How to Choose a Job Interview Outfit (for Men)

  • August 30, 2017
  • ExperChat Staff

From preparing your responses to researching background on the organization, a lot of preparation goes into a job interview. One area that demands your full attention is your wardrobe. Sure, your skills, experience, and infectious presence are important. However, a killer suit is the one aspect of your prep that can seal the deal. If you dress well, you’ll make a solid first impression. Here are some guidelines to help you decide what to wear for a job interview. 

Rules for Every Environment

Whether you’re interviewing at a brand new startup or an established corporation, there are some rules that always apply. First, research the company culture. Is the workplace conservative and traditional? Is it modern and laid back? You can read reviews on career sites like Glassdoor or ask the hiring manager for the inside scoop.  
Once you understand the dress code, make sure your look is tailored to perfection. If you don’t have time to squeeze in a visit to your favorite tailor for some new duds, only wear clothing that fits you correctly. Clothing that’s too tight or too loose sends a message that you don’t know how to dress yourself. That’s the last thing you want someone to think when they hold your future in their hands.
Also, stay on top of your grooming. Though it’s not directly related to your clothing, your grooming factors into the overall effectiveness of your look. Be sure to clean up your beard’s neck and cheek lines, trim your nose and ear hairs, clean your nails, and use a splash of cologne that’s masculine but not overpowering.

Traditional or Conservative Environment

If your big interview is taking place at a place like a law firm or financial institution, it’s safe to say the environment is conservative at best. Workplaces like these are chock-full of suiting purists who avoid trend in favor of the classics. You should follow their lead. Keep your colors muted and neutral—navy blue, black, and charcoal gray are the suitable choices. Your suit’s cut should be modern but not trendy. Go for a slim leg but not skinny. Stick with a one- or two-button jacket. Finally, only wear traditional shoe choices (i.e. the wingtip, oxford). The goal of this look is to prove you’ll have no problem adjusting to the culture.

Business Casual Environment

For business casual environments, usually the more creative industries like publishing and design, you have more freedom. Your day’s work will be less predictable, and the same goes for your interview look. Feel free to wear suiting separates as long as your look is cohesive (i.e. blazer and trousers rooted in the same color family, one piece that stands out more to add contrast). Play with color in your accessory and dress shirt choices. You can even get away with denim for this kind of interview but take caution when going this route. Choose something neutral like indigo blue selvedge. Still stick to classic shoes like the oxford. The key here is to relax your look but not so much that you seem uninterested.

Startup Environment

Startups are tricky because they’re less established and don’t abide by a standard set of rules in their everyday business. Therefore, pinning down rules for interview style is difficult. This is a scenario in which your pre-interview research is crucial. Some startups deal with a more seasoned clientele while others are hardly ever customer-facing. To make the right impression, try to find a balance between business casual and casual style.

Dark denim, a dress shirt, and a blazer or cardigan work as a great combo. Or keep it simple with a pair of dark, slim chinos and a white dress shirt.  Trade in your traditional shoes for low-top, canvas sneakers, but make sure they’re clean—impeccably so. You want your look to show that you’re up for the unpredictability of the startup world, and that you’re not tied to the structured ways of corporate culture.

Like your résumé, references, and skills, your interview outfit plays a huge part in whether you get the job. Make sure you spend time building the perfect look to land the role of your dreams.

If you need personalized outfit advice, our Experts can help. Find an Expert here and book an appointment today.

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