You did the hard part. You suffered the long years of school homework followed by the harsh lessons of university lectures and path choosing to finally land a plum interview with the company you’ve always dreamed of. This should be the easy part, plain sailing, a doddle as they say. All you need to do is speak from the heart, show your enthusiasm, hunger, drive and it’s yours, the whole nine yards. So you start to tick off the boxes and you consider the impression that you want to make and this is where you falter. What should you wear? Should you wear that suit that your mum bought you last year for your cousin’s wedding? Should you go “smart casual” in line with the company outlook (you were sure you read an article that said the founder only ever wore trainers and jeans except on public holiday when he wore flip-flops), should you just be yourself?
Let me just dish out my first life lesson right now. First impressions count. Human beings make decisions based on what they see with their eyes first and foremost. Whether those decisions mean flight or fight reactions, the attractiveness of a prospective mate or the likeability of a potential new employee we are all driven by both conscious and unconscious biases that shape our decision making. In the context we are currently considering, when faced with 3 equally qualified, intelligent candidates the likelihood is the one that has made the effort to dress well is most likely to be successful. I understand that there are nuances and that some industry sectors are open to different dresscodes but in my informed opinion nobody ever got turned down for a serious role for being too smart.
This leads me nicely to the appropriate interview attire. Interviews are to be considered somber affairs. There is no need for peacocking, this is not an opportunity for you to be waving a big sign shouting “look at me!” Stick to the sensible, well fitting suit or separates (differing colour jacket/trousers combo) with a tie being optional. Navy blue, black, grey are all acceptable colours. Shirt should be ironed, buttoned all the way up with a tie, only top button undone if no tie. White, sky blue, light pink should work with the suit combinations. For me, chestnut or tan brown shoes should be avoided. Clean, black shoes should work with any combination of these shirt/suit combos. If you choose to accessorise with tie or pocket square please choose reasonable options. Gimmick ties should never see the light of day. Polka dots or diagonal stripes are acceptable. This is not and never will be Wolf of Wolfstreet territory.
This grounding should enable you to build a picture of your professionalism and outlook within your interviewers mind. All that’s left to do now is for you to ensure that you fully prepared for the interview and that you don’t forget your lucky pants.