How To | Dress for a Building Services Interview

What to wear at an interview? You might think it’s no longer important in the building services sector; the truth is, it’s as important today as it ever was – first impressions count. 

In my granddad’s day, the professional dress code was straightforward. If your dad worked in an office, it was a suit and tie job. Then the 90’s hit and smart casual made an entry into everyone’s vocabulary!

This was soon followed by dress down Friday. Which in many industries has spread over other days of the week too.

While many people welcome these changes, they do make dressing for an interview a lot more complicated.

It’s likely that the building services organisation you are applying to has  a ‘brand’ that they want to communicate to clients and like it or not the way you present yourself, especially your image could add to the decision of whether it’s a yes or no to a job offer.

As an experienced building services recruitment agency well versed in the interview process, we have some thoughts that might help.

It still matters what you wear

HINT… this is important. Many people interpret the slide towards casual dress codes as a sign that what you wear doesn’t matter; even at interview.

Unfortunately that isn’t true. Dressing appropriately for the role you want is a skill in itself.  Why?

It immediately shows that you’re serious about the role and appreciates the opportunity to be interviewed. If the panel’s or hiring managers first thought when you walk in the door is “I wonder, why they are wearing that ?”, you will have to work a lot harder to win their trust.

Remember the interviewer will be looking at what you are wearing as a clue to how you will impress their clients and how you will fit in with their team.

Should I buy something new?

It’s common that people will rush out and buy something new to wear at interview. The choice is yours.

What is important is to wear something that makes you feel good and flatters you too. Rope in the help of your significant other or best friend to give you an honest opinion.

Overdressed is better than under-dressed

If you’re still unsure, err on the side of caution and dress more formally. While you may feel a little uncomfortable, interviewers will recognise that you were willing to make an effort. What’s more, a formal outfit can quite easily be made more casual.

If you arrive and realise you’re overdressed, you can go to the bathroom and remove your jacket or tie or switch from heels to flats. In contrast, it’s almost impossible to upgrade an outfit that’s too casual.

Our survey says… dark and conservative is the safest bet

According to an article published that asked hiring managers their honest opinion, dark blue and black are the safest colours to wear to interviews, while orange is the worst.

Ultimately you don’t want the interviewer to notice what you’re wearing consciously, so go for dark colours and simple cuts, with nothing too short or tight. Heels are fine, though think about what we mentioned earlier; can you walk comfortably in them for at least 30mins?

Different situations may demand a different approach to dressing. The most important thing to remember is that your appearance should be professional but unassuming, allowing you to take centre stage.

Personal Grooming… yes it matters!

Though we are talking about what to wear, it’s important to think about your full physical impact at an interview.  We don’t mean to get personal, and your grooming is necessary! Hairstyles come and go, and so do beards. Our top tip is to make yourself presentable. Clean hair and clothes polished shoes all sound old-fashioned. They aren’t, and surprisingly they will be noticed.

Perfume and aftershave? Yes and no. Nothing wrong with using either just don’t overdo it. Our sense of smell as humans can arouse an emotional response both positive and not so positive. Don’t take the chance of wearing a ‘smell’ that one of the interviewers hates and consequently getting a reaction you weren’t hoping for.

The elephant in the room; smoking

This is a hot topic. The building sector has its fair share of smokers, and in most situations, employers accept that.

If you are a smoker, remember that non-smokers are sensitive to smell. If you have had a couple of cigarettes post interview, it’s likely to cling to your clothes and especially your breath; sorry to say this can be off putting for some managers, so don’t do it!

It’s okay to ask

If you’re unsure of how to dress for an interview, ask your building services specialist recruiter.

It’s a common question we are asked by candidates daily. We know the ‘dress code’ in detail of every single one of our clients and the likes and dislikes of the hiring manager.

This is the quickest and easiest way to put yourself at ease about what to wear, allowing you to focus on preparing for the interview itself.

Good luck!

A&D Recruitment is a vibrant, independent employment agency specialising in Renewable Energy & Building Services sectors.

Founded by recruitment experts Alessia and Darren Williams, A&D Recruitment has successfully placed candidates in a diverse range of roles over the last 12 years. To get in contact call 01743 247774 or email on

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