You've filled in the forms, carefully crafted your cover letter and bagged an interview for the job you really want. Now it's time to think about what to wear. If your budget won't stretch to a new suit, don't despair. Here's our guide to looking smart on a shoestring.


1. Work your wardrobe

It's always worth checking out the contents of your wardrobe before you hit the shops. A quick look through the smart clothes you've already got will probably reveal that you only need one or two extra items to create the ideal interview outfit.

Got a tailored black jacket and white shirt? Simply add a smart black skirt or a pair of formal trousers to complete your look.

2. Stick to the staples

When it comes to interview ensembles, it's important to combine style and simplicity. Your outfit needs to look smart and blend into the background, so muted colours like black, grey, brown and dark blue are all ideal.

To achieve this look, you need a few staple items. The key to any interview outfit is the smart jacket. A well fitting tailored jacket will give you a sophisticated edge and you'll be able to wear it to future interviews.

If you're a female graduate, try pairing your jacket with smart black trousers or a pencil skirt and a crisp white blouse. Black shoes are essential but if you go for heels, make sure you can walk in them! If you don't fancy wearing the same old clothes to every interview, you can freshen up this outfit very cheaply by swapping the white blouse for a coloured top.

Male graduates attending their first interview should either opt for a suit or a pair of tailored trousers and a smart jacket. If you're applying to work with a company where the dress code is more informal, chinos are perfectly acceptable. Combine them with a plain shirt and pair of polished black leather shoes and you're guaranteed to look as if you've made an effort.

3. Shop around

Ready to go shopping? There are plenty of inexpensive high street stores to pick from. At H and M you'll find women's blazers for under £30 and a selection of sharp suits for men. H and M also stocks a great range of budget blouses, shirts and work trousers for both sexes.

If you're after shoes that don't cost the earth, try Primark or Next, where you'll find plenty of formal footwear on offer. If you'd rather shop from the comfort of your home, visit online retailer ASOS.

4. Add accessories

Accessories are a great way to add a finishing flourish to your interview outfit. Keep them tasteful and avoid ostentatious jewellery at all costs. Coordinating necklace and bracelet sets don't have to be expensive and you can buy them from many high-street retailers or supermarkets.

The most eye-catching accessory a graduate can wear is a good-looking watch. Combine this with a smart leather belt and you're bound to impress your potential employer.

Now that your outfit's sorted, allow some time to make sure you're looking your best. Neat hair, clean clothes, trimmed nails and polished shoes will all be noticed by your interviewer.

First impressions count, but it's the winning combination of your personality and talent that'll clinch you your first job. So once you're in that interview room, forget about what you're wearing and be yourself. Good luck!

Anna Whitehouse writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching career starters with graduate jobs. For everything from marketing internships to graduate jobs Manchester, click here.

Share this article

Popular posts