If you’re going to an interview, it’s important you dress the part so that the interviewer isn’t distracted by your clothing but focused on your resume. Here are some tips for putting together a great interview outfit.
While your resume and your job experience certainly say a lot about you, it may not always be enough to get you hired. This is because interviewers, just like everyone else, often make snap decisions based on what someone looks like. Even though we’re always told never to judge a book by it’s a cover, everyone does subconsciously. So if you’re a man going in for an interview, here are some tips on how to dress to impress your potential employer and make certain they don’t disregard you based on your appearance.
The Right Suit Makes the Man
When interviewing, almost all employers want to see a man in a nice pair of slacks and a jacket. Of course, if you’re interviewing for a job as a mechanic or where you’ll be outdoors most of the time, a suit may be a bit much. For the most part, however, you’ll want an interview suit. Most stylists recommend going with a solid black, grey, or navy because these are neutral colors. In the debate on single- verses double-breasted suits, the single is often considered a better interview jacket. Why? It’s simple and understated. You don’t really want the interviewer to notice your clothing at all, so the basic design is best.
The Dress Shirt
The dress shirt you wear with your suit should complement it without standing out. The smart men’s shirt range should be wide enough to include a few shirts that can be mixed and matched with each suit. A crisp white shirt is the most neutral and goes with everything, but a light blue or off-white is also a good choice. Black will stand out, and some people simply do not like the look of a black shirt worn with any color suit jacket except white. Avoid pinstripes, shirts with different colored collars, and collars with monograms. Many experts also suggest avoiding shirts with French cuffs since wearing cufflinks can make it look like you’re showing off.
According to some interviewers, the very first thing they notice when a man walks into a room is his tie. This makes it the most important part of your outfit. While some people’s instinct may be to go with a bright color or pattern so that it contrasts with a dark suit, don’t go too crazy. You want a tie that matches both your suit and dress shirt. A solid color, small pattern, small dots, or two-color striped tie all work well. Don’t wear a matching pocket square in your jacket pocket—like cufflinks, this comes off as a little pretentious. Your interviewer might also wonder if you’re going to a wedding after the interview.
Finally, your shoes are the last major piece of your wardrobe. You want to go with something conservative: black or dark brown shoes work well. Wear dark socks that blend in. Do not wear sneakers to any professional interview. They may be okay for interviews to which you won’t be wearing a suit, but for the most part, you need to always wear dress shoes. Make certain they look nice, too. Get them shined if they’re looking scuffed.
Once you’ve gotten a nice interview outfit picked out (perhaps from the Lexington menswear collection), you can add a few accessories to it. But again, keep it conservative. A nice watch is a good extra, as is a simple tie bar. If you wear a belt, which is recommended, keep it simple. Later, when comparing applicants, you want the interviewer to remember you as the one with the experience, not the guy who was wearing the excessively large belt or the weird tie bar.
The Fit is Important
It’s not enough to have all of the pieces of your interview outfit match. The shirt and suit have to fit you well. If you’ve lost or gained weight, you may need to go shopping for new clothes. A poorly fitting suit is an instant turn-off to interviewers since it shows a lack of attention to detail. Make sure shirt and jacket sleeves and the pant legs are all long enough and that the shirt and jacket aren’t too tight or too loose.