Career Tips

What to Wear to An Interview

Date Posted: 10/28/2015

The first impression you make at a job interview is when the interviewer looks at you.  The moment he sees you, he has already formed an impression of the type of person you are.  It is therefore very important for you to look professional enough to be employed for the job in question.

In a survey of hiring managers, 33% claimed that they know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone.  65% of hiring managers say clothes can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates and most employers claim they don’t want applicants to be too fashionable or trendy.

When the chance of an interview is presented to you for a job overseas, don’t blow it by dressing inappropriately as this is your first handshake with the potential employer before you actually touch anybody or speak a word. The key is to know the difference between a social and professional image, and to remember that you are there to sell yourself for a specific professional role and not to attend a party. So take stock of your existing wardrobe and decide what kind of dresser you want to be for the coming interview.

Here are some dress guidelines for both male and female candidates attending an interview for a job abroad:


Suit – choose a 2-piece suit.  Stick with conservative colours – navy or dark grey.  If you do not have a suit, wear a matching coat and pant.
Shirt – wear a long-sleeve shirt in white, light blue or a conservative colour or pattern.
Ties – choose ties that are made of high quality silk in either a solid colour or a subtle pattern.  Be sure your tie is knotted up to the top button of your shirt which should not be left open but buttoned up to the top. If you don’t wear a tie, your shirt should be buttoned with only the top button unbuttoned.
Belt & Jewelry – belt and shoes should match or be closely coordinated.  Keep any jewelry to a minimum. A wristwatch is usually the best choice.  No earrings or gold chains showing on your neck.  Avoid wearing more than one simple ring if you must.
Shoes & Socks – Leather lace-up or slip-on shoes with socks that coordinate with the color of your clothes are a must – no gym shoes or white athletic socks.
Candidates, with long hair should consider getting a shorter cut with short sideburns – not longer than the level of the middle of the ears – at least until you receive a job offer from abroad.
Your nails should be short and clean.  Don’t try and be fancy by using shinny lacquer on your nails.
Clean shaven is preferred or with neatly trimmed moustache or beard and no strong cologne.
Nose hair should not be visible.


A dress and jacket, a skirt and jacket or a skirted suit are all appropriate interview attire for women. Matching pants suits are also acceptable.
Stick with conservative shades and patterns.
Shoes should have a modest heel.  If you want to appear taller, wear higher heels but not so high that you look as though you are off balance or are going to fall.
Necklines and hemlines should be modest; no short skirts and skimpy tops!
Perfume or cologne used should not be overpowering.
Long hair styles which fall past the shoulder, should be neatly styled – preferably put into a bun or pony tail without loose hair on cheeks, neck and back of shoulder.
Light make-up and lipstick complimenting the skin complexion should be worn.
Nails can be short or reasonably long, clean and well presented. If you use nail polish, use a decent color not something too loud.  Once your nail polish chips, remove it immediately or reapply. Chipped nail polish shows you do not pay attention to detail.

Here’s something that you should never wear to an interview:

Trendy or Loud Shirts
Big, Crazy Hair
Loud Jewelry
Very Heavy Make-up (Female)
Outrageous Ties (Male)

Fresh breath is a must for all candidates!

Image is everything.  Good grooming is how you look and how you present yourself.  How you look accounts for 55% of impact or impression the employer has of you.  As such, it’s always safer to be traditional, rather than trendy and put off interviewers. Let your clothes be conservative and focus on your primary objective at an interview for a job abroad – coming across effectively in respect of the 3 Ps in presentation – polish, preparedness and professionalism. That way, chances are you’ll be offered a job or be recalled for the next round of interviews rather than be set aside because you just didn’t wear proper clothes or were badly groomed.

©2015 Ikon Solutions Asia, Inc.

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