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Dressing for success

By Sarah Reid
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Image: Getty Images

Pre-interview checklist

  • Polish shoes and iron your outfit the evening before.
  • Ditch chewing gum and coffee cup before entering the building.
  • Remove earrings from places other than ear lobes.
  • Hide tattoos under clothing.
  • Turn your mobile and iPod off.
  • Don't risk exposing your interviewer to your "eau de ciggie" by smoking beforehand.
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Do your homework
Before you have a chance to convince a potential employer what an asset you'd be to their company, they'll judge you on your appearance. Be prepared by researching industry standards. Generally, corporate roles require well-cut suits and closed-in shoes, while it may be more appropriate to wear a dress to a creative industry interview. Also, consider the interview location. A panel interview or recruitment agency meet calls for smart, conservative attire, while it's generally okay to lose the tie for a cafe meet.



  • Choose a dress or skirt that falls below the knee and which you can sit down comfortably in. Tailored pants have the potential to be assertive (which may or may not work in your favour). Never wear jeans.
  • Choose block colours over loud patterns (which may distract the interviewer). Hint: colour experts say warm colours (red, orange, yellow) say "hire me now!" while cool colours (blue, green, purple) convey dedication and commitment. Black always looks clean and sharp but may come across as boring to a creative role interviewer.
    Chose the statement you want to make and colour code your outfit.
  • Conceal cleavage, bra straps and panty lines.
  • Wear heels you can walk in.


  • Wear a suit to a corporate interview and a crisp shirt, pants and a jacket — not a jumper — to an interview for a trade-like role.
  • Opt for basic black shoes. Never wear sneakers (especially white ones) or thongs.
  • Avoid jeans in favour of tailored pants that sit above your underwear line.



  • Avoid cheap jewellery, and pieces that jangle nosily.
  • Match subtle accessories (like a chain bracelet and diamante earrings) or wear a single statement-necklace or cuff. Dangly earrings scream nightclub rather than nine-to-five.


  • Lose novelty ties and cufflinks. If you need a tie, opt for a subtle block colour that complements your suit and shirt, and wear simple chic cufflinks.
  • Don't bring a briefcase unless you need it. Interviewers will see straight through props.



  • Wear minimal, natural-looking make-up (no bold shadows or lippy).
  • Style hair so it doesn't fall over your eyes. A slick ponytail says "I'm confident and efficient" while edgy haircuts and colouring scream "I'm unpredictable".
  • Clean fingernails and pedicured feet assert your attention to detail. Chipped polish conveys the opposite.
  • Wear anti-perspirant deodorant and spritz perfume at least 15 minutes to half an hour before the interview, so it's not overpowering.


  • Shave, moisturise and use hair product, if necessary.
  • Wear anti-perspirant deodorant and go easy on the cologne.

You got the job …
Even if your office has the same dress code as a Balinese beach bar, don't take advantage of it. Keep shoes on, hair brushed and clothes pressed at all times. You never know when the "big boss" will show up unannounced. Same goes for office functions — you may be out of the office but you (and your outfit) are still in a work environment. Tip: pass on the second margarita!

Tools and resources:     > Find your dream job     > What are you worth?     > Interview confidence boosters

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