What’s a Grad to Wear?

You’ve got the interview but what will you wear? Most of the people we know that are entry level graduates have great wardrobes for going to uni or a night out but when it comes to interviews…..the wardrobe is understandably bare!

So what’s a good course of action?

First Impressions Count

You may prefer they didn’t but they do. Individuality is great however the reality is that for an interview conservative and safe is still the way to go. Think understated and you won’t go far wrong.

In general, a good rule of thumb is that if it would look better on the beach, a big night out or at Splendour in the Grass, then it isn’t right for an interview.

But a whole new outfit can be expensive

Your interview outfit is a big investment in your future so you may just need to invest some money into it.

Look in your wardrobe, is there anything there that is suitable? No, don’t pull out something that will ‘just do’. It has to be right. If there is something suitable there check it out and make sure it’s in presentable condition. If it isn’t clean and tidy make a trip to the dry cleaners, get the washing machine going and make friends with the iron.

Borrow or Recycle! Have you a friend who may be able to lend, or even donate, something that might work well for you? Talk to friends and siblings and find out.

Is your birthday or Christmas coming up? Could you ask for money instead of presents to go towards your interview outfit?

Part-time or temporary work. If you don’t have a job then look for one and save some money for your outfit.

The role of parents (or other appropriate adult!)

These guys have watched over you all your life and there is nothing more they want than for you to be successful. They’ve helped you transition through all the various stages of your life and generally, the transition from uni to your first job is no different. Talk to them and get their advice.

And yes, we know, you haven’t shopped with your mum (or other appropriate adult) since you were little but this is a time when their advice can be really useful. If you need to buy new stuff, consider taking them shopping with you. You never know, you might just enjoy it!

The nitty gritty of what to wear

Suits, or similar, are never out of fashion in most corporate environments. A suit in a dark colour is a classic for everyone, male and female.

It may be hot outside but more likely than not the offices where you will be interview will be air conditioned. This is where a jacket comes in really useful. It gives the flexibility to adapt to the temperature and environment.

Whatever you choose jacket, trousers, skirt, shirt, top…..they should all fit well. Avoid anything that is too tight or too baggy.

Shoes should be smart and clean. High heels are not necessary. Wear them if you want to but make sure you can walk, confidently and quickly, in them. Remember you will be met at reception and then will be taken to an office somewhere in the building. You need to be able to walk in your shoes and keep up!

Colours are best kept reasonably muted with no ‘in your face’ patterns. You want the interviewer to focus on you, not be distracted by the amazingly intricate pattern on your shirt.

And what to avoid

Ok, let’s get it out of the way.

Nothing too short, nothing too low! Yes, there are lots of various opinions but the reality is that people don’t want to be distracted by anything irrelevant during an interview. So keep hemlines reasonable and keep necklines on the conservative side. It really isn’t a time to flash the flesh.

If you are wearing a skirt or dress check what happens to it when you sit down. If you are in the habit of crossing your legs, check where your dress or skirt ends up. A flash of underwear is not what your interviewer wants to see.

No jeans, trainers or tee shirts. No stubble, no greasy hair, no chipped nail polish, no dirty fingernails.

What about casual wear at interview?

Some companies encourage casual wear and that’s ok if they do but check first. We find they usually still appreciate if you to come dressed in smart formal, even if that’s only for the first interview. After that they’re more relaxed. If in doubt, be smart and go smart.

What about Tattoos?

If you have a tattoo it’s now part of your body so it isn’t about clothing. Yes, I guess it could fall under how to dress so my best advice is to use your own judgement and deal with it using similar guidelines that you follow for clothes. Be reasonable and sensible and bear in mind the type of organisation or role you are applying for. This is a personal thing that is now part of your body. You decide how best to deal with it.