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How to dress for interview success

That all important first impression is priceless, so Hannah Smithson asked the experts their top tips for getting it right.

The businessman

Nigel Martin worked in banking for the Royal Bank of Scotland in London for years, and later recruited staff and interviewed volunteers for the Oasis Trust charity.  He is now setting up his own youth group called Aspirations for Youth. He says he understands that it is increasingly harder for young people trying to find a job but urges everyone to keep going and aspiring to their goals. Listen to the interview above for his essential tips for surviving the interview stage and keeping those nerves at bay. 

The restaurant manager

Local restaurant manager Steve Sims explained what he likes to see in a potential employee.'It depends what job role you’re going for, but even so I would expect anyone coming for a formal interview to make an effort. By that I mean the basics; being tidy, clean, presentable, clean shaven, and prepared.'

Steve mostly recruits for front of house roles, so first impressions are important to him as his staff are facing customers every day. 'Fashion is not so much of an issue but if someone was stuck in the 60’s for example, I’d struggle employing them.' he said.

'Unfortunately, no matter how many qualifications you have, if you come to an interview looking shoddy then you won’t get the job. I would rather employ the chic looking person with less qualifications- at least I can train them up but I’m not here to be a fashion guru. The same applies for your CV, if the presentation is poor and it’s littered with spelling mistakes from the start then nine times out of 10 it will just sit in a draw and not be looked at again.'

The fashion designer

London fashion designer Nicola Baum recently returned from London, Paris and New York fashion week and advises to always dress up rather than down. 'If you’re unsure, go for more,' she said.

For females she advised, 'Don’t be scared to dress up and wear skirts and dresses – you can get away with it and men can’t, so why not? Finally, don’t go dressed like you’re going to a funeral - some colour is OK and shows your personality. You want to be remembered, but similarly not for looking like a firecracker, so keep it sensible.'

The university officer

Matthew Usher is Outreach Officer for Bournemouth University and has conducted many interviews in his time. He wears a simple coloured shirt to work most days and says comfy shoes are the most important thing to remember!

'It’s very important that you are presentable when you come to an interview but it doesn’t have to be the boring black trousers and white shirt. We actually quite like something that shows off your personality.'

'But make sure your shoes are comfortable – there is nothing more annoying than shoes that you have to wear all day that are rubbing at the heels and pinching at the toes. We like people who are confident but comfortable.'

Now you look the part, what are the most important things to remember in any interview?


Double check all the interview details- time, place, if you need to bring a portfolio of previous work or qualifications.

Just apply for any old job- try and find ones that suit your skills and person specification.

Give a good handshake when meeting your interviewer. It will set the interview off to a formal but friendly start.

Be late. Arrive 10 minutes early and make sure you know exactly where you need to be and when.

Make good eye contact and smile throughout – if nothing else they will see that you are happy and focused.

Read from notes in the interview – try to memorise the key points you want to mention.

Take a notebook and pen to jot down anything you find interesting – it will show your willingness and interest.

Just talk about what you want out of the job. You maybe asked about this but try and steer it towards how you can benefit the employer.

Research on the company you are applying to. It will impress employers if you have taken the time to be interested in them.

Ask for holiday in the first interview . You don’t want to seem too keen to disappear on holiday at this stage if you really want the job.

Consider questions that might come up and prepare any questions you want to ask. An interview is a two way street and you want to know that the position is right for you too.

Worry- try to keep those nerves at bay by consciously breathing deep and even if you think it is not going well simply keep calm and carry on. Often it is never as bad as you imagine.


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