It was pretty warm last week, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees, Britain was hotter than Jamaica! But, when you’re trying to look smart and professional for a job interview, a heatwave isn’t necessarily your friend. You don’t want to show up to an interview red-faced and drenched with sweat, but shorts and flip flops aren’t going to help either. So what do you do?
Unlike in countries where summer heat is guaranteed, when it comes to job interviews in the UK there are no hard and fast rules about what’s acceptable and what’s not. People usually make the mistake of dressing a little too casually – short-sleeved shirts, summer dresses, and sandals are all a no-no. And if you’ve got any tattoos, then you’re best keeping them covered up. You will still need to look professional and business-like.
So for men that means wearing a suit and tie, but try to pick lighter breathable fabrics for your shirt; you might want to avoid trousers with a slimmer fit too. You’ll want to make your first impression wearing a jacket, but feel free to ask the interviewer if they mind you taking it off – it can also spark a conversation about the heat too, which will help to break the ice. If you know the company runs a more casual office, you might get away with just a shirt and smart trousers, but if you’re not sure play it safe – it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
For women, you have got a few more options, but things are also a bit less clear-cut. Just like for the men, you’ll want to look as smart as possible – a smart dress or a blouse with a skirt or trousers is the way to go. Again, choose clothes made from lighter fabrics that won’t trap too much heat. But even though it’s hot, your neckline shouldn’t dip too low; your skirt or dress shouldn’t be too short as prospective employers may think this unprofessional. When it comes to sleeves, employers can vary a lot – some won’t mind at all, others might expect a jacket over the top. The same goes for shoes too. Open toed shoes will be an absolute no-no in some businesses, usually for safety due to the nature of the work they do, but others can be more flexible. When it comes to these issues, if you aren’t sure, play it safe.
You’ll want to make sure you’ve got a bag with you containing all the things you’ll need for your interview. Even in the summer you’ll need the essentials – proof that you’re eligible to work in the UK, a couple of extra copies of your CV, and a pen and paper to make any notes. But add to that a bottle of water and some breath mints or chewing gum. Dehydration can impair our concentration and make you struggle to give top answers in interview questions, but it can also cause bad breath too, hence the mints. A pack of tissues or a handkerchief is also advisable, just in case you need to mop up any beads of sweat. Bring an umbrella too, just in case of a heavy downpour.
When the weather’s hot, walk as little as possible. If you can, drive and make good use of your car’s air conditioning to keep cool. If you’re stuck with public transport, make sure to give yourself plenty of time so you don’t need to rush, especially if there’s a fair distance from the bus stop or train station to travel on foot. It’s a good idea to try and find a shady or air conditioned café nearby where you can wait and do a bit of last minute preparation for half an hour before your interview – you can also go to the loo and straighten out your clothes if you need to.
So as much as you might fear showing up to an interview a bit hot and bothered, there are ways to beat the heat and still look professional. Everything will be just fine as long as you engage in a bit of forward planning. Just remember, there’s another human being who’ll be sat across the table interviewing you, so with any luck they’ll have a fan blowing!