You only get one shot at a first impression.
You’ve heard the saying ‘dress for the job you want’? Well, there’s something in that when you’re deciding what to wear for an interview, but it’s also important to think about how that job would want you to dress.
In other words: you want your interviewer to picture you doing the job. What you wear needs to show you’re serious about the role but also that you’re a good fit for the company culture. A 3-piece suit is pretty much mandatory for a City job, but wear one to a creative agency and they might mistake you for their accountant.
That said, great tailoring does wonders for your confidence. We surveyed British men and over a third of them said they felt most professional and confident in a tailored suit. It follows, then, that making an effort to dress smartly will impress your interviewer and also give you a boost of confidence when it matters. Win-win.
So, back to the question in hand: what should you wear? Our advice is to tailor your outfit to the kind of company that’s interviewing you. Here’s our take on what to wear for four types of interview: corporate, business professional, business casual and creative.
The first rule of the corporate world? Wear a suit. If you’re interviewing for a role in finance, law or another hierarchal private sector company, you’re going to need to bring out your tailoring A-game.
The expectation will be for you to dress conservatively, so a 3-piece suit is a smart move. Don’t just dig out your old black one though, you should step it up a little if you want to make a memorable impression.
Navy is universally accepted as businesswear as well as universally flattering. You can get away with a subtle pattern, like this navy city stripe suit. It’s a refined take on the classic pinstriped uniform of City boys with traditional details like its ticket pocket but cut in a sharp, skinny fit.
If you’ve plumped for a patterned suit, it’s important you show a bit of restraint with the rest of your outfit. This is not the time or the place for flashy cufflinks. Less is definitely more. A pocket square probably isn’t needed, but if you really want one, stick to plain white.
As for the tie? A striped one is a classic for a reason and will allow a little colour without going overboard. This one’s got a muted red – the colour said to signal power – so a flash of it will sit well if you’re going for a role that’s in line with that trait.
Business professional can be decoded quite simply as ‘suits’. This is the world of 9-5 (and maybe a bit more) and office uniforms that haven’t quite got the business casual memo yet.
So yes, a suit is a safe bet, but you don’t need to be quite as formal as you would in a corporate environment. You’re going to want your interviewer’s attention on you rather than what you wearing, but that’s not to say a little pattern won’t help you stand out.
Check off the best of both worlds with a tonal check. This one’s light, bright check shows you can think outside the box but its navy base colour is still very much traditional businesswear. It’s also made with added stretch, so you’ll look sharp but feel comfortable. And in our books, comfort equals confidence and confidence equals a successful interview.
Keep the rest of your outfit simple so that you don’t look like you’re trying too hard. An open-necked shirt is more relaxed than a buttoned-up shirt-and-tie combo. Plain white looks polished and professional, and the addition of a stretch dials up the comfort factor a little more.
Shoe-wise, a pair of burgundy loafers will set this suit off nicely. Make sure to give them a good buff before you go.
Business casual turns the formal down even more. It’s likely to be the sort of office where tailored trousers and a t-shirt or knit are the norms, but you’ll have to dress more smartly when you’re meeting clients or doing a big presentation.
Here’s where your suit starts to look a little overdressed, but you’ll still be expected to err on the side of formal. The happy medium? A great tailored jacket with smart trousers and a shirt. This bouclé jacket’s textured finish has a more relaxed feel, but its wider lapels and pin-sharp cut give a strong silhouette.
Pair yours with a pair of tailored navy trousers – this pair is made from our tech-packed performance cloth that resists creases and stains, so you’ll arrive looking polished even if you’ve had the journey from hell to get there.
Skip the tie in favour of an open-necked shirt in a textured stretch slub cotton and add a final flourish with a pocket square that subtly picks out the colours in your jacket and polished shoes. The result? Smart – but at ease. Exactly the vibe you’re going for.
Gunning for a gig in a creative agency or tech start-up? Suits are pretty much a no-go here, as your recruiter will be more concerned with how you fit in with the company culture, and that culture is very likely to heavily involve jeans and trainers.
Sadly, jeans aren’t going to cut it for your interview – you’re going to have to up the ante a bit. Chinos are the obvious alternative to jeans – and a stretch pair will feel even better – while a new (bobble-free) jumper will look smart but relaxed. Keep to similar shades on both halves for a polished feel.
Top it off with a tailored jacket in a casual cloth, like this wool-blend jacket. The flashes of rust and blue add interest, and its scratchy texture keeps things very much on the casual end of the spectrum. It’s sharply cut in our skinny fit but also constructed with a lightweight buggy lining, so you’ll stay cool and calm even under questioning.
No creative work look is complete without a pair of trainers, but don’t just throw on any old pair. Give your interview the respect it deserves with this polished pair from Ted Baker. Still trainers, but made from smooth dark tan leather and finished with elegant brogue detailing.
(New) job done.