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Is a suit an interview necessity?

20 replies

Sparklegeek · 20/04/2012 20:02

Hmmm, need some help ladies! I have my first interview in 17 years next week (& breathe....), first job since children. Job is secondary school admin. I don't have a suit & wanted to avoid buying one if poss as it just wouldn't get the wear. My friends all think smart casual is fine, my Mum says suit! Is this a generation thing or is she right? I realise working environments are more casual now but is a suit still expected at the interview stage?

I tried on some outfits today & was quite happy with smart black trousers, white t (tucked in), red fitted cardi with belt over to pull in at waist, red patent heeled ballet pumps. Plus possibly a red scarf or necklace. Now having a confidence crisis though! Yay or nay?

OP posts:
FruitPastillesForever · 20/04/2012 20:06

I always go for a trouser suit, be interesting to see others opinions.

ApuskiMcClusky · 20/04/2012 20:12

Suit not necessary in all but the most corporate type places, but you still need to look smart. It's hard to tell from your description how smart the outfit is - black trousers vary, t shirt only ok if you can't really see it, Cardigan would need to be fine knit to be smart enough imo.

Sparklegeek · 20/04/2012 20:14

Trousers are smart, t shirt barely visible & cardy is fitted not boyfriend! Plus it's all pulled together with belt over the top & scarf. And nice brand new shoes :) But what do I know, I haven't worked since 2000!

OP posts:
whatsallthefuss · 20/04/2012 20:16

Yay! you'd look fantastic and confident. if you havent worked for that long they will see it on your CV.

confidence sells more than a suit does.

good luck

EdithWeston · 20/04/2012 20:18

Do you know the school at all? What do the existing admin staff wear on days when they have important external meetings?

My preference would always be for a jacket or a suit for an interview. Do you have one you could wear instead of, or over, the cardigan?

LackaDAILYcarb · 20/04/2012 20:20

I think trousers and a jacket (whether matching or contrasting) would be construed as more smart.

Funny enough I was thinking this the other day as I had a big interview today. The concensus among all my friends was a jacket at the least. So I found myself in M&S at 8pm yesterday buying a suit! For a job in academia, who let's face it aren't the sharpest dressers in town :o
However I'm glad I did as the other candidate was a bloke in a suit and I would have looked Scruffy by comparison.

Could you perhaps borrow a jacket from someone?

Good luck for the interview :) I've only had five years out and that was nerve cracking enough!

libertychick · 20/04/2012 20:28

I think your planned outfit sounds very appropriate. I am senior manager in NHS and I would expect someone coming for a management level job to wear a suit or smart dress with jacket but for admin level jobs as long as someone looks pulled together, no jeans and clothes clean and ironed that's fine.

Grooming is important in my opinion. Better to spend your money on a haircut and blowdry than a new suit. Have nails short and neat and keep make up discreet. Most important thing is that you are in clothes you feel comfortable in and nothing too distracting so if going for a scarf or bright jewellery check with someone that they don't distract from you. Remember that most people sweat when they feel stressed so steer clear of polyester!

Sparklegeek · 20/04/2012 20:34

I do know the school, I invigilate for them on a casual basis when exams are on. (This is first 'proper' employment, not just a few hours here & there a couple of times a year). What I was planning would be entirely appropriate for working there, but I was unsure whether I had to crank it up a notch for the interview. I don't have any sort of jacket & don't have any corporate friends to borrow from either! Jacket does seem to be in the majority on here though so maybe I need to rethink...

And thankyou for the good lucks! At the moment I'd really like to fast forward a week!

OP posts:
Springforward · 20/04/2012 20:52

IME of interviewing I have to say that a suit is the least risky option, followed by smart seperates like the ones you describe.

However, the last person I offered a job to wore an overlarge silk shirt and tailored trousers, but it didn't really matter as she was the best candidate by far, and she'd be in uniform once in post.

jumpinghoops · 20/04/2012 21:03

I'm going to go against the grain here and say your outfit sounds well put together and fine for a secondary admin job as long as you can't tell the T-shirt is a t-shirt and the cardy is smart (as you say it is!) I'm a former school teacher and now work in an admin position in a university. I think you can get away without a suit- especially if your coat is smart over the top as you go in.
Good luck!

Sparklegeek · 20/04/2012 21:08

OK, here is another option. I have ordered in the creme brulee colour, together with the matching cardy & this necklace


OP posts:
libertychick · 20/04/2012 21:16

That's a fantastic work dress sparkle (and it's a bargain!). If it doesn't look right then I still think your original outfit sounds absolutely fine.

notnowImreading · 20/04/2012 21:20

The admin staff at my school are very smart and none of them wear suits. They beat the teachers hands down for grooming because we are all knackered and look like shit

Your outfit sounds very classy and nice.

EssentialFattyAcid · 20/04/2012 21:24

Smart is good but a suit will not be necessary. Grooming is good so polish your shoes, iron your clothes, wear accessories, blow dry your hair and wear discreet make up. Have nice nails.

Good luck. What you say isore important than how you look unless you are a model!

Springforward · 20/04/2012 21:26

Lovely dress OP, that would impress I'm sure.

ellaleven · 20/04/2012 21:34

I think your outfit sounds fine and the belt will pull everything together. If you are not sure about t-shirt (although as you said, it is barely visible) Zara do some nice plain silk (ish) style tees in cream and white that look perfect for office wear. The Camille dress is great too and you could wear the cardi and shoes with that. Well done for getting to interview stage. Out of interest did you do any courses to refresh admin skills or did you already have plenty of experience? (I am trying to get a job in a similar area after being a sahm for what feels like forever). Best of luck!Smile

Sparklegeek · 20/04/2012 21:42

ellaleven no haven't done any refresher courses so to say I'm stressed is an understatement! Am having tuition from teenage sons this weekend Blush Yes, I am v scared.

OP posts:
QuiteOldGal · 20/04/2012 21:51

Sounds fine for an admin job. I have had interviews fairly recently for that sort of job level and have worn similar. I didn't feel i would had done any better or worse if I had worn a suit. I've always worn smart separates for interviews and felt appropriately dressed. I would probably wear what your most comfortable in cos you don't want to be worrying about laddering tights or stuff like that if you don't normally wear dresses.

Good luck for next week.

ellaleven · 20/04/2012 21:53

The fact that you have made it to interview means you are half way there and dont be stressed, you have teenage sons so you can handle absolutely anything!Wink Just breathe,smile and remember to sell yourself. Something we get out of the habit of when raising children.

smokinaces · 20/04/2012 21:59

I had 2 interviews last year, both in schools.

The first I wore a suit. It was hot. I felt flustered and uncomfortable. I never wear suits so felt like I was wearing a grown ups clothes (I'm 29 FGS) I thought I did fab in the interview, but they hired someone else (who from memory was wearing a blouse and suit skirt but no jacket)

I then got an interview at my dream job. It was hot. (Both July) and I wanted to look more like me, yet smart. I wore smart trousers with a smart waistcoat and a thin blouse with heels. I felt smart but comfortable - and fitted the more relaxed but smart clothing that the staff interviewing and working there wore. I felt more comfortable during my scrutinising hour long interview, and felt I performed better. I got the job Grin. So no, a suit isnt always neccesary. Your outfit does sound right for the kind of place I work at.

Just dont do what one candidate last year did. Creased linen skirt, old shapeless ballet bumps and a denim jacket.

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