The established wisdom in job interview preparation is that while dressing well will never overcome deficiencies in what you actually say in front of a prospective employer, it can nonetheless play a big role in projecting a more positive image of yourself.

Indeed, there have even been indications recently that the saying "the clothes make the man (or woman)" has more truth to it than many of us realise, a study cited in The Atlantic finding evidence that people's thought processes change when they wear a suit.

So, you might know the importance of dressing smartly when being interviewed for jobs - but what exactly does that entail?

How suitable 'interview wear' differs between the sexes

The basic rules of interview dress arguably don't change much whether you are a man or a woman - you are still best advised to wear something comfortable and that you actually feel confident in. It's a good idea to go for 'safer' colours like black, not using more than three colours across your entire outfit, while you should also pay attention to all of those 'small' aspects, such as shoes and socks.

Beyond these broad principles, if you are attending an interview for a role, whether it is in chemistry, pharmacology, immunology or a different scientific or technical field altogether, you will almost certainly be expected to dress more formally than the 'business casual' that can be prevalent in interviews for other job sectors.

What men might wear to a science job interview

A good rule of thumb is to dress one level more formal than would be expected in the day-to-day job. For men, that often means opting for darker, more sober colours, choosing cotton instead of linen on account of the latter's tendency to crease easily, and brown or black shoes - leather rather than suede.

Colours are an important consideration for men, which at the most basic level, means avoiding distracting or garish ties and socks. Also give thought to colour combinations and coordination - while blue can be made to work with brown, the same cannot be said of black and brown.

Some good dress pointers for women

Suits aren't merely timeless - they also effortlessly cross gender lines. Further down one's outfit is a different story, with women needing to choose between trousers and a skirt. If opting for the latter, the distance between the hemline and the knee should not exceed the length of one biro.

Women, like men, are advised to wear darker colours like black, navy or brown, although a lighter, plainer colour can be a good choice in the summer. Scarfs can also be a source of brighter colour, but patterns anywhere are generally a no-no. Any blouse is best plain, and heels should not be too high.

While many would reasonably argue that there are no hard-and-fast rules governing what to wear to an interview with a recruitment agency, the above should nonetheless constitute sound guidelines for the many of us who consider the thorny issue of interview wear almost as intimidating as the interview itself.   

Comments are closed

User Menu

Month List