• Creative Fix NZ

Dressed To Impress! Interview First Impressions #nailedit

Your CV did its job perfectly, and your cover letter blew their minds. Now the big day is approaching! No, we don't mean your wedding, but we would understand if you were almost as nervous, because staring down the barrel of the interview for your dream job can be a little daunting.

Although you're feeling confident with what you'll say, and how you'll answer their questions, you might be feeling a little stuck when it comes to your personal presentation... Is this a business 'suit and tie' sort of place? Is your fragrance too intense? What will they make of your visible tattoos? Don't panic, my friend! We have some tips that will ensure you're looking fresh and feeling confident when you walk into the room.


You want to dress to impress; really knock their socks off! (Sorry, we couldnt resist including a clothing-related pun) With that in mind, we have one word for you: context. The most important thing to remember when it comes to your interview attire is to make sure what you're going to wear fits with the business at hand. If you're going for a job as a mechanic in a garage, a full suit and tie will likely be considered too formal. If you're going for a job in an office, you have more scope when it comes to wardrobe options. As a general rule, we would suggest you're better to overdress than to underdress.

NOTE: You don't need to spend a fortune on a new wardrobe, in fact, you can always borrow clothes from a friend or family member. Just make sure they fit you correctly and that the items are not ripped/stained or faulty. You don't want your potential employer to have to point out to you that your fly is down! #awkward

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Off the top of our heads, here are some top tips related to clothing for job interviews. (Please keep in mind that we have tried to keep these clothing options as gender-neutral as possible. While historically there have been 'rules' around 'male' and 'female' clothing, these days, things are slightly less constrictive).

JEANS - Sometimes appropriate, depending on the role. We suggest sticking to dark blue denim/dress jeans with no contrast stitching, no large logos, no embellishments, and no wash/fade patterns.

T-SHIRTS - While you can get some rather dressy t-shirts, these are not usually considered interview-worthy attire. In saying that, if you pair your t-shirt with dress pants/skirt and a blazer, you might be able to make it work! Just ensure the t-shirt is plain, clean, and not too low cut (That goes for everyone. It isn't appropriate or professional to be showing too much of your chest in an interview).

COLOURS - While a pop of colour is refreshing (in the form of a shirt/top or tie) the colours for the majority of your clothing should be dark blue/black. Who says?

"According to 2,099 hiring managers and human resource professionals who participated in CareerBuilder's recently published survey, blue and black are the best colours to wear to a job interview, and orange is the worst".

- (Business Insider)

SUITS - To suit or not to suit? If you're applying for a job as a lawyer or another equally high-powered office job, a full-blown suit and tie are appropriate. If you're applying for a job in an office that has a much more casual approach, you could get away with dress pants/skirt and a shirt. If you're unsure, ask HR before your interview or do some research online to find out what sort of clothing people wear in the office, then take it one level higher for the interview.

SHIRTS - Historically, long-sleeve button-down shirts were considered more professional on men than short-sleeve shirts, yet women were able to wear either without any issue. In general, women have had a much broader range of 'top' clothing items available to them than men, but as mentioned, things are changing, so when it comes to button-down shirts, we say, as long as you're not showing too much chest, and you feel confident, wear it! Just make sure the shirt is ironed, clean, and not too 'loud'. (While Hawaiian shirts are awesome, they might detract the focus from your interview, so save 'em for loud shirt day).

SHOES - Big takeaways here are to ensure your shoes are professional-looking dress shoes that are clean, tidy, and that you can walk in them! Stick to black, brown, neutral tones, and if you are wearing a visible belt, we think it's a nice touch to match your shoes to your belt. Absolutely avoid casual footwear such as sneakers, running shoes, slippers, crocs, or jandals (flip-flops/thongs).

JEWELLERY - Minimal jewellery or nothing at all. Keep earrings small/tasteful, remove visible facial piercings if possible (small nose studs are fine). If you have multiple or large facial/ear piercings, maybe call ahead and speak to HR to see what they suggest. Some businesses are quite liberal and progressive and might not mind at all. Avoid wearing large necklaces or multiple bracelets and bangles that will jangle and potentially be loud and disruptive during the interview.

SKIRTS/DRESSES - There are some wonderful options for business skirts and dresses out there. Pencil skirts/dresses or 'A'-line/wrap dresses are both good silhouettes. (Avoid empire line/maxi dresses, high/low skirts, long flowing skirts and other less structured dress/skirt shapes) Just make sure they fit well, are comfortable, and that they are appropriate length without large splits up the back or side. If you think it might be too short; it is! (As a rule, you should be able to bend right over without showing your undergarments).

TATTOOS - This is a tricky one that has hit the news here in New Zealand on multiple occasions. Most company policies state that you can have tattoos as long as they are able to be covered up/not visible during work hours, or that if they are visible that they must be 'non-offensive'. If you're not in a client-facing role, an employer might have more leniency, but we suggest contacting the businesses HR manager to ask them what their tattoo policy comprises.

Attitudes to tattoos in New Zealand are changing. So much so that Air New Zealand has recently changed its stance, with CEO Christopher Luxon saying the airline is committed to building a diverse and inclusive workplace that truly reflects the makeup of Aotearoa.

“We want to liberate all our staff including uniform wearers such as cabin crew, pilots and airport customer service teams who will, for the first time, be able to have non-offensive tattoos visible when wearing their uniforms... In conversations we've had with customers and our own people domestically and overseas in the past five months, it's clear that there is growing acceptance of tattoos in New Zealand, particularly as a means of cultural and individual expression.” 

- (Human Resources Director [HRD], NZ)


In addition to dressing in professional attire and always ensuring your clothes are fresh, clean, well ironed and that they fit you properly, you also need to make sure that your personal grooming is at a very high standard. This means that you show up to the interview ensuring you have taken the following things into consideration:

  • Have had a shower the morning of your interview and are wearing deodorant.

  • Have fresh breath/clean teeth. (Do not chew gum or mints during the interview).

  • If you are a smoker, do not smoke prior to going to the interview.

  • Clean hair. (If you have long hair it is a good idea to tie this back or at least make sure it has been brushed/styled).

  • Nails need to be clean and tidy. (If you are wearing nail polish ensure that it's not chipped).

  • Avoid heavy makeup and overpowering fragrances. It is best to keep makeup simple and clean to ensure you don't wind up with mascara/eyeliner blobs/smudging under your eyes, or lipstick on your teeth, etc.

  • If you have facial hair, that is fine, it just needs to be well-groomed.

Remember that an interview is a meeting where the employer will be taking all of you into consideration. It is important to make a good first impression face-to-face. You can help boost your chances by projecting a confident, professional image. Although obvious, if the personal grooming tips above are neglected, you might find yourself missing out on a position. (No one wants to sit in an office all day beside someone that isn’t wearing deodorant!)

If you have questions about an item of clothing, or for whatever reason, you are stuck with what to wear to your next interview, please reach out to us; we are happy to help!