Dressing right for the job interview

As soon as you step through the door, you have a couple of seconds to tell the interviewer something about yourself without saying anything. Dressing well will give you that added confidence you’ll need to pull through.

“Around 25 per cent of an interviewer’s ratings of you are influenced by their perception of what you look like.”

Jennifer Komar, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, explained that several past studies have found a major impact on visual appearance in the interviewing world. Referencing a meta-analysis, Komar emphasized how important it is to dress to impress.

As soon as you step through the door, you have a couple of seconds to tell the interviewer something about yourself without saying anything. Dressing well will give you that added confidence you’ll need to pull through.

Steve Gidman, chief executive officer of Fortress Technology, emphasized that there is no reason you shouldn’t be doing your research to get a handle on what attire is appropriate for a company.

“You should have already researched their website and often there will be a corporate video, take a look at how the people in the video are dressed. You should use that as a guide,” said Gidman.

“Dress at least to this level or better.”

As Gidman explained, when in doubt, it’s a good idea to dress up. Dressing appropriately will portray a sign of respect towards the employer, showing them that you’re serious about getting the job.

“I don’t know of anyone who didn’t get hired because they dressed too smartly,” said Gidman.



Graphic by Fani Hsieh
Graphic by Fani Hsieh

The most appropriate suit colours are blue and grey. Darker shades are more timeless and versatile, and can be worn for a variety of occasions outside of work. However, black suits are best saved for funerals or formal events. One or two buttoned suits are best, as anything over that is dated. Remember not to wear a suit with a shawl tuxedo lapel or one with a darker colour than the rest of the suit.

Having it fit exceptionally well will give you that competitive advantage. Done right, a tailored suit can do wonders — accentuating your body by broadening the shoulders and slimming the waist.

Once you’ve got the fit down, there are a few simple ways of elevating your look. Wear a slim tie bar, making sure the width is less than the tie and is clasped between the third and fourth button of your shirt placket.

Wear round-toed shoes. Lace ups are more conservative than loafers, making them more appropriate. Pleated trousers haven’t been in style for a long time, so opt for flat front trousers and always iron your shirt.

Tying a good tie knot is not only crucial, but easy to learn. Stick to classic knots and remember to always dimple your tie. Keep things proportionate by avoiding skinny ties with big shirt collars, and vice versa. Your tie should land at the middle of your belt.

If you’re applying for a job in an industry that calls for less formal attire, you can go with a more casual look. Swap the suit coat with a cardigan or V-neck sweater. If you’re in the creative industry, your options are open. Exercise your judgment wisely and if you’re unsure, keep it simple.

“Most interviewers will be a decade or more older than you. Keep that in mind and talk to people in older groups to get their recommendations,” suggested Gidman.


Graphic by Fani Hsieh
Graphic by Fani Hsieh

Women commonly have a wider variety of clothing and accessories to pick from, often with fewer restrictions when it comes to accessories and patterns. However, it’s always safe to be dressed up rather than down. Most women don’t own a full suit, but a blazer with a pencil skirt is equally appropriate as formal attire.

You want to avoid wearing all black and opt for a dark navy or charcoal grey. Since a black pencil skirt or blazer is an item in many wardrobes, you can mix and match colours by wearing a grey blazer with a black skirt, or vice versa. Make sure you’re comfortable in your clothing. If you have to constantly adjust something, it’s best not to wear it.

Be traditional with your fit by avoiding tops with a low neck line and wear a skirt that lands at the knee or just above it. A white collared shirt or blouse are good examples. It’s also recommended to wear black pantyhose if you’re wearing a skirt as it’s more conservative and professional.

Put on a classic pair of almond toe pumps that are no longer than four inches and avoid platform heels, wedges or stilettos. Open-toed shoes are to be avoided in an interview, and in most conservative work settings in general.

For a less formal interview, you can dress down by ditching the blazer or wearing a V-neck jumper with the same skirt. A slim pair of slacks is also a suitable alternative and easily integrates into most outfits. Add some personality with a thin belt or some jewelry.

Ben Shi, club president of Laurier Focus and the Laurier Dragon Boat team spoke about some suggestions for students during interviews.

“Earrings and necklaces are acceptable, but it’s best to keep it simple, so nothing too flashy or bulky,” Shi suggested.

A small ring, thin necklace, single bracelet, dress watch or stud earrings are all good options. Try not to over accessorize. No more than three items is a good number.

Patterns and Colours

Graphic by Zach Guitor
Graphic by Zach Guitor

Wear darker shades that complement each other, but don’t wear more than three different colours at a time. Keep colours simple — darker shades are ideal for an interview. Shades of burgundy, brown and dark shades of green are accent colours that pair well with a grey or navy blazer. However, only wear these colours on items like your tie or purse, not your shirt.

“One of my biggest peeves is when guys wear white socks with dress clothes,” said Shi.

Your socks should preferably be the same shade as your trousers, however it’s easy to add some personality with colour and pattern. Match the sock with the tie or suit so you don’t go over the three colour rule, and stick to subtle patterns like stripes or polka dots. As Da Vinci said, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

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