Snagging an in-person job interview is just the first step. If you want the job, you’ll have to impress during your interview.
You might be fresh out of college and looking for your first real job, or you might be established in a career and looking to move up.
Whatever the reason, you might need help with your interview wardrobe and I’m here to help. While other style rules may have already been covered, this is specifically for job seekers.
College was an experience you won’t soon forget and you’ve made promises to classmates about getting together you probably will not keep. It was a safe haven and you felt secure behind the walls of your institution, but all of that is over and you’ve got to get to work. This means you should have interviews set up and if you don’t, you’ll need to work on that first.
Once you’ve secured an interview, you are going to want to make a good impression on your potential soon-to-be-boss. Proper attire for men would be a suit and tie, but not just any suit or tie. Remember, this is your only chance to make a first impression, so stand out.
The Classics Never Go Out of Style
For a first interview, I would suggest a navy blue pinstriped suit simply because it’s a classic pattern that demands respect. But without a proper fit, it’ll look more like you’re playing dress up and less like you’re ready to conquer your new position.
For larger gentlemen, you’ll want to go with a regular cut, but if you are on the thinner side, go with a slim or even trim fit.
Don’t Play it Safe with a Boring Shirt
The next thing would be a plain shirt in either blue or pink as white is boring. And you’ll want make sure it’s a spread collar and 100% cotton.
Next comes the tie. Now here’s where many of you get lost. For one thing, if you have a modern fit suit with narrow lapels, go with a skinny tie and vice versa for wider lapels. Learn to tie a half or a full Windsor knot because you need to fill up the space around your neck.
No novelty, polka dots or floral ties. When in doubt, go with horizontal stripes. Blue, yellow, or burgandy are all nice options for an interview and won’t be too distracting. Remember, you’re trying to sell your future employer on your skills, distracting them will be a problem.
Take the Weather into Consideration
If the weather turns bad, make sure you have protection. Either a raincoat or a wool overcoat will work. These should fall just above the knee and stay with classic cuts.
Burberry makes suitable rain jackets which generally run $1000 to $2000 – an investment that will last you years. Wool, cashmere or camel hair topcoats can run anywhere from $500 to $5000, but again, a quality coat will last you a lifetime.
Shoes Play a Big Role
Get your shoes shined. Scuffy, worn down shoes won’t bode well for your potential new employer. And make sure to match your shoes appropriately with your suit color. For example, never wear black shoes with a navy blue suit. Chesnut brown shoes will look best with the blue.
If you don’t have any dress shoes, invest in a quality pair. Allen Edmonds makes a nice pair and will only run you around $300 to $400.
Be Careful with Your Accessories
Keep jewelry to a minimum and if you are going to incorporate a pocket square, don’t try to match your tie. Contrary to popular belief, it’ll look better if you go with the direct opposite pattern. Or even go with a solid pocket square with a patterned tie.
Forget the leather briefcase and go with an over the shoulder man bag and don’t be afraid to invest a little bit of money in the bag you choose.
Finally, top everything off with a classic watch. This doesn’t have to be a Rolex or Omega, but something in between like a Tissot or Movado.
Scoring a Second Interview
If the job you’re aiming for has another round of interviews, you still want to look your best, but no suit is required. Instead, go with a solid blazer and slacks for a casual vibe – navy with tan or grey slacks.
Again, many people make this mistake, but with grey slacks you should wear brown shoes, not black. You’re not at the country club, so don’t try and pull off a polo shirt just yet. Go with a straight-collar shirt, but instead of a solid, try a gingham plaid for a nice change of pace.
If you’re applying at a start-up or a tech company, like Google or Amazon, you can get away with second interview apparel and probably even go tie-less.
Remember, you don’t have the job yet, so don’t dress like you do. Instead, dress to impress.
[image credit: NBC]