You’ve all heard that age-old saying that ‘first impressions count’. It might sound cliché, but it really is true – particularly when it comes to interviews. Why? Well, put simply: we don’t know you from a bar of soap. It’s up to you to win us over, and your first impression is your appearance.

When we talk about appearance, we don’t mean beauty. We’re talking about professionalism, about wearing attire that is appropriate for the occasion. And when it comes to interviews, it’s important to up the ante on your wardrobe.

If you don’t know where to start, look at what other people wear to work. Next time you’re on the bus or walking through the centre of town, have a sneaky gaze at what business people are wearing, and aim to copy them in your next interview. Suit pants or a skirt, blazer, shirt or blouse, and smart shoes (don’t forget to polish them first) are a good place to start. Monochrome colours like black, white, navy and grey are great too. Be careful about low-cut tops or skirts that are too short when you sit down.

Your interview outfit extends to your overall appearance too. Make sure your hair is tidy, your nails trimmed (it’s also a good idea to remove any chipped nail polish beforehand), and teeth brushed. Don’t forget personal hygiene; have a shower that morning and don’t forget deodorant!

Of course your outfit can vary depending on the type of job you are going for. If you know they’re a young and hip kind of business, you might get away with being a little more casual with your attire. If you’re going for a management position, think about going the whole hog and donning your tie too. Don’t go to the gym directly before your interview then turn up in your sweaty activewear (clean activewear isn’t appropriate either – unless, perhaps, you’re interviewing as a personal trainer!). Remember, paying attention to your outfit and overall appearance will show your prospective employer that you’re serious about the role you’re going for.

This doesn’t mean you have to buy a whole new outfit just for an interview though. If your wardrobe is looking a little empty, ask around and borrow something from your friends, or repurpose your wedding suit. Mall stores like Hallensteins and Glassons have a great range of basic office wear; you’ll even find affordable pieces in stores like Kmart and The Warehouse. Don’t be afraid to browse your local op shops either; pairing a $7 pair of dress pants with a shirt you’ve bought brand new is a great way to go.

One more thing. If you are trying to find a job through a recruitment agency, before you’re put forward for an interview with an employer, you’ll sit down for a chat with a recruitment consultant. While this is part of the pre-interview process, you should treat this meeting like a real interview. After all, we’ve never met you before and the purpose of this meeting is to find out more about you, plus this is a great opportunity to practice for the real thing. Don’t be afraid to ask us for advice about your ‘first impression’ either.