Written by: Fiona Denton
Dressing for an interview is harder than ever for a working mum: The power suits of the 80s are gone, but do you go the other way and look like a total pushover? Are you still even meant to look like a woman, or is it jumpers and trousers all round? Fashions and fads come and go, but some ideas never seem to go amiss with potential bosses:
Play it safe
The very first rule of dressing for a job interview is…avoid fanfare. You cannot go wrong by being conventional and boring. Unless you’re going for the job of a circus clown, you want to be remembered for your performance and personality, not your short skirt/green hair/exotic piercings/Bugs Bunny tie. Once you secure the job, you can dress in whatever way your employer approves of, but it’s best to play it safe in the initial series of interviews. Also, looking smart is a huge boost to your confidence, and this will shine through in your interview.
A hefty 37% of management have decided against hiring a candidate, simply down to the way they dressed, and traditional formal interview attire is most likely to impress. According to 95% of management, orange is the worst-possible colour to wear for your interview, with 84% giving the black mark to red, and 83% turning their nose up at pink.
Keep it clean
Dirty marks and stains turn off 59% of executives, so whisk your suit to the dry cleaners beforehand to remove all traces of baby food, and certainly don’t eat an egg sandwich on the way to the interview.
The best corporate colours to wear are navy and black. Wear a modern suit, or dress and jacket. Make sure the suit fits well – for the ladies, black boot-cut suits most body types. Dress thing up with a bright shirt, and smart scarf. Never underestimate the power of a plain white shirt, either. Starched cotton is always a winner, and floaty silk is super feminine and works well with a sharp pencil skirt.
Suited and booted
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a Savile Row suit, either. You can buy a decent two-piece from Marks and Spencer’s from around £60 – they look smart, but check the label, because the cheaper the suit, the more specialist the care instructions. I’m a fan of the machine-washable range, which starts from about £100 – a trip to the dry cleaners, to wash a mound of cheap suits every couple of weeks gets expensive and tiring. Tempted to go budget? A cheap suit can be a false economy – I’ve had suits from Tesco, Matalan, and Primark, and they went out of shape faster than the Mother in Law at Christmas.
Steer away from the high heels – keep them elegant, as opposed to tottering. Short skirts are a big no-no, and don’t wear too much jewellery. Keep your make up soft and fresh, unless you’re going for the circus clown position, and only then can you can go heavy on the garish eyes and lipstick.
Scrub up well
The day before the interview, it’s time to brush up on your personal grooming as well – you don’t need to book time in the beauty parlour, but at the same time, you don’t want to turn up looking like you’ve spent the night sleeping on a bench in the park. So, make sure your hair is cut, and styled nicely – not too heavy on the product, and certainly no wacky styles.
Dirty nails and terrifying talons are a big no-no – keep nails short and neat, and scrub them before the interview. You may also want to remember that a good handshake lasts three seconds – make it firm but not vice-like, and no unusual gripping techniques either, unless you’re interviewing for Head Mason.
In summary, keep it sharp, keep it stylish, keep it simple, and you’re bound to impress. All the best for your big job interview – It’s time to get dressed for success!