As we recruit across the Media arena, we are finding that a lot of our Clients have adopted a Smart Casual dress code which applies to the interviewing process aswell. This can be tricky look to balance but we think this article gives some fool-proof tips….
A traditional job interview outfit goes rather like this: suit, white shirt, possibly a tie, smart shoes. But if you’re heading to a company with a more laid-back sense of work dress, it’s trickier than shoving on a suit. It requires a look that balances your personality within the confines of a formal situation.
David Johnston of Handle Recruitment, a media recruitment consultancy, suggests: “Approach the smart-casual interview outfit as if you were dressing for a smart lunch.” Emma Adler, resourcing manager at Sony Music, thinks the trick is “standing out but blending in”. This is best achieved she says, by understanding your environment – are you going to be sat on a sofa or in a fashionable cafe?
Stacy O’Hagan, people and development executive at Jamie Oliver, would always advise checking in advance. “It’s easier to be overdressed than underdressed,” says Adler. “You want to look business-professional.”
If avoiding suits, Johnston recommends a smart coat. This still gives you a good entrance because it has an air of formality: a well-cut trench, worn with open shirt and neat slacks, is worth considering. You can take the coat off, whereas it’s difficult to know if it’s appropriate to take a suit jacket off. A fine-gauge cardigan is another neat alternative to a jacket: wear buttoned up.
Dresses need structure, says Johnston. Avoid busy swirly patterns and anything too low-cut and sexy. The female trouser suit is winning, but not with a stiff shirt – too much the banker or The Apprentice. Opt for a blouse or simple top. This autumn, the skirt suit returns as the on-trend business look.
Accessories can make your look personal, but don’t go mad. O’Hagan says: “It’s important to accessorise well, as this shows creativity and attention to detail.” Just one or two simple pieces of jewellery add polish.
Shoes are make-or-break. Primarily they should be clean and un-scruffy. It’s probably best to opt for a brogue/Oxford or court/pump. Adler and O’Hagan both say jeans – smart ones, plain and straight – are fine. Adler has a trainers-jeans rule: never wear the two together. O’Hagan thinks trainers are too casual altogether.
Never go to an interview with a rucksack, unless the job is overseeing exchange students, inter-rail holidays or something to do with tents. Satchels or briefcases are best for men, while a structured handbag works for women.
(Simon Chilvers – The Guardian)