Making a good impression at an interview starts the minute you enter the building.
Your interviewer is likely to judge you from the first moment they see you and your appearance and image will be the first reflection of who you are and what kind of employee you may be. You may think that making a fashion statement is a sign of creativity, but it's vital that you're not remembered for all the wrong reasons. Not only can it be off-putting, but outlandish or scruffy clothing can be distracting as well.
Here are some basic guidelines to consider when dressing for an interview, so that you don't end up dressing to un-impress.
It goes without saying that you should dress smartly, but with the range of suits, tailoring and chic shift dresses on offer, you need to make sure you find the right one for your shape and individual style. Ensure that yours is well-fitting, without looking too loose – it should be easily buttoned without any tug marks across the fabric. Ensure that there are no worn patches and that your suit is clean, well-pressed and free from hairs or dust – small marks or dirt will make you look scruffy and can be distracting to your interviewer.
Stick to darker shades – generally navy blue, black or dark grey. If you prefer to go for prints, keep them subtle, as bold patterns can look over-adventurous and distracting. A conservative suit or dress is the safest option and will ensure your interviewer judges you for who you are rather than what you're wearing.
If you're dressed up in a smart suit or shift dress, there's no point in carrying a scruffy or mis-matching bag. A leather satchel or tote bag looks smart in black, grey or brown, and won't compromise on style. Make sure it's big enough for your umbrella, extra layers and your portfolio/CV if needed – you don't want to turn up looking and feeling flustered.
A great pair of heels may give you an extra confidence boost, but make sure they're comfy and not too high – you don't want sore feet distracting you. Try a chic pair of mid heels in black, make sure they're clean you're good to go.
Try to ensure that you reach your interview with plenty of time to pop to the bathroom and check yourself in the mirror first. A sweaty bus journey may leave you hot and bothered, so it's worth allowing cool down time so that you don't need to worry about your appearance. Make sure your hair is clean and styled subtly. Nails should be chip-free and well-trimmed.
Be cautious with strong perfume. You don't want to overpower your interviewer with strong scents, especially if the interview room is quite small.
When preparing for an interview, plan your outfit several days ahead, and make sure you have everything you need well in advance. Always maintain an awareness of what kind of industry you are interviewing within, as some industries are far more lenient than others and may not be concerned with a slight show of creativity in your dress – a good tip is to dress as you would if you had that role already. Remember, it is always better to be overdressed, showing that you are keen to impress, than be underdressed and risk looking slovenly or indifferent.
The M&S Graduate Scheme offers candidates classroom training alongside real life work (including placement in several different areas of the business), and a fast-track route into senior-level management. For more information on the scheme and to apply, see here:
Marks & Spencer has several ranges of interview-friendly suits, tailored jackets and dresses.
To find your perfect style and for more information, take a look at our full range of Marks & Spencer women's suits and tailoring.