Whilst most of us would be quite confident picking out an outfit for an office job interview, it is less clear what employers expect for construction-type roles. A suit straight off the Hugo Boss peg would without doubt be overkill – but what kind of clothes fit the bill?
The first point to emphasise here is that you do still need to dress smart. You need to create the impression that you are a responsible person who cares about their work, and this starts with your appearance. The look you are going for is ‘business casual’ or ‘smart casual’.
Whilst you don’t need to wear a designer suit, a button-down shirt or blouse is still a must. A plain shirt, rather than checked or patterned, would be preferable.
A jacket isn’t always necessary but depending on the weather where you live, it might be desirable! If you want to wear a jacket, a blazer-style jacket or smart coat will work – but a suit jacket will likely make you look over-dressed.
Above source: Cultivated culture
Alternatively, you could go more casual on the shirt – a crisp white t-shirt, for example, and pair this with a smarter jacket or blazer. Combine this with relaxed trousers or smart jeans and smart shoes. A tie won’t typically be expected. If you’re applying for a job to work on-site, think smart-casual and dress like you’d expect a supervisor of your target department to dress.
“Don’t dress for the job you want to have, dress 30% above your level. More than that, and it will look like you’re trying too hard.”
– Jason Warner, Head of staffing for a division of Google.
Above source: Next.co.uk
Above Source: Next.co.uk
Make sure your clothes are clean, pressed and fit you well. Avoid rips, prints or wear. Wear appropriate footwear for the site, clean your shoes and don’t leave your shirt hanging out. It’s all in the detail – if you can’t take care over your appearance, what indication does the employer have that you’ll take care with your work?
Accessories should be kept to a minimum regardless of your gender. If you have your ears pierced, choose a very simple, understated earring for the day, such as these plain pull through earrings. If you usually wear a watch, consider whether it adds a nice finishing touch to your outfit 0 otherwise, remove it for the day. Avoid wearing anything that may be distracting, such as eye-catching earrings or excessive make up. Whilst naturally you want to make a good impression, you also want the employer to focus on your qualifications, experience and what you have to say – not the way you look.
Whilst you know and your interviewer knows that construction work can be messy, they won’t want to see a messy appearance on the day of the interview. Your hair and facial hair (if applicable) should be tidy, and your skin clean. Even if they won’t stay clean for long on the job, a simple thing such as dirty hands can suggest you don’t care about the interview, losing you the position.
Finally, if it is not objectionable to you to make such an adjustment, it is wise to avoid wearing anything that might give away details about your personal life, such as jewellery that hints at your marital status, religion or sexual orientation. Whilst employers are not allowed to discriminate against you (and indeed, these matters are part of several protected characteristics), discrimination does still occur in interviews.
Overall, your appearance should not look out of place on the site, even though you may look more like a supervisor than a construction worker for your interview. Expensive suits or fancy shoes might leave your employer questioning whether you’ll be comfortable working under the conditions of the site. On the other hand, a neat and tidy appearance will show your employer you care about the role and can pay attention to detail.