In a tizzy over your wardrobe choices for interview?
Calm down! You’re not the only one.
Applicants are very good at creating extra things to worry about.
For example, I spent a good five minutes outside the door to my interview wondering whether I was supposed to knock or not as I was the first candidate of the day. What if knocking was a sign of horrendous impropriety? What if not knocking was a sign that you were far too timid to be allowed to set foot in Oxbridge?
Endless dilemmas. In the end they came out and got me. It was fine. Similarly, people can get bogged down in their sartorial choices.
I am going to make a statement now, which is the magical secret to interview clothing choices:
Wear something that you are comfortable in.
There are caveats to this, but that’s the basic rule. Don’t dress for the interviewer, don’t wear what you think they want you to wear – wear what makes you comfortable.
What does that mean exactly? Well, not a Winnie-the-Pooh onesie (sorry), but equally, it doesn’t have to be a suit. I cannot stress that enough: it does not have to be a suit.
The interviewer honestly isn’t there to judge you on your clothing choices. You don’t get a “black mark” if you wear jeans and a t-shirt. They care about how you think and the way you answer the questions. That’s all.
Don’t wear something confrontational – it’s a good idea to avoid potentially offensive slogans, and overly revealing clothing should also be given a miss. Beyond that, you have free rein.
“What if I want to wear a suit, though?”
Wear one! If you feel more confident in a suit, if it helps you concentrate or puts you in the right mind-set, heck, even if you just think you look damn good in a suit, then go right ahead. However, if you feel more relaxed in jeans or a day dress, go for that too. I wore jeans and a jumper to my interview and nobody set off an alarm.
At the end of the day, interviews are stressful enough without worrying about the clothes you’re wearing.
Your parents or your teachers may try to make you dress more formally than you want to, so don’t be afraid to firmly tell them that this is your gig, and you’re going to choose what you want to wear. You don’t want to get distracted by an itchy label or an uncomfortable seam when you’re trying to make the best intellectual impression of your life.
Wear something that you feel relaxed and confident in. Wear your lucky t-shirt or your Sunday best. Just make sure that you’re comfortable. Because it honestly doesn’t matter what you wear. Most Oxbridge fellows have questionable fashion sense anyway…