You have about 2 and a half seconds. That’s how long it’ll take your interviewer to judge your appearance and decide whether they want you or not. First impressions matter and you can’t afford to lose points on your appearance. I’m going to walk you through how to tick all the boxes, dress to impress and successfully pass your first job interview (as a man). Here is everything you need to know about picking the best interview outfit.
The Suit – classic and understated
If you are on a tight budget, then stick to classic colors: navy blue or dark gray. You cannot go wrong with these. Avoid black (you’re not heading to a funeral) and daring colors (you are not Austin Powers). If you decide to go for patterns, pick them wisely and get a second opinion before heading out. Striped suits are ok but keep them subtle (you aren’t Beetlejuice either).
In terms of fabric; wool suits are the best you can go for. They don’t crease, they age well, and they’re a timeless classic. You can get cheaper suits, but there is a good chance they’ll look cheap and you don’t want to turn up in a flimsy, ill-fitted outfit.
Picking a shirt for a job interview
Again, nothing like a safe choice. A solid white shirt will go a long way and is most likely the expectation. A good interview shirt will be thick enough to hide your undershirt, and long enough to stay tucked into your trousers. Pay attention to the length! Many casual shirts are not meant to be tucked in and won’t stay in place.
Go for a classic or medium collar that allow a tie. A mandarin collar would not do the trick and a button-down collar can be informal.
The right tie for the right man
Unless explicitly stated, a tie is a must when applying for a high-level position. There is no such thing as being overdressed. You want to make a strong, confident statement from the moment you walk into the interview room. The tie is virtually the only accessory at your disposal to spice up your attire and stand out from the crowd.
However, I would advise dark colors. Blue and red are mainstream, safe choices, if you’re undecided, it’s safe to go for one of these. If you think the job calls for a hint of creativity, go for a subtle pattern. Make sure that the tie is properly adjusted, aligned with your belt, and neatly knotted around your neck.
Say no to: broad ties, ties that fall below the belt, your Bugs Bunny tie, pre-tied ties, knitted ties.
The right shoes for a job interview
Shoes reveal a lot about yourself and are, believe it or not, one of the first pieces of clothing people look at. At the risk of stating the obvious: make sure your shoes are clean and polished! Go for a classic shoe, brown or black is probably best. Loafers, Oxford, or Derby are proven favourites. Avoid shoes with garish details, such as bold brand names or chunky soles. Pick shoes in which you are comfortable and, if they are new, be sure to wear them in at home. If you can’t stand comfortably, you’ll probably come across as uncomfortable during the interview. Last but not least, your belt should match your shoes.
No goes: sneakers, slip-ons, sandals, flip-flops.
There really isn’t too much to say, except for the one most important thing: underwear should not be visible during a job interview. Make sure your undershirt is perfectly covered by your shirt and that your boxers are not on show!
Your socks will show at some point. If not, your trousers are way too long! Make sure that they don’t fall down and that you do not reveal your calves when you sit down. As to the color, they should match your trousers, but really any dark socks will be just fine.
Can I wear accessories for a job interview?
As a man, I would keep it simple. A wedding ring is, of course, fine but eight bold rings might not be the wisest choice. A watch is absolutely acceptable; it often adds style and rounds off your interview outfit really nicely. Again, do not fall for flashy, ostentatious or sports watches. Be consistent with your outfit and wear a classic watch with a leather wrist strap matching your belt and shoes.
If you need glasses, take your glasses. If it is sunny outside, take sunglasses but remember to take them off before entering the building.
I think I might need a hat
No, you don’t. Unless you’re interviewing for Wall Street in the 1920s.
Far too often, we forget to pay attention to what we wear on your way to the interview. Pick a coat that is large enough to support your suit. Pressed wool is a good choice. Make sure the coat is longer than you suit jacket. A trench coat is ideal and you should abolutely forget about anything made of plastic.
Scarves and gloves should be equally subtle in terms of tone. Leather gloves are usually a nice touch (far better than wool) and scarves should not be too long or out there.
Prepare your hair and skin for the job
In many industries, finance and banking aong them, the close shave remains the standard look for executives. Beards and moustaches have witnessed a surge in popularity recently, and a well groomed bit of facial hair can tick all the right boxes. Anything in between is a bit more problematic. The 3-day beard is not a good idea – it gives off an air of the unkempt and can be seen as a lack of maturity.
Make sure your skin is hydrated, any face moisturiser will do the job. Watch out for cologne that may be overpoiwering to a potential employer with a sensitive nose. Choose something light or, if you think it’s a bit of a risk, better to go with nothing at all.
In terms of hair style, men have it easy. Going bald? Shave it off. Comb-overs, toupees and pastiches will do you no favours. Own it and have a close shave the day before the interview. Any other haircut is fine as long as it is clean and tidy. How about swinging by the Barbershop the day before?
Final check: dust yourself off before you walk in and definitely have a mint to freshen your breath.
The ultimate checklist to dress to kill for an interview (male version)
- Navy/gray wool suit
- White shirt
- Dark blue/red tie
- Black/brown shoes and belt
- Dark socks
- Low-key wristwatch
- Long coat
- Appointment at the barbershop
- Fresh face & fresh breath