What to Wear to an Informal Interview

What is an informal interview?

An informal interview usually takes place in a more relaxed or casual setting – such as over coffee or lunch. They have less structure than a formal interview would and often, are more focused on getting to know you as a person, whether you would be a good fit…and… to see if you’re interested in them too!

How do you know whether an interview will be formal or informal?

Some companies will be clear in their invitation as to whether the interview is formal or informal. Where this isn’t the case, think about the following points to help you decide –

  • What language has been used in your invitation. For example, if they have invited you for a chat, its likely to be informal
  • How many people are with you at meeting. Informal interviews are often a relaxed conversation with one other person
  • The location of the interview – is it at the company premises, or offsite at a café, for example. Interviews on the company premises are likely to be more formal
  • Whether or not they have asked you to prepare anything in advance, such as a presentation. If they have, its likely to be a formal process
  • Are there any tests as part of the interview? If there are, its likely to be formal

How should I prepare

Ok, so you’ve decided that the interview is informal…the next question is…how do I prepare? Well, pretty much in the same way you would for a formal interview.

  • It’s still really important to research the company, and the person you will be meeting, if possible – you could check out their LinkedIn profile for this
  • Prepare some good questions to help you get to know the role/company you’re interviewing for
  • Take along any relevant materials/ideas to help you stand out
  • Think about why you want to join the company, what your ideal career path might look like, and any key skills that you can bring. Even though things are informal, these types of questions may still form part of the conversation

What to wear

Firstly, and most importantly – an informal interview doesn’t mean informal clothes.

When thinking about your outfit, consider the dress typically associated with the industry in which you hope to work. For example, if you’re interviewing for a role in the Financial or Legal industries, it’s probably best to dress in business attire, even for an informal interview. However, overall, the most common outfit options for an informal interview will fall under the “smart-casual” banner.

So, what’s Smart-Casual

Smart casual is a perfect fusion between looking professional and stylish, whilst allowing you to throw in some fun, trendy pieces to make your outfit personal to you. Keep the number of different colours and patterns to a minimum – a neutral base with a pop of colour or a pattern thrown in works best.

Below are some ideas to help you put your smart-casual outfit together – these are just some suggestions, and you should always pick out something that makes you feel comfortable.

For Men

  • Non-ripped, smart dark jeans
  • Chinos
  • Shirts – either long or short sleeved
  • Jackets and blazers
  • Shoes and accessories

For Women

  • Non-ripped, smart dark jeans
  • Chinos
  • Skirts – knee length or below
  • Dresses – knee length or below
  • Shirts – either long or short sleeved
  • Smart tops
  • Smart jumpers and cardigans
  • Shoes and accessories

Things to avoid at all costs

There are a few things you should avoid when putting together your outfit of choice…

  • Sandals or flipflops
  • Trainers/athletic style shoes
  • Shoes that make you walk awkwardly or that are uncomfortable
  • Shorts
  • Over-doing the make-up, perfume or aftershave
  • Stained or wrinkled clothing

Finally, try your outfit on around the house to make sure you’re comfortable with it ahead of the day.

Good Luck!

If you would like further guidance on interviews or any other HR topic, please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk


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