Dress for success

Revive your interview wardrobe.


Amna Hashmi April 09, 2014

In a time when CEOs are sporting jeans and sneakers with turtlenecks and hood-jackets, it can be challenging to dress for a job interview. To help you out, Ms T asked professionals from a range of industries to share some top tips on how to dress for your big day and how it could help jumpstart your career

Our clothes and how we perceive ourselves bares a great impact on our confidence. Whether you are hanging out with old friends, meeting new people or trying to leave a lasting impression on colleagues, the right outfit can be a huge confidence booster. Bright ideas accentuated by a professional look can go a long way, especially in a job interview. For your assistance, Ms T consulted human resource professionals across the corporate world for the new do’s and don’ts of office attire. Follow these tips and you are sure to sail through this recruitment season!

Clothes



"There is a fine line between being underdressed and overdressed. Most girls in Pakistan opt for elegant shalwar kameez but if you choose to wear pants, make sure they are slacks, not skinny ones lest you look too casual. Nothing too revealing, of course. Loud prints and bright colours are never a good thing at an interview. Elegant and sober does best."

Leon Menezes
Former GM Human Resources Shell Pakistan

"In my opinion, understated is the way to go as it allows the interviewer to focus on your content and not your appearance."

Humaira Ahmad
Talent Acquisition Manager GSK Pakistan

Hair



"Blow-dries, excessive gel and styling aren’t required. A simple, sleek look is what one should go for. If you have curly hair, it should always be tied. Also, your hair should never cover your face. It makes the interviewer think the candidate is hiding."

Leon Menezes
Former GM Human Resources Shell Pakistan

"It is extremely unprofessional, not to mention distracting, to play with your hair while you talk so it is best if you tie it up in a neat bun or pony."

Humaira Ahmad
Talent Acquisition Manager GSK Pakistan

Jewellery



"A common mistake female candidates make is wearing too much or too eye-catching an article of jewellery which can distract the interviewer. Once again, simple and chic is the look you want. No dangly earrings or chunky pendants."

Leon Menezes
Former GM Human Resources Shell Pakistan

"Some female candidates walk in wearing multiple earrings on each ear lobe or a ring in every finger which looks extremely tacky. One pair of earrings and a ring in each hand is much more professional and if not rings, then I would suggest a watch or a thin bracelet."

Shahla Surhyo
Senior Manager Recruitment, Bank Alfalah

Make-up



"Less is more. The point of makeup is to enhance one’s features, not make them look like cartoons. Personally, I think one swipe of eyeliner is enough. It gives off the impression that the candidate is conscious of their grooming but also respects the interviewer. Girls with too much makeup appear narcissistic and no one likes that. I am particularly averse to the current trend of flashy, neon nail polishes as these can ruin your entire outfit in a second."

Leon Menezes
Former GM Human Resources Shell Pakistan

"Anything you would wear to a wedding must be avoided. Say no to golden, silver or smoky eyes and dramatic eye shadows."

Momina Javaid
Corporate Recruitment Manager, Nestlé Pakistan

Accessories



"These days, I see a lot of young girls lugging around large handbags which they do not need cause the interviewer probably has all the required documentation already. Small handbags are fine so long as they match the rest of your outfit. One other thing a lot of female candidates do wrong is leave their sunglasses on their heads once they are indoors when they should take them off and put away. It is an interview, not a coffee party."

Leon Menezes
Former GM Human Resources Shell Pakistan 

"I’ve seen some youngsters leave their headphones around their necks upon entering the office premises. They must make sure all appliances and hand held items are put away in advance to avoid a last-minute rush."

Shahla Surhyo
Senior Manager Recruitment, Bank Alfalah

Smell



"Wear deodorants! Interview anxiety makes you perspire more."

Momina Javaid

Corporate Recruitment Manager, Nestlé Pakistan

"An interview can be a nerve-racking experience that can send one’s sweat glands in overdrive. Therefore, take precaution and a keep a bottle of your nicest smelling perfume in your bag. It should be a light, flowery scent — nothing too fruity or musty that will announce your arrival before you even show up."

Leon Menezes
Former GM Human Resources Shell Pakistan

"Apply a soft-smelling perfume at least an hour or two before your interview so that it dissipates a little before you enter the room. Strong fragrances can throw the interview off guard."

Shahla Surhyo
Senior Manager Recruitment, Bank Alfalah

Shoes



"Heels add grace and purpose to one’s walk which gives off an aura of confidence, especially when the candidate walks in. That said, the shoes you choose shouldn’t be more than two inches high or too flat. Flip flops may be in fashion, especially considering the warm weather, but they simply aren’t apt for a corporate setting."

Leon Menezes
Former GM Human Resources Shell Pakistan



"It is advisable to keep your toes covered with clean, polished pumps for a more professional effect."

Shahla Surhyo
Senior Manager Recruitment, Bank Alfalah

"Joggers and trainers are okay only if the interview includes a site visit to the factory or farm"

Momina Javaid
Corporate Recruitment Manager, Nestlé Pakistan

Words of Advice

"A candidate must comprehend the culture and environment of the organisation they are applying to and then work on their dressing. You see, some firms are more formal in nature while others are more relaxed. But above all, you should be comfortable with whatever you are wearing as only then can you perform at your peak!"

Sumika Farooqui HR Manager, P&G Pakistan

"In an interview, small things matter and create an impression. Therefore, don’t be chewing gum when you walk in or sport flashy accessories — they give off a negative vibe."

Humaira Ahmad
Talent Acquisition Manager GSK Pakistan

Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, April 6th, 2014.

COMMENTS (1)

Stranger | 7 years ago | Reply

Bring back the good old saree I say .

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