Eight things men must know about job interview dress code
This article shall help you learn how to dress properly for a job interview. It may be of interest to those men in quest of a job – recent graduates, professionals seeking for a better job or promotion.
It may be of interest to those men in quest of a job – recent graduates, professionals seeking for a better job or promotion.
These eight points are strikingly often neglected by job seekers, but comprise a great deal of an interviewer’s impression about those interviewed.
The importance of being properly dressed for a job interview
First few seconds make up the biggest part of an overall impression, when meeting for the first time either with an interviewer or a fellow denizen. The rest of time in a conversation is usually spent by confirming or discarding that first judgment the companion had, and rationalizing it. It can be a hard, sometimes impossible, to overcome the first bad impression; so why bother doing that?
The rest of time in a conversation is usually spent by confirming or discarding that first judgment the companion had, and rationalizing it. It can be a hard, sometimes impossible, to overcome the first bad impression; so why bother doing that?
You must have been doing a good job writing cover letters, preparing your resumes, learning interview questions by heart and practicing answers to them; but there is one little (not that little in fact) thing you might have overlooked.
That thing is your attire. It does matter. That must be considered in all respects before you go on an interview for a new job; and in this article, we will try to help you learn how to take full advantage of your dress and add up perfect look to your already exemplary set of skills and experiences so that great job you used to dream of does not pass you by.
Learn about the work setting, premises and office style that your perspective company abides by.
An open-space office means that the company fosters less formal working style, which can also be reflected in less strict attention paid by interviewers to your attire.
This fact, however, does not suggest that one can show up in a pair of their favorite old jeans and a t-shirt on an interview with such a company.
On the other hand, the company you are about to be interviewed for may have been keeping their traditions for centuries, with respective attributes – conservative dress code, tables of red wood, chairs of expensive leather etc.
This can be the case in legal, lobbying, consulting, private banking and other industries that highly depend on reputation.
Thus, being interviewed at Google differs from being interviewed at Credit Suisse. While in the former case your appearance can be more relaxed to a certain degree, in the latter it is probably better to have a classic more austere look.
Get to know the company’s dress code
In addition to discovering the company’s work setting, it is important to learn if there is any particular dress code. The company may have a semi-open office space in form of, so-called, office cubes, but be highly strict on office attire. With regard to that, you can highly benefit from meeting one of employees of that company you are going to be interviewed at.
This way you can get a better idea of what are the expectations from and requirements to potential employees, and learn to better satisfy them. A good resource that can help you with such research is numerous professional networking websites of which the most popular is Linked-In.
Make sure you have proper attire beforehand
It usually takes a while to find a suit that perfectly matches one’s body type. You may try on tens of suits before you find the right one. Therefore, it is best to start preparations in advance – a few weeks at least if you are planning to
Therefore, it is best to start preparations in advance – a few weeks at least if you are planning to buy a suit, or even a month or two should you decide to have your suit custom tailored for you.
In both cases, the classical men suit would be your best bet. It has remained the same for hundreds of years and thus never changes at a sudden whim of fashion.
Before purchasing a suit though, make sure you have learned a few important things about suit selection, which will be discussed in the following sections.
A few days before the scheduled date of the interview, have your hair freshly cut or, at least, trimmed around the neck and ears. To make sure you have it done right and exactly as you like it, visit a barber that has been cutting your hair for a while already.
Otherwise, you might be not satisfied with the job done, and become worried about your cut at the interview.
There is no need for that to become something you are uncomfortable with in a such an important event .
If you grow a mustache or beard – must be also freshly trimmed; otherwise get shaved on the very day of the interview, or, at least, on the prior day.
When shaving, be also careful not to cut yourself (bleeding on an interview is just not right!) and try to to prevent razor burn. Not only all that will make your more attractive to everyone, but can also boost your self-confidence and, again, relieve you from having to worry about such minor issues.
Manicure is a detail that a male professional should pay meticulous attention to, it must be never overlooked. Make sure you nails are neatly cut and brushed so you they do not look like if you have been plumbing or repairing trucks for a while before coming on an interview.
Nails poorly cared of almost always cause people’s aversion, and loudly speak for a person’s overall untidiness.
A very little of cologne can be okay. Do not apply too much of it for an interviewer not to suffocate if in a small room, where you might be interviewed. Anyway, it is still advised to use some neutral-smell
Anyway, it is still advised to use some neutral-smell deodorant after shower instead of cologne since it is hard to predict how a perspective interviewer feels about fragrances. Important thing to remember in this respect is that too much of scent can be really overwhelming.
Buying a suit from a store
It may seem at first that the fastest, simplest and cheapest way to get oneself a suit is get it from a nearby mall. Well, further you will find information that shall, probably, make you reconsider that. In fact, getting a ‘ready’ suit is one of the worst options in terms of price-quality-status ratio.
First off, mass producers simply cannot make their suits to fit each and every customer. Normally, a suit manufacturer would create a few standard models with a standard cut, which are supposed to fit a ‘standard’ person.
