When selecting the proper clothing and accessories to wear for a financial services job interview, projecting an image of responsibility, integrity, knowledge and class is vitally important. First impressions are lasting and will set a qualified applicant apart from the rest from the moment they enter the interview room.
Banking interview norms
Banking industry job interviews generally follow a dress code, whether it is formally issued by the firm itself or simply the basic guidelines of style and appropriate business attire. The first step to being properly dressed for a banking interview is to find out what the dress code is for the firm. Smaller firms often have more relaxed requirements for employee attire, but it is still important, even in more casual environments, to maintain a professional appearance.
Apparel advice for banking job interviews
Smart interview attire for men
Achieving a crisp, pressed, classic business look for men is relatively simple, usually beginning with a two-piece suit in navy, grey or pinstripe. The button-down dress shirt should be crisply ironed and white or light blue. It should not clash with the tie. The tie should be a blue, green or red, and should be solid or have only a small-print pattern.
Choosing two or three suits, several shirts and a variety of ties will provide a number of different professional looks that can be mixed and matched. Shoes for men should be of high quality, made of leather and appropriate for formal environments. The shoes should be shined up and any scuff marks removed. Men should take care to match their socks to the suit or trousers they are wearing, as well as to each other. Use the quick guide below for reference.
Men: quick guide
Assume that the banking interview is formal attire unless otherwise stated. A clean-cut business suit in a conservative colour such as grey or navy blue is a safe choice.
A necktie is necessary with a formal business suit in a banking interview. This is where a man can add a little bit of colour to his look, as long as it is not over the top. A plain blue, green or red necktie is appropriate. Avoid patterns, unless there is a particular reason to wear a tie with a professional emblem, such as society membership.
A crisp, white, long-sleeved shirt is the classic banking interview look. However, the modern business scene also allows for pastel colours, so a light colour to match the choice of tie can also be appropriate. The collar and cuffs should be clean and properly buttoned.
Well-pressed trousers from the business suit are the most advisable choice. Have them dry-cleaned in advance of the interview, and try to avoid pockets bulging with keys.
Conservative, plain matching socks in colour coordination with the suit can usually be complemented by polished black leather shoes.
A handkerchief in the suit pocket is no longer obligatory in formal business attire. Over-dressing, as if for a formal banquet, is as bad as under-dressing.
Smart interview attire for women
For women, creating a professional outfit for a banking interview begins with choosing quality pieces that may be mixed and matched. Tailored business suits are a classic choice; women may choose either dress suits or trouser suits, or both. Tailored blouses and skirts are also acceptable choices. Skirts should be at least fingertip length, and blouses should be buttoned appropriately to avoid being considered inappropriate for the workplace.
The most versatile colour palette for a woman’s business wardrobe is muted earth tones, especially for suits and primary outfit pieces. Pastels and primary colours may be added in, with scarves or jewellery pieces added to personalise the ensemble. Shoes for women should be of high quality and appropriate for formal environments, with a good shine and no scuff marks. Women should wear some kind of tights, preferably without a pattern and of a coordinating neutral colour. Use the quick guide below for reference.
Women: quick guide
Women’s business suits are increasingly favoured as formal attire for banking interviews. A clean-cut conservative look in light brown, tan or light grey would be a safe choice.
A little extra colour can be added to a women’s business suit using a discreet scarf in a plain, primary colour that matches the jacket. A blue, green or red scarf in a light material would be appropriate.
If in doubt, a well-pressed white blouse with a modest pattern and neckline is a good choice to match almost any business suit. Avoid both a neckline that is too low-cut and a neckline with a high, uncomfortable collar.
Women can choose between a trouser suit and a business suit with a skirt. In the case of a skirt, knee length is to be favoured. Avoid miniskirts that inappropriately short, or evening wear that is inappropriately long.
A small amount of gold or silver jewellery, such as a necklace and earrings, is acceptable for women. Plain, polished business shoes can be chosen to match the colour of the jacket or skirt/trousers.
If wearing a skirt, tights are also necessary. Tights should be plain and neutral in colour. If wearing trousers, conservatively coloured tights or stockings can be chosen, according to comfort, as long as they are colour coordinated with the rest of the outfit.
A small handbag is a useful addition, preferably containing a small make-up case to refresh any make-up just before the interview.
Even the best and most professional outfit can be downgraded if other aspects of grooming are not up to the dress code. Professional grooming is very important to the overall appearance and also conveys a sense of the individual’s attention to detail, an important banking attribute. Men should have a shaved face and hair should be neat and trimmed. Women should have their hair styled, up if it is long, and make-up should be modest and business appropriate. Nails should be clean, trimmed and neat. If in doubt, check with a recruitment consultant at Randstad concerning the suitability of clothing items.