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Interview dress guide

What you wear to an interview is very important because the way you present yourself speaks volumes about your personality and whether or not you're a good fit for the company.

The outfit you chose to wear will depend on how large the company is and its industry. First of all, figure out what employees usually wear to work at the company you're interviewing at. Secondly, plan an outfit that is one level smarter than that.

Always dress smarter for an interview than employees of that company would day-to-day.

At TalentPool, we've identified five levels of workwear formality: Formal, Smart, Informal, Relaxed and Chilled. So, if a company you are working for usually dresses "smart", for an interview you should wear "formal". If a company usually wears "chilled" for work though, we do recommend dressing two notches smarter in this instance and going in for interview dressed "informal". If in doubt it's safer to overdress for an interview.

To help you out and give you a sense of what constitues as appropriate attire for a particular work place, we've prepared two tables: one to show what the typical dress code is for certain companies and one to give examples of companies that fall under certain categories:

Number of employees
0-10 10-15 20-50 50-100 100-150 150+
Tech Chilled Chilled Chilled Relaxed Relaxed Relaxed
Create, Comms & Media Chilled Chilled Relaxed Relaxed Informal Smart
Consumer Goods & Services Chilled Relaxed Relaxed Relaxed Informal Informal
Industrial & Engineering Chilled Relaxed Relaxed Relaxed Informal Informal
Business Services Chilled Relaxed Relaxed Relaxed Informal Informal
Professional Services Relaxed Informal Informal Smart Formal Formal
Finance & Legal Informal Smart Smart Formal Formal Formal

Chilled

  • Men - jeans and t-shirt.
  • Women - shorts, t-shirt, skirt, dress...anything goes!

Relaxed

  • Men - collared shirt and jeans/similar.
  • Women - jeans with a shirt or blouse.

Informal

  • Men - non-suit jacket and trousers.
  • Women - knee-length skirt or tailored trousers with a smart top.

Smart

  • Men - suit without a tie.
  • Women - knee-length skirt or tailored trousers with a formal blouse/shirt and jacket.

Formal

  • Men - suit & tie.
  • Women - trouser/ skirt suit or formal dress.

There are lots of places that you can find appropriate interview wear, often you'll find that shops have a special section dedicated to office wear - our trusty TalentPool favourites include:

For women

£ Next, H&M, M&S, John Lewis
££ Zara, COS, MANGO
£££ REISS, French Connection, Calvin Klein

For men

£ M&S, H&M, Hawes & Curtis*
££ T.M. Lewin, Charles Tyrwhitt
£££ SuitSupply

*Their Wood Green outlet store is particularly good for shirts!

You can also check out our Pinterest interview style boards to give you some visual inspiration on what to wear.

Remember to think about other elements that contribute to your appearance too, e.g. tattoos, hairstyle, facial hair, piercings. Whether it's fair or not, employers will form a judgement based on what you look like. Generally it's advised to cover any tattoos, remove a few piercings, keep your hairstyle neat and be clean shaven. You don't have to agree or comply to these rules if you don't want to but remember, it's all about getting your foot in the door at this stage. Once you're in the company you can let your hair down a little and start to show your own style more. Until then it's usually better to tone down your overall appearance - this will generally work in your favour. It's your decision though so it's up to you to decide what you're comfortable with!

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