In this guide, we’ll discuss how to best present yourself for a job interview, from both a sartorial and grooming perspective.
Below, we’ll talk about the specific garments you’ll want to wear and how to properly groom yourself. We will also link to guides that will allow you to explore each of these concepts in depth.
You can read this guide from start to finish or simply jump ahead to the section that most interests you by clicking one of the links below:
How To Dress For A Job Interview
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What Clothes To Wear On An Interview
Of all the things that a man will have to dress for in his life, job interviews can be the most stressful.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have been born or have become independently wealthy, you need a job. As more and more people graduate from college and grad school every year, the job market becomes more and more competitive. It’s important that you do everything you can to set yourself apart from the pack in a positive way.
Having excellent grades and a well-appointed résumé is only the tip of the iceberg. We’ve all heard that people with whom we interact make snap judgements based on our appearance in anywhere from 10-30 seconds.
Your stellar résumé is nearly useless up against that hurdle! As such, this section will deal with proper suit-related attire.
Note that these garments can all be found in a capsule wardrobe.
What Suit To Wear To A Job Interview
Ideally, your suit should be either navy blue or charcoal grey. It’s often believed that black suits are good for professional situations, but this is something of a misconception.
Meanwhile, charcoal or navy give off the air of reliability, credibility and trustworthiness. This is what you want a potential employer to feel when he or she looks at you for the first time.
You’ll likely need to follow business professional guidelines so try to avoid an overuse of patterns and details like ticket pockets or peak lapels. Therefore, the suit should have notched lapels and straight flap pockets.
While made-to-measure suits sound expensive, Indochino have successfully made it an excellent investment that offers unparalleled value for money.
Indeed, their custom suits can cost as little as $300! With a custom suit, you’ll be guaranteed a perfect fit, which we believe is paramount. After all, even an ill-fitting luxury suit delivers the wrong message.
Finally, you can also benefit from a $30 discount using the code “BESPOKEUNIT“, which is valid both online and in-store.
Prepare A Crisp Shirt
Choose either a white or light blue shirt ideally in a solid colour. Certain subtle patterns are fine for the office, it might be distracting for the interview itself. That said, you can wear different weaves such as a fine twill or herringbone.
Similarly, opt for a classic spread collar and make sure that it isn’t button-down. Additionally, we tend to lean towards barrel cuffs for your interview.
For some executive positions, a double “French” cuff would be fine. However, for junior positions, it might deliver the wrong message. Moreover, it opens up issues regarding your choice in cufflinks.Finding quality barrel cuff shirts can be challenging as most reputed brands will favour double cuffs. Yet, we’ve recently discovered Eton Shirts, a heritage Swedish brand.
Taking the Scandinavian minimalist route, their shirts all feature barrel cuffs with only a few subtle albeit elegant details. They’re the perfect choice for a job interview and offer an excellent investment for your professional wardrobe.
What Shoes To Wear To A Job Interview
Make sure they’re shined and otherwise in presentable condition. One of the best ways to tell if someone shows attention to detail is to look at his shoes. In fact, a lot of employers may intentionally do this for a first impression.
Should they be scuffed and in poor shape, that doesn’t speak well for you. Likewise, opting for a less formal or ornamented style like a brogue or a monk strap might give the wrong impression. Once you get the job, these styles are fine. Nevertheless, we’re working on first impressions here.
If you need new shoes, we have plenty of guides that can help. Still, we can recommend two brands right now that we love wearing for occasions like this. Firstly, Beckett Simonon is an excellent brand that offers superb value for money.
Their cap toe Oxfords are made from Argentinian calfskin with a Blake stitch construction. The best part is that they cost less than $200 and you can get a further 20% off with our code “BU20“. The only downside is that they’re made to order and can take several weeks to process.
Alternatively, we instead suggest Ace Marks if you’re in a hurry. They’re a little bit more expensive at $300 but they’re Italian-made and will arrive very quickly to your door.
Choose Your Accessories Wisely
You should wear a tie, pocket square, belt, and socks. If you wear jewellery, keep it to a simple dress watch and a wedding band, if applicable.
Your tie should be subtle yet elegant. Red, blue, or yellow are good colours but you can opt for anything that’s relatively conventional. However, avoid loud colours on this occasion.
