James and Brian were attending an interview for a Restaurant Supervisor position at a top restaurant in Nairobi.
James decided to wear a suit he borrowed from a friend because he wanted to impress; the only problem was it was big. That’s not all; he wasn’t able to iron it so the shirt and coat were creased.
Brian, on the other hand, chose to wear a shirt and trousers he has owned for a few months, even though the clothes weren’t exactly fancy, they were clean and he looked neat.
James was just as qualified as Brian was for the position. But when it came down to choosing who to hire, the company chose Brian because he was more presentable.
An interviewer can decide whether you get the job or not based on their first impression of you. Sadly many people get locked out of opportunities because they failed to make a good first impression.
For James, it was his dressing that let him down, even though he was qualified for the position, the interviewer had already made up his mind even before asking him any questions.
Tips on how to dress for an interview
1. What you wear depends on your profession
Gone are the days when you could only wear a suit to an interview. Nowadays, different companies are embracing a more casual approach, especially for creative professions.
A good example is someone interviewing for a graphics designer position at an advertising firm will not dress the same as someone interviewing for an accountant position at an auditing firm.
It’s expected that as a creative their clothes should reflect their profession. I know of a situation where an interviewer disqualified candidates who were interviewing for a creative position for coming dressed in a suit and was more impressed by those who came dressed in smart casual clothing.
Not every situation is the same and various companies have different policies. you need to look at the company, industry, and position you are applying for before choosing what to wear.
To be on the safe side, you can choose to go with a smart casual look if you are unsure of whether dressing informally is appropriate.
2. Do not wear anything new
You might feel like you need to wear that new dress you got so as to look good for your interview but you shouldn’t.
The trick to passing any interview is to be confident, it doesn’t matter how qualified you are if you cannot present yourself confidently you won’t be chosen for the position.
There is no way you will be confident in something that you have never worn before so stick to clothes and even shoes that you have already worn.
3. Wear clothes that fit
Being presentable means wearing clothes that are the right size. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the clothes are if they don’t fit you will look bad.
Do not wear anything that is either big or small, this will only serve to make you uncomfortable which will then hurt your confidence during the interview.
4. Ensure your clothes are neat
No one will hire you if they think you are a disorganized person. This means that whatever you wear to the interview should be clean and well ironed. Showing up in a wrinkled shirt or dress will make you look careless and could hurt your chances of getting the job.
5. Don’t overdo anything
When it comes to interviews, less is more; meaning you should avoid bright screaming colors, a lot of makeup, too much jewelry and strong fragrances.
Some people are allergic to strong scents and you don’t want to put off the interviewer by giving them a headache.
“One time, I interviewed this gentleman who wore so much cologne I was nauseous by the time the interview came to a close,” says Ms. Ida, a recruitment manager at Corporate Staffing Services.
Remember that you don’t want the interviewer to concentrate on anything other than what you are saying so keep whatever accessories you wear to a minimum.
Your dressing alone will not get you the job, but it can help boost your appeal.
Think of it this way, who would you hire, someone who didn’t bother to be presentable or someone who made an effort to look good for the interview?
This is not to say that you have to spend a lot of money on the latest designer clothes in order to be considered presentable, You’ll still need to work on your interviewing skills in order to pass an interview. You can even wear that dress or shirt you have had for over a year, as long as you are neat and clean you will make a good impression.