing how important each of these are in contributing to your overall portrayal.
At this point in time, the employer has created an image of you based on the material they have received thus far – be it your cover letter, resume or emailed expression of interest. An important piece of advice is to present yourself as attractively and impressively as the resume you have submitted, keeping in mind that all you have is the 10, 15 or 60min interview window to ‘Wow’ your interviewer. Great self-presentation is a simple first step in landing that job! With your interview outfit now selected a parting note to consider is that one of the best outfits to wear is CONFIDENCE.
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