Dressing for Success: What to Wear for a Job Interview for Men
We’re all familiar with the expression, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” This becomes a little more literal when interviewing for a new position. Of course you want to dress for the job you want, and then some. Your appearance should match your ambition. You want the interviewer to look at you and think, “Wow, he looks like one heck of a man! I bet he would be a great asset to our company.” (Because you are, duh.)
You’ve got the ability. You’ve got the expertise. You’ve got a killer resume. All you need to really seal the deal is the right outfit. We get it, you’re a busy guy and “possible interview attire” isn’t exactly at the top of the list of things you think about before you go to bed at night, but it is important. (This is where we come in.)
Here you will read about a few key pieces that when paired properly, can give you the extra boost of confidence you need to go in and kick butt. (Broken down into 3 steps- just to make it easy.)
STEP ONE: SUIT UP
Right now you’re probably thinking, “Every guy going into this interview is going to be wearing a suit. What’s so special about that?” And to that we say, it’s not the suit that makes the man- but the man that makes the suit. So to answer your question, YOU do. By choosing a suit that reflects your personality, style, and all around greatness, you’re already setting yourself apart from the rest of the applicants (just by being you.)
A couple things to remember when choosing a suit for an interview:
- This is an interview. It’s best to stick to a basic color scheme. Classic black is always a good choice. When interviewing for a more casual company, gray can be a good alternative. Navy blue is also a great up and coming color choice; paired with a brown belt and matching dress shoes gives it a stylish and sleek appearance. White, khaki, and patterned suits might be trending on the runways, but for the sake of first impressions- let’s stick to the basics.
- Accent and accessorize. It may be best to keep it basic with the suit color, but accenting with a pop of color, or a lightly patterned tie is a great way to express yourself- while maintaining professional. (We’ll talk a little more about this in the next section.)
- Be true to you. It’s great to step out of your comfort zone, but make sure you pick a suit that makes you feel good, no actually, GREAT. A good suit is meant to empower, not make you uncomfortable.
- Make sure it’s the right fit. NO MATTER WHAT. This is the most important aspect of your suit. Good fit is essential to appear well put together. You may think that employers won’t notice if your jacket is a little big in the shoulders, or your pants are a little too short- but they do. And you’ll feel weird and that goes against our main objective, which is making you feel (and look) awesome.
STEP TWO: ACCENT AND ACCESSORIZE
Dress shirt. Shoes. Tie. Belt. Watch. This is your chance to give your basic suit a little more to say, by adding a little bit of “you”.
Here are some easy ways to add a little style to your look (without going overboard).
- Don’t be afraid to wear an accent colored, or even a patterned, dress shirt. These can add a little flare to your suit without being distracting to the employer. Choose colors that complement you and make you feel more like a million bucks and less like you’re on your way to your senior prom. If you do a patterned shirt, choose a solid tie (and vise versa).
- Choose the right tie. Are you a narrow or wide tie guy? Do you like bright ties or patterns? This is your chance to get a little creative. Narrow ties are trendy and sleek, while wide ties are timeless and classic. Whatever tie you do choose, make sure it hits the top of your belt and does not clash with your dress shirt. Remember: Don’t over think it. Choose what looks and feels the best. You’ve got this.
- Shoes, belts, and watches. As far as shoes go, Wing Tips are a classic choice. You can even go bolder with a pair of brown wing tips to complement your navy blue suit. Just make sure you wear a brown belt to match. The same goes with black: black shoes, black belt. I don’t normally suggest wearing brown shoes with your black suit, but if you are feeling bold and can make it work- go for it. The main objective is for your shoes and belt to match.
A watch is a great accessory too. Quality is important, but make sure it’s not too flashy. Don’t forget to match your socks to your pants. Patterned socks may be “in” and totally professional, but for the initial interview let’s stay classic. (Feel free to wear your argyle socks to the office once you get the job!)
STEP THREE: CONFIDENCE IS KEY
The last and most important step of getting ready for your big interview is confidence. You’re prepared, you’ve worked hard to get here, and now you’re dressed the part. Take a good look in the mirror. Yes, you do look great. Now practice your confident smile. Okay, you’re ready now.
Time to go in and show those employers what you’re made of. But be careful, confidence is quiet. Let your ability and experience speak for itself. There’s a thin line between showing what an assET you can be vs. what an…(You get the point.)
Like we said, it’s not the outfit that makes the man- but the man that makes the outfit. You were already going to kick butt, but now you’re going to kick butt in style.
Check out Cladwell.com for custom style recommendations and your free, personal roadmap to dress better.
Special thanks to Chris Merchich and Blake Smith from Cladwell.com for their awesome advice! Please make sure to visit their site for a personalized experience for your styling needs. Both Chris and Blake graduated from Hillsdale College in 2007.