Looking the part

Looking the part
Published: 14 February 2020

Businesses are now increasingly embracing flexible and agile working and engaging with customers where ‘they’ want to do business; this comes with new rules and conventions. Increasingly flexible workplaces, and seemingly ever-more informal work cultures, arguably makes making the ‘right’ first impression even more challenging. So much of our communication takes a non-verbal form, and so ‘looking the part’ is undoubtably still an important part of interview success.

Dressing for the job you want

How do you navigate the complexities of ‘dressing for the job you want’ when every business is seemingly investing in defining its own unique culture as a central part of its employee value proposition? Historically, the simple adage of ‘Sunday best’ – well-pressed clothes and polished shoes – served almost every situation well, and it still holds true in almost all formal situations today.

The conventions of interviews as a formal process remain: it is primarily a platform to showcase your accomplishments. Once the alignment of skills and experience has been established, ‘fit’ becomes key. Arguably looking the part helps you ‘feel’ the part and should help you perform better, and if it helps your interviewer to focus on your capabilities from the get-go, then it’s worth getting right.

So, what can you do? Do your homework and check out how the firm presents itself through social media – it’s inevitable that ‘real’ people will feature somewhere! If all else fails, visit or call their reception and ask about the dress code. This isn’t about uniform matching, but rather tuning yourself in so that you feel at ease. The advice to ‘dress for your day’ and ‘dress appropriately’ is deliberately simple and flexible. There is plenty of room for ‘you’ in there, without having to blindly conform.

Even in the most informal settings it’s a simple mistake to undercook it, but in truth it is quite hard to be overdressed. First impressions count and set the tone for what follows. Of course, once on the inside you have greater freedom of expression, and no doubt to the amusement of your colleagues you will get it wrong at some point too!

For more information, please contact Matt Cockbill who leads the IT & Digital Leadership Practice for Berwick Partners.

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