Overall, you have the most leeway with blue in terms of shade, but keep red and yellow ties relatively muted in tone. As for patterns, basic stripes or pins are fine. If you think it might help, a university tie could be fine. Bear in mind, though, they will have read your résumé and might not appreciate the reminder.
In a job interview setting, your pocket square should be white and simply folded into a TV fold. Show just about a half inch in a straight horizontal line above the breast pocket.
Avoid puffy or elaborate folds as they’re quite distracting and may be considered too flashy. Similarly, bright colours and extravagant patterns may come off as too garish.
Belts should be simple and match your shoes in terms of colour. Brown belts don’t have to be the exact same shade of brown as your shoes, but they should be reasonably close.
Conversely, try to avoid braces for a job interview. You might be able to wear them later but they could give the wrong impression on this occasion.
What Socks To Wear
The basic rule of thumb is that socks should match your trousers. When you’re out on a date, feel free to eschew this rule in favour of something more fun, but in a job interview, grey pants get grey socks and navy pants get navy socks.
To avoid showing a bit of leg hair when you cross your legs, we suggest over-the-calf socks. These go high and also grip the calf to prevent them from falling down. After all, rumpled socks is an untidy look.
Boardroom Socks is a great family-business that specialises in these. They’re American-made from Merino wool in the James mill in North Carolina. Additionally, they’re only $14.95 a pair, which is excellent value given that they’re a heritage US brand.
Where To Buy Your Accessories
There are plenty of menswear haberdasheries where you can find quality accessories. In fact, most Jermyn Street shirt brands like Hawes & Curtis will often retail a wide variety of belts, ties, pocket squares, and cufflinks.
If you’re on a budget, we highly recommend that you check out The Tie Bar. They’re quite well-known thanks to their reputation for stocking a rich yet affordable selection of accessories for men. If you need it, they probably stock it!
Furthermore, their site is well-designed and allows you to coordinate the different items in your shopping cart so it’s makes the task quite convenient too. It’s a great destination for when you start out in the professional world.
How To Groom For A Job Interview
First, the basics: shower and brush your teeth the morning of your interview. You should be doing this regularly already, but a reminder never hurts.
Second, see our guide to grooming. It will answer any questions you have regarding hairstyles, beards, and moustaches. It will also answer many questions you didn’t even know you had.
For job interviews, you want to present a clean, tidy appearance. Get a haircut about a week beforehand so that it looks neat but natural at the interview.
If you keep facial hair, groom it the night before or the morning of, depending on the rate at which your beard grows. Do not wear stubble to an interview. Either have a well-kept beard or be completely clean shaven.
Be careful not to over-apply cologne. In fact, you actually should under-apply it as you want to keep your scent as subtle as possible.
Our guide to applying fragrances has a section dedicated to the office, which you can use as a reference. Additionally, we have another one detailing the top 10 best office fragrances that you could wear.
Pitfalls To Avoid On Interviews
Take a look at the picture below. Looks like a nice young man who’s gotten properly dressed for a job interview, right?
We admit that he did a halfway decent job. But that’s only halfway. Let’s take a look at the errors he made so that you don’t make the same ones. We’ll start from the top:
- Grooming: His hair is reasonably neat, but the stubble looks unkempt. While this may look fine at brunch after a bender, it’s a killer in a job interview. Either maintain a well-kept beard or shave that morning.
- Shirt collar: It’s not resting underneath the jacket as it should be. Details matter!
- Peak lapels: Though the ones pictured above are relatively inoffensive, it’s best to avoid wearing peak lapels to a job interview, especially in the United States. Fancy as they are, they will be more of a distraction during a interview than anything else.
- Tie knot: The knot is big and bulky and lacks a dimple underneath it. A four-in-hand or half-Windsor are perfectly good knots for job interviews, but they should both taper towards the bottom of the knot.
The point of dressing for an interview is not to look good so much as to demonstrate that you understand professional sartorial mores. Furthermore, dressing the right way will allow the interviewer to focus on you, your achievements, your personality, and what you can bring to the table for their organization.
To learn more about suits and other sartorial information visit our Suits Homepage.
Now that you have read our primer on dressing for a job interview, consider reading some of our related content: