Dressed to Kill: The Finance Interview


According to Business Insider you only have 7 seconds to make a first impression. Whoa!  Hold your horses (and other western metaphors we can’t call to mind right at this moment). Did you say “7 seconds?”  If that’s the case, a firm handshake, professional smile and the right clothes are your weapons of choice. So if you want to have a gold star finance interview you definitely need to dress the part.

We tapped into two of our fashion forward recruiters – Christiana Mota and Saad Saigol – for some timely advice.

Since we know first impressions matter, we need to foster an appearance that brims with confidence and professionalism.

  • Keep the overall look classic.
  • Neutral colours such as black, blue, white or brown paired with the right accessories can express personality (caveat: keep accessories conservative).
  • Even if you know the work environment is laid back, dress to impress.
  • Research the company’s culture in advance, but even if it’s a fun tech company, keep it business casual. For example, you can wear a skirt or dress pants, coupled with a nice blouse and no suit jacket.
  • If you wear a pattern, keep it simple and tasteful and never wear a patterned dress.
  • We’ve all wanted to run away and join the circus at some point (ok, maybe you haven’t, but we have), but unless you’re a trapeze artist in Cirque du Soleil, don’t combine bold jewellery, with a scarf and a pattern – it’s too much.
  • You can’t go wrong with a classic skirt suit – navy or black, with a crisp white shirt underneath.
  • A simple pencil dress with a suit jacket also suffices.
  • Shoes matter – clean, polished, closed toe, with a reasonable heel (less than 3 inches) that you can walk well in. If you’re not sure what colour shoes to wear – brown or camel coloured shoes and belt (if applicable) are always a safe option as they match most neutral tones.
  • Even in the summer be sure to wear pantyhose, especially if the dress is above the knee.
  • Keep in mind that a role involving customer/client contact will mean that your attire will be assessed more critically, (even if the meetings are over Skype).

The icing on the cake is how you carry yourself, so remember to walk confidently, shake hands firmly and make eye contact. Your body language will instill confidence in those interviewing you and communicate your capability.

Your attire plays a supporting role so make sure it sends the right message.

  • Whether it’s a suit, or more casual attire, keep the colours neutral – black, navy blue or grey are good ideas, with a dress shirt in either white or sky blue. Focus on keeping it simple and smart.
  • If you wear a suit jacket make sure it’s the same colour as your pants and consider not wearing a tie.
  • Make sure to research the company’s culture to determine if the attire is business casual. If so, consider pairing dark jeans with a nice blazer. A white shirt works best in a case like this, although a shirt with a subtle pattern is acceptable.
  • If you’re going to interview in a corporate setting, wear a suit and tie.
  • Your tie shouldn’t be flashy.
  • If you wear a patterned shirt (and keep the pattern simple and small) then avoid a patterned tie.
  • Shoes need to be polished, neutral in colour and ideally match your belt – dark brown or camel colour can work because they tend to match most neutrals. If you’re panicking because you’re not sure which colours match we have your back. Dark brown shoes go very well with a navy suit (along with a matching belt). Black shoes go well with a grey suit.
  • Do not wear loafers with a suit.
  • Make sure your pants aren’t darker than your socks.
  • Want something to bring extra copies of your resume in? A leather portfolio works well.
  • Keep in mind that any role involving face time with clients will mean that your attire will be assessed more critically.

Dressing appropriately for an interview sends a strong non-verbal message that you respect the process and are ready and willing to take on the role.

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so make sure that your attire is communicating the right message.  Dress professionally in neutral colours. Make sure that your clothes fit you impeccably. Make eye contact, shake hands firmly and ensure that you smile as you do so.  Carry yourself with confidence. Keep in mind the old adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.