Apparently, no man is a ‘standard’ one, every person’s build is different and, sometimes quite significantly. Nonetheless, if you have to stick to this option for this or that reason, try to find a producer whose cut matches your figure the best. Then if there are minor issues with your chosen suit, you can visit a tailor who will correct that and make the suit properly fit.
Buying a bespoke (custom tailored) suit
The best choice in general and especially for very ‘non-standard’ men (short or tall, wide or thin) would be to order a custom tailored suit, a so-called bespoke.
By that, you can ensure its best fit since such suit will be made specially for you. Thus, you will look perfect wearing such suit on any occasion.
There are usually a few tailor shops even in small towns and a number of these in larger cities; however, it is important to know that the particular tailor you are about to order your suit from does make good, quality suits.
Another option is to order custom-made suits online. There are a number of companies that has recently embarked on that business and, so far, there have been thousands of positive responses about their experience from customers.
In general, prices for bespoke suits start from $200 for very simple, cheap ones and may be up to $1500-2000 for ones that are hand-sewn and made of the best existing textiles.
There is a huge selection of various suit fabrics on the market, and it is very important to choose a proper one. Whilst a blend (usually, wool with some synthetic fabric) is fine, it is highly recommended to have a suit made of natural fabric such as wool.
Blends keep the price of a suit down, but they have more cons than pros – they breathe and last less, and, in most cases, look very cheap and unacceptable for formal events.
The most neutral and thus most appropriate colors for a job interview and any other highly formal occasion would be navy blue and charcoal.
If you want to wear black, it is recommended that a fabric you choose has some pattern on it, stripes for example.
A solid black suit is usually worn by waiters (unless it is a tuxedo), and thus a mauvais tone for business suits on any occasion including a job interview.
Should you decide to use fabric colors other than those, make sure to understand that your sticking out attire will draw exorbitant attention and, perhaps, cause additional questions.
As for the fabric pattern, the best idea is to have a suit of a solid color or with narrow stripes, which will make it reasonably subtle and not too clownish.
The best suit style for a job interview would be a one that provides for the simplest suit design, least of fanciful details and a one that do not go out of fashion. That is the classical men’s suit.
In the United States (and most of the countries) it means a two-piece suit with two or three button, regular flap pockets single breasted jacket with a notched lapel, and a single or double back vent. Such suit jacket is shown on the pictures below.
When standing, suit jacket sleeves should show one inch of shirt cuffs; lapels should lie flat, buttoning of the jacket should not be too tight. Jacket shoulders should not extend past yours. The back length can be decided this way:
Standing straight, try to grab with your hands (without bending or anything) the backside of the jacket; perfect if you can, if you cannot do that without either moving hands up or bending down than the jacket is too short as in the former case, or too long as in the latter. Neck collar of the suit should lay flat showing three to four inches of a collar of your dress shirt, and form no bunches.
Lapels, sleeve buttons, pockets
Do not go for trendy thin lapels if you want to wear the suit you are buying a year after and, perhaps, even longer than that. Such lapels are nothing but a dernier cry, which will quickly go out of fashion.
The number of cuff buttons should be at least as many (usually, four) as those on the front of jacket. Make sure to tug all the buttons and check the sewing by pulling the seams (not too hard!). Of course, a left breast pocket must be present on the front of a jacket.
3. Dress Shirt
Fabric, color and pattern
A lot of men do not pay attention to a shirt they wear thinking of it as of something that must be good, nice looking and neat only in a few parts, namely collar and cuffs.
Well, these might be the only visible ones, however the importance of a properly selected and fit shirt should not be overestimated.
There is a great variety of dress shirts’ shirt fabrics, weaves and colors offered on the market. A rule of thumb is that a shirt should be chosen to complement your suit and a tie.
While, a classic white broadcloth shirt can match almost any suit-tie combination, it is especially good for toning down a bright (striped) suit. In order to make an ordinary solid-color suit brighter feel free to choose a striped herringbone or pink oxford dress shirts.
In general, you may want to choose a unique fabric weave (twill or herringbone) in a soft color to spice up and individualize your look, but make sure the color is not too bright though.
Also, consider the fact that seasons (of a year) also play a role in people’s color perception and thus should be accounted for when deciding a shirt color.
A shirt with a particular collar should be chosen according to a shape of one’s face since it, so to say, frames it.
If your face is thin and long, choose a spread collar. For those whose face is round or who has wide body type, the best bet would be a classic point collar.
To check if a shirt and collar you have chosen fit properly, wear a shirt, button it up and put your two fingers in-between a buttoned collar and your neck. There should be just as enough space as to fit them.
Cuffs with one or two buttons are a good selection for a job interview.
Cufflinks can be regarded by some interviewers as obnoxious, so it is better to avoid wearing them unless you do that all the time and just have no shirt with buttons.
Sleeves and cuffs should go right to the top of your hands with one inch of shirt cuff showing from under your jacket sleeve.
