We all know that in life first impressions matter, and they can be the biggest influence on people’s opinions of us for a long time! This is especially true in a country like Tanzania, where protocol and formalities are greatly respected and people attach a lot of significance in presentation.
There are few places where first impressions matter more than during a job interview. In fact, most employers make a decision about you in the first 30 seconds of meeting you. That means that their impressions are greatly influenced by the way you dress and carry yourself.
Yes, this may seem superficial and unfair.
But the thing is, your employer and the hiring committee need to be able to visualize you in the position they are trying to fill. However, while you need to dress appropriately for the interview. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wear a suit, as your interview attire will depend on the work environment you are trying to be apart of.
So, if you don’t wear the right outfit, you are showing the interviewers that you don’t understand the basics of what it takes to be successful in the workplace. This perception could cost you the job.
Luckily, there a number of steps you can take to make sure that you have a winning look on interview day.
1. Research company culture
Your outfit should make it easy for the employer to picture you working there.
That means that you need to research the office culture and figure out the general work attire. You can do this by:
- Looking through company social media pages for pictures of current employees.
- Researching the dress code for the industry the company is in. So for instance, start-ups are casual, whereas law firms are more business formal.
If after doing some research, you are still not sure about the dress code, call the company and ask the human resources officer.
2. Show your personality, but stay professional
It’s important to wear clothes that make you feel comfortable, while still matching the company’s dress code.
For instance, if the company’s dress code is business casual, you can wear your kitenge (African print) pencil skirt. All you need to do is make sure it’s knee length, not too tight and keep the rest of your outfit simple.
3. Look crisp and clean
- Hair is tidy and out off your face
- You have no bad odor: brush your teeth, don’t eat anything with a strong smell, wear deodorant
- Clean your nails
- For men: trim your beard
4. Less is more
Keep the makeup, perfume or cologne and accessories simple. Your appearance shouldn’t distract your interviewers from what you are saying.
5. Practice makes perfect
Try the outfit days before your interview to make sure you are comfortable and feel great in it. Actually, you should go a step further and practice answering your interview questions in the outfit.
Even if you know the dress code of the company, it can still be difficult to understand what it actually means. So here’s a quick breakdown of the 4 main types of work attire and what they mean:
1. Business Formal or Boardroom Attire
This is the highest form of professional attire. If you are interviewing for a position at a law firm, managerial, corporate exec – this is what you should wear to the interview.
- A full suit, in a solid color: black, gray or navy
- A white collard button down dress shirt
- Nice dress shoes (either black or brown)
- A simple tie
- A full pant suit or skirt suit
- Conservative shoes (kitten heels)
- Simple makeup and jewelry
2. Business Professional
This still maintains the full suit and overall professional appearance of the business formal, but with a little more personality.
Therefore, you can wear:
- More basic colors and patterns to shirts and ties
- Bolder accessories and jewelry
3. Business casual
This is the most common dress code, but also the most confusing as it still requires you to look professional, but also allowing room for self-expression.
- Shirts, collared button-ups and t-shirts (with blazer) in any color and patterns
- Ties can be colorful and have bold patterns
- Black, brown or any other colored slacks and khakis, dark-wash denim
- More casual accessories, such as a leather-band watch
- Shoes can be oxfords, loafers, or another comfortable yet dressy choice, in brown or black
- Knee length skirts and dresses, khakis, colored chino pants, and dark washed denim
- Colored shirts and blouses. Avoid low-cut shirts or bright patterns.
- Larger jewelry, such as a statement necklace or large cuff-style watch
- Shoes may be comfortable flats and loafers, as well as pumps
If you are lucky enough to go on an interview at a casual office. Still dress business casual, even if the interviewers are wearing shorts and flip flops. It’s better to be a bit more dressed up, than be under dressed.
Dress for success
Getting a job interview is a big accomplishment, and it would be a shame if you were the most qualified candidate but didn’t get an offer because of how you dressed.
It takes more than just our skill set to land a job, everything from our body language, soft skills and outfit contributes to the decision the interviewers make. So, always remember that first impressions matter and you can control what the interviewers will think of you simply by what you wear.