As much as we’d all love to be recruited or spend our years fending off head hunters, at some point in your life, you’re going to have to go in for a job interview. Regardless of whether it’s a technicality to comply with HR law or you’re interviewing with a company that truly wants to meet candidates face-to-face, the interview carries a measure of importance and you’ll want to dress accordingly.
You want to wear a suit. Whether you’re applying for a Wall Street position, a fry cook, or anything in between, a suit it going to communicate that you take yourself seriously. You’ll hear arguments from all sorts of men telling you that, in their field, wearing a suit to an interview is overkill and communicates that you don’t understand the company or industry culture. Don’t believe them. The purpose of wearing a suit is to convey respect, not communicate that you will know how to fit in. You can do that with the way you speak, your body language, and your resume/portfolio. Your best choices are either gray or navy. Black can be too formal and other colors are too attention-seeking.
Wear a dress shirt, and for the love of common sense, iron the damn thing. You cripple yourself by wearing business clothing in a sloppy way. The contrast proves you have no idea how to dress up and implies you’re inconsistent in other areas as well.
Throw on a great pair of dress shoes. Remember that there is a large difference between shoes that look appropriate and those that look great. You want the latter. Depending on the industry in which you are interviewing you’ll want either black or brown shoes. Black is more formal and should be reserved for more conservative businesses, while brown is more unique and is better suited for creative fields.
Keep everything conservative. Unless you’re going into the clothing industry, you don’t want to look like you just walked out of a #menswear blog. Keep your tie solid, ditch the pocket square (or wear one in plain white), avoid french cuffs (unless you’re already at VP status), and wear a decent pair of dress socks. The purpose of the suit is to communicate something about you, too many details and it will take over the conversation itself.
Comb your hair in a conservative way. It doesn’t matter how you normally wear it. You can even go back to your typical style on the first day and from there on out, but keep it clean and simple at the interview so it’s not a distraction.
Shave. Even if you have a beard, trim up your neck and cheeks. Odds are you don’t look like the model you think you do when you’re rocking the five o’clock shadow. A job interviewer doesn’t care how sexy you look, they care how sloppy you appear.
That’s it. Wear simple, appropriate clothing that fits you well and makes you the center of the conversation. Let your personality show through in other ways and you’ll be walking out with an offer in hand.