19 Jul 2017

What not to wear...

With the recent good weather, it has been tricky to get interview apparel right.  One doesn't want to arrive at an interview with sweaty armpits or perspiring gently on your forehead.  However, one candidate got it very wrong by arriving for an interview in her flip flops.  I've reviewed this with several recruitment colleagues and it's surprising how many companies have a (unofficial) 'no toes' rule for interviews.

It is made trickier in the advertising sector.  In many of my agency clients in Manchester and Leeds, dressing down is the norm.  This is a creative sector and individuals do use their personal style as an opportunity to demonstrate that creativity.  Once you've got the job, that's absolutely fine.  In fact, when I visit agencies, there are usually a few people in sandals and shorts, very rarely do I see suits.  However, it's important to treat interviews with respect and to acknowledge that even in the most creative agencies, it's important to understand the etiquette for what not to wear.  

Surely it's common sense?  I generally advise candidates when I am confirming their interview, what they should aim for.  Mostly, it's 'smart casual'.  If I'm unsure, I'll call the client to confirm what they expect.  Seldom will you be judged for being too smart (you can always say you were interviewing somewhere more formal earlier in the day).  However, if you get it wrong, that's not going to give you any extra points.  Most agencies will be happy for smart casual to be the format as the tendency is only to wear suits for pitches and very important clients.  Make sure you double check if it's an in-house client employer though. Often, if you're being interviewed by HR, they are especially conscious of interview attire so you may need to up the ante a little.  I don't deal with many companies these days who expect a tie but again, double check.  

General rules of thumb:

No open toes
No jeans (and it makes no difference if they are 'designer'
Nothing with rips in (it has been done)
Tuck your shirt in (seems obvious)
Don't wear your sunglasses on your head (immediate judgement - and not positive)
No tattoos or irregular piercings on display
Cleavage. Less is more.
No 'too short' skirts
Nothing leather
No pants on display
Nothing 'spray on' (seriously)
Give yourself a good sniff before you go in. Poor personal hygiene is something else that clients don't react well to.

Remember, polished is good and shows that you respect both yourself and the potential employer who you are meeting.  Any level of slovenliness will imply that you are similar in other areas of your life and behaviour.  Don't let something so simple as personal presentation let you down. Good luck!