Traditional business attire is no longer the norm in many workplaces … but is it still at interview? We ask our consultants for their advice in dressing to impress.

Banking and finance is an area you immediately associate with formality, and unsurprisingly, casual clothing won’t normally wash at interviews, according to Barbara Donnellan who heads up the division at Eden. “A suit is expected for men, and for women either a suit or dress with formal suit jacket. When selecting suits, the preference is for plain colours – black or navy. The less pattern design on clothes the better. Remember less is more when it comes to jewellery – keep an eye on number of rings.”

No scope to stand out from the crowd if you’re in finance, then? “It depends on the individual.  I would recommend if someone loves clothes, don’t restrict your passion by being too safe either.  Bright colours and patterns can look powerful and very distinguished. Sometimes being brave with your choice of clothing can give off a confident and daring impression which can suit some roles. Individuality is needed more in organisations – companies like to see one’s personality and the dress sense can be a good way of revealing this at interview.”

“Wear something that shows you’ve made an effort and have respect for the interviewer.” That’s the advice of Daniel Michalewicz, who looks after Multilingual and Customer Service area at Eden. “If a suit makes you feel uncomfortable and the company promotes casual dress code then don’t wear a suit. Expectations vary across the spectrum of call centres out there, from banking on one end (formal) to gaming on the other (smart casual). We do encourage candidates to reveal some of their personality in what they wear.”

Anna Douglas is Sales & Marketing Division Manager.  “It really depends on the culture of the company you are going to – dress smart as you want to make an impression. First impressions count and dress is a large part of this. For anyone going to the likes of Google, Facebook etc I tell them to ‘dress smart but not like you are going to see your bank manager or to a funeral’ – i.e. ditch the full suit.”

What about grooming tips? “For men, – a clean shaven look is preferable but again for “funkier” organisations you can get away with a slightly more unshaven look as long as it doesn’t look not like you couldn’t be bothered! For women, hair, nails etc need to all be done no matter what the company. And unless you are going to work for a beauty company, your make-up shouldn’t be too loud or too bright. No matching your lipstick to your nail varnish!

“Limit the amount of perfume or aftershave you wear – scents are a very personal thing. And if you do a bad interview, nobody wants to be reminded by the wave of scent you’ve left behind!”

In the retail sector, which Peter Kelly heads up, formal attire is always recommended, irrespective of the role involved. “Dressing up for interview, and being suitably groomed, shows you are serious about the job at hand. It’s a basic. You don’t want to lose points for something as simple as what you are wearing. Additionally, many roles in retail are customer-facing so appearance counts. For men, I suggest a dark (not black) suit.” Peter subscribes to grandma’s old adage that you can tell a man by his shoes: “Do pay attention to footwear, as this is often the weakest link in the clothing armoury!”

Surely Tech is the one area where we can immediately dispense with the tie at interview? Not according to Peter Gilhooly, a senior recruiter on the IT team. “It may be that the companies dress code is casual, but unless told otherwise people should dress formally for interview. An exception is where someone is going directly to an interview from a workplace where dress code is casual, where it’s not practical to change into a suit. In that case we always suggest letting us or the client know that they will be attending in casual / smart casual dress. Clients appreciate this.” Barbara agrees that this applies equally to her area but warns “casual dress code in these circumstances is always slacks and never jeans for men!”

Message from our office vox pop to potential jobseekers – don’t throw out those suits just yet!