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Is Dressing for Success Really That Important for Your Construction Interview?

As they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression so you don’t want to waste the opportunity. Let’s face it, it’s becoming increasingly more challenging to decide what to wear for an interview.


In the past, dressing formally for any interview was the norm. However, times really have changed.
Today several of the world’s top companies pride themselves on their casual dress code, the logic being that employees work best when they’re most comfortable. Steve jobs was known for his black jeans and polo neck jumpers, Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook one of the world’s youngest billionaires, is famous for his uniform of jeans and a hoodie.



So what about the construction industry. Does dressing up now only apply to corporate interviews? After all 90 % of the time most construction workers won’t be wearing a suit.


Business vs. Casual
The question is “Do I wear a suit or go casual?”
Many of you may be thinking the answer depends on the job you’re applying for. Hopefully the company will be focused on you and your skill set and not be distracted by a cartoon tie, or your overly casual dress. Then again if first impressions count does it matter if you are applying for a role as a quantity surveyor, mechanical estimator or site manager?


Business Dress

Personally this is my preference, call me old fashioned if you will. I just think in any interviewing situations you want to present yourself in a professional manner and make an impact. To me this is one element that demonstrates you are serious about the role.
Now I realise that for some people they will go the extra mile, so suited and booted could be a new suit, crisp shirt with double back cuffs and cuff links and the shiniest pair of brogues/shoes ever seen near a building site. Having said this, I can appreciate that this “sharp dresser” appearance could be received by some interviewing managers as “Don’t like them, they are too full of themselves.”



To other interviewing managers it would be quite different. Many years ago when I was starting out in my career I had a manager who had a real thing about shoes. The first thing he looked at when a candidate walked into the room was their shoes. Clean and shiny meant they were given a full interview. Scuffed and dirty meant 15 minutes max.

It’s often been said that you dress one level above whoever is interviewing you and it is easier to dress down once you are there than to dress up after you have arrived.

Remember, you can always take off the tie and go more casual if the situation dictates but you can never add on a tie midway through the interviewer process.

There are other views of course.


Casual Dress

Let’s go back to the more casual look. Now this can vary a great deal as people go through the dilemma of deciding what’s casual, even better what’s smart casual or business casual; all are terms I have come across over recent years.

It’s just a fact of life that people have very different ideas on what’s casual. Just because everyone is wearing rumpled jeans doesn’t mean you have to come in yours too, you have to get past the gatekeeper first, and that’s the recruiting line manager. Whatever they may be wearing, who makes a better impression, the guy in the Maroon 5 t-shirt and worn trainers, or the pleasant looking guy in a suit and polished shoes?



Think about the message your version of casual could communicate. A hiring manager could think, “Can’t be bothered”, “Too relaxed, not taking the interview seriously”, “Obviously doesn’t want the job”, or even “Mm seems quite chilled, wonder if you are as relaxed under the kind of pressure we have?”.

In summary, when any of our team at Humresconstruction or myself interview candidates we expect them to be in a smart suit, with a shirt that looks like it has seen an iron, complemented with a tie.

Darker colours are good and nothing too flashy that could draw our attention away from their skills and experience.
Once you have secured your new role, then it’s time to adopt a dress style that works for your new company and is appropriate for the kind of role.

What do you think? Agree or Disagree it would be good to hear your views.


Best regards

If you need any help or advice securing your next role, contact the team at humres construction on 0203 640 8989.