Never, under-dress for an interview, it’s simply unforgivable!

I know it is Queensland summer, at times over 37 degrees, sun blazing down, but I cannot EVER understand people’s inability to understand the importance of looking sharp for an interview. Not only is the old adage of “first impressions count” true, my opinion is that if worst came to the worst and you were ever questioned on your attire, you can always explain why you dressed “up” but there is simply no way back if the client is wearing a jacket or even just a tie and you are not.

In nearly 9 years of recruitment, I have heard one example where a candidate was ridiculed for wearing a suit and tie – it was a capital equipment sales role based in Rocklea, and the client apparently was annoyed that the guy had worn a suit and tie, saying that he wouldn’t fit the company culture. For mine, that was a smokescreen to a degree and instead of being honest with the candidate about his lack of suitability, he just chose to focus on his look. In my opinion, the candidate had a lucky escape, he wasn’t a jeans and polo shirt kind of guy and therefore would not have worked out in the long run.

People say to me it is too hot to wear a jacket – not true. A jacket can literally be put on as you are going into the building having been in the air-conditioned car – easy.

Sales roles are about first impressions and looking good. If you do not look good to a Sales Manager, how on earth is he or she going to want to put you in front of their clients?

Several of my clients will never wear a jacket or a tie, BUT they are not the person going for the interview. Sure, dress for the occasion with your clients, when I was in a sales role, if I was meeting a CIO I would wear a full suit and tie, if I was meeting site foremen I would wear steel toe caps, jeans and polo. However, when going for an interview, no matter how “informal” or if it is labelled as just a “cup of coffee” 99 times out of 100, hiring managers will appreciate the effort taken to dress sharply. It shows respect, it shows appreciation of their time, it shows that you can be trusted to go and see their clients.

My biggest client will always wear an embraided company shirt with business trousers and shoes. I tell all my candidates this in advance, often describing to a tee what the client will wear. As a result of that, some of them choose to not wear a jacket and tie or a sharp dress. Sure enough, each time I get the feedback, the client mentions their attire – regardless of how strong their interview may have been.

I may seem out of touch, old school and classically British, but presentation is everything. For 1 hour of your life, pop on a tie, throw the jacket on, you can always ask during the meeting if it is ok to remove it. Also, please make sure the shirt and tie match each other and the suit – I recently had a young candidate who went out and bought a new suit, shirt and tie on my recommendation – although smart the client commented that he thought he might have dressed in the dark!