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What to wear to an interview in 2021

Careers Advice from CV-Library

You’ve secured an interview – congratulations! That means all the hard work it took to craft your CV, cover letter and job applications has paid off. But don’t stop now!  

As well as preparing for the conversational part of the interview, it’s also important that you think about what you’re going to wear. It may seem trivial, but first impressions are often based on what we look like, even if the interview is virtual!  

To help you choose the best outfit possible, we’ve put together a short guide on what to wear.

Plan ahead of time

It’s important to allow yourself plenty of time to choose your outfit in advance. Firstly, planning your outfit enables you to deal with any wardrobe mishaps. There’s nothing worse than throwing something on in the morning of your interview to find that it doesn’t fit or that there’s a button or two missing.

Secondly, outfit preparation lets you relax on the day of your interview. You don’t want to be rushing as your haste is likely to follow through to your interview, and recruiters will be able to sense it. But if you plan ahead, you’ll be able to don your outfit at a relaxed pace and go over your interview preparation notes one last time.

Look into the company

When deciding what to wear to an interview this year, it’s important to consider the company in question. Many offices and corporate environments operate in traditional business attire, in which case you should go for a conservative look; think tailoring, suits, shirts, ties, dresses, blazers and leather shoes.

If for example the company interviewing you is more creative or a start-up IT company with a casual edge, you can opt for something a little more smart-casual.

If you’re genuinely not sure what to wear to your interview, simply call the employer or recruiter to ask. Your proactive nature is sure to win your brownie points.

Err on the side of caution

If you’re not sure what to wear for your interview this year, it’s better to play it safe as it takes seconds to make an impression. If you turn up to your interview slightly overdressed, you’ll be fine; the interviewer will see you’ve made an effort and are keen to create a positive impression. But if you arrive underdressed, you’ll come across as uncaring, badly prepared, and you may well cost yourself the job.

In customer-facing roles, such as a banking job, your presentation will need to be immaculate as you represent the company. So it would be unwise to turn up to an interview underdressed!

Be comfortable in your outfit

We’ve all seen the debates about heels in the workplace.  Don’t feel you have to wear heels to look the part, but if you do opt for a bit of height, make sure you can walk in your shoes comfortably. You don’t want to be distracted by the fact that you could topple at any moment, nor do you want to genuinely faceplant the lobby floor.

Obviously, if you’re doing your interview over the phone or via video chat thanks to COVID-19, then your choice of footwear isn’t as important. However, comfort also applies to your outfit. Your interviewer will be able to tell if you’re uncomfortable in your clothes. Try on your entire ensemble before D day to not only make sure that it fits but also to ensure you feel confident in it.

If you feel a little nervous, the ‘fake it until you make it’ tactic does work. Just as putting on a smile and adjusting your body language can improve your mood, dressing up sharply can help you to feel more confident even if the thought of an interview makes you feel like a nervous wreck.

Tone down the colours, jewellery and makeup

An understated look is always the best approach when it comes to a job interview in 2021 so that your appearance doesn’t distract from what you have to say. The last thing you want is to drown out your question responses with the clonking of your bracelets on the table.

When considering your jewellery, less is more as you simply want your accessories to complement your outfit. Also, make sure the jewellery you’re wearing is of decent quality. The last thing you want is the interviewer to notice a green smudge spreading underneath the ring on your finger. It may raise questions about how well you’ll look after your tasks, duties or clients in the role.

A conservative look is best when considering your makeup choices; keep your look subtle and sophisticated.

Also, opt for clothes and shoes that are plain and muted in colour, such as grey, blue, black, brown and white. This will help convey your confidence and professionalism.

Make sure you’re well-groomed

You might have the best outfit in the world, but it won’t do you much good if you aren’t well-groomed.

Make sure your hair is neat and tidy, and that facial hair is trimmed or clean-shaven. Your clothes should be well-ironed with no creases or crumples too.

Try not to go overboard on perfume or aftershave; it can be overpowering, especially in a confined interview room and may result in headaches all around. You don’t want the first – or, indeed, the last – thing they remember to be your strong smell.

What to wear to an interview

Deciding what to wear to an interview can be tricky, especially if you’re not used to donning the corporate look. However, providing you research the company and dress for professionalism and comfort, you’ll be well on your way to finding interview success in 2021.

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