It can be hard when you decide to make a career change. Especially when you have to juggle interviews and presentations around a current job. Applying for a CEO position is even more pressure. And then, when you do get invited for an interview, they’re often short notice and soon come around — leaving you with little time to decide what to wear. However, dressing for a CEO interview is not much different form any other interview, as any person interviewing will have similar expectancies.
Been invited for a casual interview?
If you’ve applied for a position at a charity or for unpaid experience, you can expect a casual interview. For these interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing.
For one of these interviews, its often acceptable to dress simply how you would outside of work. To ensure you still look presentable, you should avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of slacks or jeans.
You can expect the questions to be relaxed and chatty. Don’t worry too much about what’s on your feet. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels.
If you want to go casual, make sure you don’t go overly informal. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but similar to our advice for women, steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these will not give off the best impression. A safe option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket.
Been invited to a business casual interview?
For the majority of interviews, it’s likely that your request will state a business casual dress code. This may be because they have this dress code in the office or it may be for an assessment day where you are expected to be there all day and recruiters want you to feel comfortable. If you are unsure what to wear, it’s best to dress too formally rather than too casually to avoid giving off the wrong impression.
Don’t go overly formal for a business casual interview, you can still show off your sense of style. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in.
In the colder months, opt for a smart shirt with a wide collar under a jumper. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket.
A shirt is definitely recommended for a business casual but you don’t have to wear a full suit. Why not opt for a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased, but this is avoided through the non-iron garment.
Avoid wearing polo shirts and jeans as these can be seen as too informal.
Been invited to a professional interview?
Always go formal for this type of interview. These interviews could be in front of directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship. You want to look your best here; your appearance certainly counts, and with the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles.
Women can look stylish in a suit too. When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel.
A full suit is a smart idea for a professional interview and won’t look out of place. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style — what about a stylish grey suit? A slim leg may be best suited for you and your shape too.
What not to do
There are some things that you should avoid doing when dressing for an interview:
- Too much perfume or aftershave.
- Too much jewellery or makeup.