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Power Suit: What to Wear to Every Stage of the Interview Process Besides Just Business Professional

Vocamotive May 20, 2018

Just got the call that you’ve got an interview for the job of your dreams? Congratulations! Now comes the hard work. You need to throw yourself into the preparation stage if this is the job you really want. As they say, if you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail (or something along those lines). Some of the things to prepare for include researching the company and the role, finding out more aboutthe market and the competitors, and brushing up on your own resume and experience. We would also recommend compiling a list of questions that you want to ask at the end. Now, let’s move on to the fun stuff. What are you going to wear to the interview? We all know first impressions matter. And never more so than when you’re trying to make a good impression in a very limited period of time. If you’re confused about the best interview wear for a business professional such as yourself, check out our complete guide to interview outfits below. Since the job interview process can be lengthy, we’ve broken it down into the different interview stages for you as well:

Stage 1: The Phone Interview

For most professionals, the first step in an interview process usually starts off with a phone
interview with a member of the HR team. These phone interviews are used by employers to narrow down the pool of applicants so they can decide who to invite for a face to face meeting.

What to wear for a phone interview: What you wear for your phone interview entirely depends on
whether it is a Skype or video call, or a purely audio call. Some HR team members prefer to use Skype as they like to see you to get a better sense of your personality. If it is a video call, we would recommend wearing smart-casual clothing. You don’t want to look too formal as you will likely be taking the call from your own home. It would look slightly odd if you were to be dressed in business professional wear.

For men: We would recommend a shirt, perhaps with a smart sweater over it and some pants or
jeans. Even though they are very unlikely to see the lower half of your body, we wouldn’t
recommend wearing shorts just in case!

For women: A nice blouse with a skirt or a smart-casual dress would do the job for a Skype
interview. If your phone interview is an audio call, it may feel extremely tempting to do it in your sweats and pjs. However, we’d recommend against this. Put on some casual but slightly smarter clothing even for an audio phone interview to put yourself in a more formal frame of mind. If you’re in your pjs, your relaxed state of mind may make you come across more informal or casual in your style of speaking or tone of voice.

Stage 2: Face-to- face interview with the hiring manager

The first in-person interview is usually a one on one between the applicant and the primary hiring manager. It often consists of the manager asking questions around your resume and past experience, as well as some competency based questions. They will want to know more about why you want to work for that specific company and what you can bring to the role above all others. Make sure that you’ve prepared yourself for all potential questions and also prepared some questions on the role. Not asking any questions will make it seem as if your interest level in the job is low.

What to wear for the first face-to- face interview: This is your first chance to meet the person who could potentially be your new boss. You need to come across as a put together business professional who is well presented and capable. Your outfit needs to evoke feelings of confidence in them that you will represent their company well.

For men: Depending on the type of company it is, we would recommend either business casual
or a suit at this stage. If the company is more on the formal and corporate side in a sector such
as finance or law, then a well-tailored suit would be the recommended option for a face to face
meeting. If it is a media or advertising company, or anything in a slightly more creative field,
then business casual would be the way to go as a suit would look out of place. This could be a
smarter version of the outfit from the Skype interview, such as a well-ironed shirt with smart
pants and polished shoes.

For women: The same rules apply for women. Depending on the dress code you’ve been given
or your own knowledge of the company, you can scale the levels of formality of your outfit up or
down. For a more formal environment, you could go with a stylish skirt or pant suit. Stick with
more traditional colors such as black or navy at this stage. If it’s a more casual business, a smart
dress with tights would be a suitable option. Don’t wear overly high heels or too much makeup,
as it’s best to come across more neutral and well presented at this stage.

Stage 3: The panel interview

If you’ve gotten to this stage, congratulations are in order again! Many companies will ask business professionals to come in for an interview that consists of a panel of people at this stage. This panel is likely to include the hiring manager again, as well as maybe their boss and another member of the team you would be in if hired. It is also likely that you may be asked to make a presentation at this stage, on a
pre-assigned topic.

What to wear for the panel interview: This is often considered as the most nerve-wracking stage in the interview process by candidates. Having to answer questions from a panel can be intimidating, and you need to be well prepared for any questions on your resume and past experience. Wearing an outfit that makes you feel comfortable and confident is important at this stage. Whether the company you’re interviewing for is formal or not, we’d recommend leaning towards more formal wear at this stage. Our advice would be to go for a business suit to come across looking truly professional and poised.

For men: You don’t want to be feeling insecure about the appearance of your suit when you
have so much else to think about, so pick a suit that you know you feel comfortable and look
good in. Dark and sober colors make a good choice here, and a cotton suit is a better choice
than linen as it’s less likely to crease. Avoid any loud ties or crazy socks so the interviewers can
remain focused on you. And make sure those shoes are nicely polished!

For women: Pick a well-tailored skirt or pant suit depending on what you feel more comfortable
in. As you’re likely to be standing up while presenting, make sure that your heels are of a
sensible height. It would be wise to avoid any bold colors or garish patterns at this stage. Keep
the outfit classic and comfortable so you can focus on the task at hand.

Stage 4: Meeting another member/members of the team

As a final stage, some companies will ask business professionals to have a more informal ‘meeting’ with another member or members of the team they could soon be a part of. This is usually done when they’re sure that they like the candidate from a professional standpoint, and just want to assess a cultural fit. This is also your chance to ask someone who is on your level a little more about the job role and company.

What to wear for the team meeting interview: This is finally the time that you can start to let your
personality show. It is usually an informal meeting with someone who could be at a similar level to you in the company. There are also no formal interview questions to worry about. You can revert back to the type of smart-casual wear that you wore at your Skype interview stage here, but you may want to up the style quotient

For men: A more casual shirt and pants combo could work well here, depending on where the
meeting is to be held. If it’s to be held at the office, then choose a slightly smarter shirt. If it’s a
coffee meeting you can be a little more relaxed.

For women: For this meeting, you just need to come across well-presented but not too formal.
Brighter and bolder colors can work well here, or you could wear your favorite smart-casual
dress that you usually get compliments in!

Hopefully the above guide has taught all you business professionals out there a little more about what to expect from the different stages of a job interview and what you should think about wearing. Obviously, if you’ve been given a specific dress code with your interview invite then you should stick to that! You can also always call up and ask more about the dress code if you’re really unsure. The important thing is to focus on preparing for the interview as the primary reason you’ll be hired is based on your interview responses. Good luck!

Last Updated on March 20, 2018 by Voca_GC