4. Neck tie
Saying about a neck tie color, your best bet for a job interview is the most conservative (or classic) one. Such ‘classic’ colors are burgundy, navy blue or green.
If you consider yourself experienced in tie selection and have a good taste for tie colors, you can try different colors or ties with patterns, however, it is important to remember that a tie must complement the entire outfit and that the pattern and quality are what really matters in it.
Ties with simple repeating patterns can be good for a job interview as long as those patterns are as simple as possible.
Obviously, ties with Homer Simpson, Christmas trees, or reflective colors must be left to be worn on their respective occasions as an interviewer may not appreciate such a ‘great taste’ and/or sense of humor.
Striped ties in certain countries (England for example) may traditionally represent an association with a certain club (a military club, boys club, school etc.), and thus you should make sure that by wearing such a tie you will not be putting yourself into an awkward situation on a job interview.
Although ties made of natural silk can be more expensive, it is highly advise to wear one of those on a job interview. Synthetic ties may be cheaper, but they never look the same way as silk ones do.
Knot (How to tie a tie?)
A knot type to use on an interview will depend on a shirt collar you chose, as well as on the type of the tie and your own face structure. If you do not know what is your ‘perfect match’ , you just cannot go wrong with a Half-Windsor knot.
There is a number of different types of men’s dress shoes.
However, a pair of black round-toed shoes known as Oxfords, a classics of men wardrobe, remains the best selection for a job interview. Such dress shoes come with either closed or open lacing.
Slip-ons of any kind must be avoided. They are okay for business casual style and also great for traveling, but look absolutely unprofessional being worn on formal events and thus unacceptable for a job interview.
Evidently, the shoes should be neat and well-polished – no going on an interview right after winning in a rodeo!
Your socks should match the trousers and/or shoes and be possibly solid and dark in color. The rule of thumb here is that socks must not draw people’s attention.
If and when seen, socks should appear as seamlessly flowing between your slacks and shoes.
When it comes to jewelry, the main thing to remember is that the simpler and less of it – the better. Wedding rings, of course, are always acceptable.
Another ring or two are fine unless it is a seal-ring with a huge shiny diamond or scull on it (shown in a photo on the left).
Anyway, it is better to keep jewelry at minimum especially when you are not aware of interviewer’s particular tastes and standpoint on this issue.
Earrings and piercings
The rule ‘the less is the better’ is valid for all the types of jewelry including various nose rings, piercings and earrings. If you think you will not be able to withstand an interview without wearing one of those, remember that each piece of such jewelry sends a certain message to the interviewer (whether positive or negative).
It definitely will, in one way or another, affect their impression of you even though that will not be told. Moreover, in some countries such look may be unacceptable.
It is not generally a smart thing to sell you car to buy a hand-made Vacheron Constantin with a huge diamonds in a dial. Again, the simpler – the better. Just one addition – quality here matters a lot.
Thus, avoid wearing digital, sporty watches, as well as those overwhelmed with various dial plates, huge tachymeters, world time zone plates etc.
It is better to use a watch with a leather band, but in the United States a metal one is acceptable too.
A belt should be made of leather and match the color and possibly the quality of leather on your shoes.
There should be no tracery on the belt and the buckle should be very simple, preferably without any ornament.
Although can be done without, business cards will furnish additional professionalism to your image. Besides, business cards exchange is intrinsic to any networking event, which makes them an everyday necessity for every more or less serious professional.
Finally, you can distribute them once and every time you need to provide someone with your contact information, even when not in formal environment, instead of writing that on a shred of paper. College students or recent graduates are often able to order business cards at their university/college career office.
There are also a number of companies that offer custom business cards for free or at a quite modest price.
Make sure to turn the ringer on your mobile phone off for the duration of an interview. You should not want anything to have your job discussion interrupted. An interviewer wants that to occur even less.
Should you need to carry a laptop or documents (a resume, references etc.) with you to an interview, a black briefcase or portfolio would be a means of transportation for them.
Do not even try to use your old good duffel bag that ordinarily carries your gym wear or a backpack that was proved so comfortable while hiking the Appalachian trail last summer.
Even so-called business packs (backpacks) are definitely mauvais tone on a serious formal event including a job interview.
Those can be used in a casual business environment, but they are unlikely to impress your interviewer.
All the advice provided in this article may sound really trite and simple, but it is striking how many men fail to follow these simple eight rules. If only recent graduates and inexperienced, young professionals were the case, that would be understandable.
However, sometimes one may see a respectable businessman in his 40s wearing a fancy blue reflecting tie with little mermaids (which might have been a gift from his daughter) on a highly formal event.
Such neglect of the basic rules of formal etiquette not only diverts but also shows disrespect to the people around, and thus could easily cost such ignorant person a job (or a potential job), important deal or good relationships.
Whereas following these rules multiplies the benefits of just being dressed nice and neat by attracting (in a good sense) people’s attention and getting their favor, finding a better (or a new) job and raising own motivation and self-respect.