Preparing for your future

Dress to Impress Employers

Helen Mc Nally, from the Careers & Employability Team shares her thoughts on dressing to impress …



If you are preparing to attend an employer selection day or an interview, your priority will be to do your research, anticipate possible questions and think about your best examples to demonstrate the skills and competencies required for the job.  However, don’t forget to also plan your outfit for the big day – novelty ties, comedy socks, facial piercings and bright fake nails may be your usual means of expressing your personality, but when trying to impress a potential employer, it’s a good idea to tone it down.

For the Interview

If you are preparing to attend an interview, it’s best to always dress professionally.

For men this means a suit; a clean, ironed shirt and a tie; matching socks in a dark colour and polished shoes. Trainers are a definite no no (including black ones).

For women there is a lot more scope: a dress, skirt or trouser suit is acceptable, but there are a few extra tips to bear in mind:

  • Skirts or dresses should be no shorter than just above the knee and make sure that the hem doesn’t ride up when you sit down.
  • Avoid exposing your bra or cleavage by steering clear of low cut tops or straining buttons.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable enough to get you through the interview.  Party heels with big platforms are not appropriate, but smart heels are fine (if you have to travel to the interview on the train for instance, you might want to wear a flat comfy pair of shoes and pack your heels to change into).
  • Pale nail varnish is OK, but avoid long bright nails and chipped polish
  • Bare legs are frowned upon in some organisations, so consider nude tights instead (eg for law firm interviews)

You can follow the advice above without looking like a black and white interview clone.  A splash of colour is fine, perhaps for your shirt or blouse.  Bear in mind that some sectors tend to have a fairly conservative dress code, so you may want to take a look at an organisation’s website to get an idea of what seems to be the norm.

For Careers Fairs

For most careers fairs you will not be required to wear your full interview garb, but nonetheless, if you want to make a good first impression on employers it’s a good idea to ditch the shorts and flip flops and opt for a smarter look.  For certain fairs, such as the Cardiff Law Fair, and the Business, Finance and Banking Fair employers may expect you to be well presented in smart business wear.  For other fairs at Cardiff however, smart casual clothes are recommended – for instance, trousers and a shirt for men and trousers, dress, or skirt for women. If in doubt, err on the side of caution. Opting for business wear and following the above rules is a safe bet. Recruiters won’t criticise you for looking too smart!

Put these tips into practice at our forthcoming Careers Fair, starting Tues 14th October!

Best wishes

Your Student Life, Supported
Careers & Employability, The Student Support Centre, 50 Park Place, Student High Street

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