Navigating The Interview Dress Code For Graduates

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Being a graduate is a strange event in your life - one, you're trying to write the most important, 10,000 word essay of your life so far. Two, you're probably holding down a part-time job too. But on top of that, you're also having to consider where to go next, with the big wide world open ahead of you. Your degree will only get you so far in nailing that interview, sadly. And as we all know, first impressions are vital. 

Whether you're awash clothing options or realising all your socks have holes in them now, don't worry. This article is your map through the important world of interview outfits, so you'll be sure to make a great impression to a potential employer before you flaunt that hard-earned degree! 

Casual Dress 

If it’s an unpaid internship or charity work, casual dress is fine. For these interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing. 

Casual: Women 

If it's a casual interview, you can get away with skirts or jeans, whichever makes you comfortable. To ensure you still look presentable, you should avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of slacks or jeans. 

Footwear won't be too much of an issue either. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels. 

Casual: Men 

It can be a little more difficult for men to dress casually without looking too relaxed. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but similar to our advice for women, steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these will not give off the best impression. A safe option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket. 

Business Casual Dress 

Check your interview invite to see if it specifies business-casual. This may be because they have this dress code in the office or it may be for an assessment day where you are expected to be there all day and recruiters want you to feel comfortable. 

When in doubt, it's best to go too formal than risk going too casual. 

Business Casual: Women 

You’ve got a little more in the ways of flexibility for business-casual than for full-on professional attire. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in. 

Alternatively, a long-sleeved sweater with a collared shirt is a good option. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket. 

Business Casual: Men 

Business-casual for men calls for a smart shirt. Why not invest in a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased but this is avoided through the non-iron garment. 

Polo shirts and jeans are a no-go here; they're too casual and will give off the wrong impression. 

Professional Dress 

As described, a formal interview with professional dress needs something sharp. These interviews could be in front of directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship. You want to look your best here; your appearance certainly counts, and with the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles. 

Professional Dress: Women 

A suit is a strong choice for women’s professional wear. When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel. 

Professional Dress: Men 

For men, a suit and a sleek men’s dress shirt is the way to go. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style, a slim leg may be best suited for you and your shape. 

Things To Avoid In Any Case 

Comfort is definitely key when it comes to giving your best performance during an interview. However, there are a few things that you should avoid: 

- Too much perfume or aftershave. 
- Too much jewelry or makeup.

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