Dressing to Impress (Literally!)

From the late Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, they’ve disrupted the industry in more ways than one, down to the clothes they wear. Jobs made black turtlenecks seem avant-garde while Zuckerberg brought the advent of the “entrepreneur hoodie.” But these entrepreneurs have a very valid reason for donning their “uniform” of success – running is a multi-million dollar company is not easy, and to simplify their morning routines, the last thing they want to think about is “What to wear?”

However, this does not mean that anyone can now take liberties with their choice of clothes, especially for an interview. Attire is an important component in the interviewing process as it is an extension of self, helps create a favourable first impression and speaks volumes to recruiters in terms of suitability at first glance.

The Psychology of Image

While enlightened society still extolls “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” this rule simply does not apply when hiring. In general (beyond just recruiters), people size you up within the first 7 seconds of meeting you based on your posture, handshake and your dressing – from the choice of clothing item, down to the colours worn.

So it is imperative to ensure that your dressing sends the right messages across.

What to look out for:

By now, it is safe to say that office wear is essentially the safest bet to dressing for an interview.

For the ladies, that means:

● A simple dress that isn’t short or tight, or in too loud a colour or print

● A blouse or shirt that is not low cut, paired with dress pants or a skirt of appropriate length (no shorter than an inch above the knees)

● Comfortable heels – opt for kitten or a stacked heel, as opposed to stilettos

For men:

● Business shirt and pants.

● Depending on the industry, a suit may be in order. If not, a well pressed tailored shirt, tie and pants are fine.

● Avoid loud prints and colours as well.

For Video Interviewing:

● No checks / patterns

● Look in a mirror – check hair/ teeth/ complexion

Stay away from clothes that are too fitted, too short, too baggy or too revealing. If you’re unsure of a clothing item,then don’t wear it. The safest bet is your best bet. But aside from the basics, there are other details that many miss out on. Before your interview, here’s a quick checklist:

1. Look out for wrinkles and missing buttons. Details like these ruin your image by making you look sloppy.

2. Pay attention to your nails. Everyone looks at hands, especially as you go in for a firm handshake, so keep your nails clean and trimmed. For ladies, ensure that your manicure or nail polish is not chipped.

3. Watch the shoes and accessories. Ensure that your shoes are not scuffed or dirty. Do not over accessorise as it can be distracting during an interview.

While you wish to leave a memorable impression, careful consideration should made as you don’t wish to be memorable for the wrong reasons. Remember that attire is an extension of oneself; aside from speaking well and being articulate, dressing is also a very important part of the interview process as it is especially apparent when you first walk through the door. Take extra care in what you wear and you just might be able to “clothes” the deal at your interview.

“Good clothes open all doors” – Thomas Fuller

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