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What to wear to a graduate job interview

James Davis

Careers Commentator
It can be difficult gauging what the dress code for a job interview is. Luckily, we’re here to help.

They say clothes maketh the man, but they also maketh the woman. Fortunately, they don’t impart any speech impediments as the saying might suggest unless worn incorrectly. The real question is what on earth is expected of you? There are many jobs and many more articles of clothing to choose from, so in this article on clothing, we’ll review various clothing articles.

The most important consideration is the corporate culture. It’s hard to know exactly what this entails on the outside, but there are some educated guesses you can make. If you’re applying at an enormous bank, for instance, there are some safe bets. If you’re a man, suit and tie can’t fail you. Get some shoes that match the colour of your belt and watch and wear navy blue/ black jacket and pants. The other colours are known traitors to the state, so use at your own risk. For women, the job’s a little harder. You’ve got many viable options, but ‘neat and professional’ is the name of the game. This can mean blouse with modest neckline and blazer, dress pants, button-up shirt, the whole box of dice. Your call. Go with limited jewellery for this environment. Like the guys, you’re also looking for muted colours. Grey, navy blue, black or white. In short, both guys and gals are looking for formality. This style works well not only for big banks, but internship interviews, competitions, moot court and similar events.

Let’s go from an enormous bank to a healthy BMI business. They’ve been established for eight years, adorn their offices with hanging plants and there are bean bags for some reason. In this case, the height of formality can actually work against you, but you still want to come across as professional. ‘Business casual’ is what you’re after. Men can wear a blazer with a button-up shirt, no tie with the top button undone. For women, the dress code is best described as ‘free jazz’. The above options are still great, but your colour palette doesn’t need to be as restricted. For both men and women, you still want to avoid a few things despite the more laidback nature of this particular environment. Shorts, runners, t-shirts, jeans, short skirts or recent clothing trends/ personal style choices are dangerous picks. Err on the side of modesty in all cases. A small flourish in the form of some jewellery or accessories is more acceptable here, but don’t overdo it. On a scale of zero to ‘Soundcloud rapper’, you’re looking for ‘street magician’.

No matter the environment, there are some other constants you want to observe. Many employers might unfairly judge you for piercings and tattoos you may have, so try your best to mitigate that. Tattoos you can cover up, but piercings you should take out for safety’s sake.

Another important deciding factor is your industry of choice. If you’re an aspiring investment banker or fund manager, you’ll want to be as professional and clean-cut as possible in more cases. If you’re an aspiring academic, the latter style will serve you perfectly well. Further still, if you’re an art student looking for a remote graphic design job, it’s quite possible you could discard all these tips altogether. The point is: do whatever research you can on your industry and common dress codes. Even just pictures capturing your company of interest’s office, or the offices of similar companies, are invaluable for establishing norms.

You should now have a much better understanding of what to wear to an interview and how to determine which style is appropriate. As a general rule of thumb, stick with neatness and modesty and you can’t go too far wrong. Good luck!