Men’s Interview Dress Tips

Men’s interview dressing has been fairly static over the years. In fact, it’s pretty much the same whether you’re applying for an entry-level position or for something higher up. The difference is that the entry-level guy isn’t expected to have as many — or as expensive — high-quality clothes. For a second or third interview, the new grad would wear different shirts and ties but might understandably trot out the same suit; someone applying for a managerial role or something more senior could not do the same.

So what are the overall dos and don’ts for men’s interview fashion? Check out this guide to colors, fabrics and presentation.

Suit Style

At a higher level, you need a minimum of two suits, starting with a solid navy and a solid dark gray. Unlike a swaggering pinstripe, a serious solid won’t turn anyone off. You don’t want to seem too showy, come on too strong or dress better than your interviewer. Your background, experience and personality should speak for you, not your clothes.

Avoid a double-breasted suit; a single-breasted one is not only more current but always safe. Either a two- or three-button cut is fine, although a two-button style is a shade more classic. Fabric must be seasonally appropriate and properly pressed. Crisp and neat are key when deciding what to wear.

Wear the navy suit for a first interview and the deep gray for a second interview. An important note: Even though a black suit and a tan suit are two great additions to a man’s wardrobe, neither is interview-appropriate unless you’re seeking a job in TV or some other glamour industry. Should you get to a third interview, you might go with a subtle shadow-stripe suit or return to one of the earlier choices. This is often a second meeting with someone you met in only one of the first interviews, so wear the suit that person did not see.

A blazer or sports jacket is almost always too casual for an interview. Still, a blazer and dress slacks do have their place. If you’re seeking a position in academia, where professors may not even own a suit, or if your interview extends to an evening social invitation, you’ll want to show you are flexible enough to unwind and dress in a slightly different manner. But stay with what’s classic and traditional: navy blazer, gray dress pants, perhaps a blue or subtly striped shirt, and a quiet tie. The location may be different, but the approach is the same.

Shirts, Accessories and Grooming

For the first interview, a white shirt, not blue or ecru, in a business style is best. Wear a simple shirt collar, such as a traditional straight point or a slightly less dressy button-down, avoiding tab collars, pins or wide English spreads. Also avoid monograms or jaunty contrasting white-collar-and-cuffs. And no French cuffs, which will help you avoid any cufflink mistakes.

Above all, go with 100 percent cotton, no blends. The shirt should be as crisp and white as possible. It might even be worth investing in a new shirt. Provided you choose a light shade, you might pair a blue shirt with the gray suit for your second interview.

The tie is extremely important, since it is the first thing someone notices in a man’s outfit. An all-over, neat pattern, a small dot or a classic stripe all work well. Avoid anything wild, overly bright or statement-making. For example, a bow tie is out of the question — even if this is your style, save it for later. Forget pocket squares. And minimize jewelry. Certainly wear a watch, but not a sporty running watch or a Rolex.

To complete a professional image, black lace-up shoes are far better than casual penny loafers or anything gimmicky with buckles or straps. Never underestimate the importance of a good shoeshine. And black socks only, ones that are long enough to cover your ankles if you cross your legs but not bulky.

Clean nails; trimmed and freshly combed hair; well-knotted tie (ideally with a dimple); pressed pants; and an ironed, neatly tucked-in shirt are as important as choosing the right clothes. Looking polished says positive things about your business judgment. Have a real pen handy as well as a clean handkerchief in your pocket.

A man can often adjust his wardrobe to express his personal style and individuality, but this almost never applies to job interviews. Here it is crucial to concentrate on your goal of getting the job. You are not trying to impress anyone with your distinctiveness or flair. That can come later — after you get the job.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask

Finally, it never hurts — and can help a great deal — to ask during your preliminary phone discussion, “By the way, what should I be wearing?” or “What is your dress code?” If the answer is business casual, which is not likely, take that advice with a grain of salt. You never know if your face-to-face interviewer will have another meeting that day that requires him to be more formally dressed. If that happens and you’re dressed more casually, you are immediately at a disadvantage. Better to dress up than down is a good rule.

Back

What Clients Say About Patrice & Associates

  • Duke Witte was great to work with from the beginning.

    He took my resume and made it a masterpiece. He followed that up with coaching, advice, and mentoring through the entire process including following up with me well over 60 days of employment. He listened to what I was looking for and found me a wonderful fit. I have been working in hospitality on and off since 1993 and I can say without hesitation this was the best process of job acquisition I have ever had. He found me a company I can call home. I understand being skeptical but this company, and more specifically Duke delivered on his promise to me. I am grateful to have had a chance to work with such an unwavering professional. I would and will continue to recommend Patrice & Associates as a premiere recruiting company. Thank you, Thomas Showalter   Duke Witte was great to work with!
  • Carly was very amazing!!!

    She worked and understood my situation, potential and needs.  She knew what I was looking for, what my options were, and she never offered fake leads or over or under-qualified positions.  Carly is a great asset to your company.  She is very polite, welcoming  and a professional individual.

    I once again thank her for her efforts and time to land me an opportunity which suits my skills and needs.   Thank you. Harshesh patel. Carly was very amazing!!!
  • I am grateful for Milton's help...

    I would like to give thanks to Milton Sallee, he definitely took the time make sure that I was ready for my interview. By just coaching me form start to end, and I believe the extra training he gave me was definitely the most helpful. He represents his client well.  I am grateful for everything that he has done and I can't wait till I start with with me new career. Thanks for your help, Anthony V. Branch II I am grateful for Milton's help...
  • Stacie is one of the best recruiters that I have ever worked with!

    She is very professional, resourceful, thorough, prompt, efficient, and engaged. She is full of so much passion and drive. She had my best interest at heart throughout our three month process (we were only engaged with one concept the entire time). I began the process with a wealth of knowledge and experience, but Stacie was still able to add tons of value to my profile and preparation throughout the entire process. Stacie keeps in contact with me on a regular basis, even during my training. She played an essential role in me joining a great organization. Stacie is a great asset, and I am grateful that our paths crossed. I give her a five star rating!   Sincerely, Joshua Towbridge Stacie is one of the best recruiters that I have ever worked with!
  • Jonathan Litt was amazing!

    He was there step by step. I never felt that I was alone in this process . I received constant feedback and updates. And within a few short weeks I had offers .  Patrice and Associates were instrumental in my job transition. Thank you, Rodney Powell Jonathan Litt was amazing!