The interview, the outfit

Collar down. Hair up. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Picking an interview ‘look’ is generally straightforward when going for a job in the big brand corporate world.

Startups and small businesses can be less obvious.

Realising that you’re the over-dressed person in the room can be kind of jarring, and possibly distracting. Rightly or wrongly, your dress sense can alter people’s perception of you. Small businesses in Australia have a maximum of 19 employees, which means that they place a strong emphasis on the cultural and value fit.

Nick, a Director for an Enterprise Solution business, prefers candidates who dress smart casual as opposed to the full blown corporate getup.

“It's a sign that they're trying too hard, and maybe a little nervous. Also, I now judge them on how the suit fits”, he says.

TOMMY WISEAU : artistic genius behind 'The Room' AND WEARER OF Inappropriate SUITS.

TOMMY WISEAU : artistic genius behind 'The Room' AND WEARER OF Inappropriate SUITS.

While not everyone is *that* judgemental (and expectations differ), it can’t hurt to integrate a little wardrobe recon into your overall company research, for instance:

  • Google: Check out the company’s webpage or relevant LinkedIn profiles to see if there are any team photos etc.
  • Consider your industry: Certain industries (i.e. design and media) tend to encourage more personal expression with dressing.
  • Ask: If it’s not obvious, send a quick email to your contact.

And while we’re at it, what exactly does ‘smart casual’ mean? A less-than-helpful contributor to defines it as “nonsensical dress code that people slap onto events, parties, and workplaces.” Below is a rough guide to a more relaxed spin on business wear:

Males: Button up and collared shirts, slacks (jeans can be risky), closed in shoes etc.

Females:  Women generally have more options (e.g. knee length skirts and dresses, non-revealing blouses etc), however, a good rule of thumb is that if you think you can get away with wearing it to another type of event (i.e. a night out) then it should be reconsidered. 

For those of you who are more visual, we've taken the Pinterest route and suggested some outfit combinations, modelled by some ridiculously good looking people from the Internet. 

Image: Tommy Wiseau by Pat Loika / CC BY