The optimal way to look good and stand out is simple: do what others are doing – only do it better. This means you want to dress like yourself, but make sure it’s your best, most professional, and sophisticated self. It also means that your dress ideally should not be controversial. Your clothing should be conservative, tasteful, and neat while you exude confidence and competence– these are the hallmarks of upper-middle-class success. This means your dress will be business formal.
Another critical component of your “attire” is your overall grooming and appearance. In the first 5-10 seconds, your interviewer will begin to make decisions about you based on visual cues: your clothes, grooming, stance, walk, and even tone of voice. Therefore, even if your clothing may look more boring than what you usually wear, you have other ways to allow yourself to stand out.
- When in doubt, dress up, not down
- Clothing, grooming, and accessories should be conservative and not flashy
- Everything should be cleaned and pressed and fit correctly.
- This isn’t the time to flaunt your lifestyle or high fashion. Leave your personal preferences out of this, as they may potentially harm you.
Now, let’s discuss your attire.
A two-piece suit (avoid the vest) is the standard for interviews. Your pants and jacket/sports coat should be matching (an interview is not the time for mix and matching). When choosing your suit, you must focus on four things: fit, style, fabric, color.
- Invest in a tailor to touch up your suit. Your jacket should fit snugly around your chest with the freedom to move your arms. Your shoulder pads should end at the taper off your shoulders, and the sleeves should not extend past your knuckles when your arms are relaxed at your side. The back should be long enough to at least partially cover your tush. When the jacket is buttoned, you shouldn’t be able to fit more than a fist between your torso and the jacket. Suit pants should be loose enough to allow fluid movement but tailored enough to still show your form. Your pants should not be so long that they cover your heel but not so short that your ankles are completely visible.
- The best choice is a classic two-piece suit. The jacket should be single-breasted with two buttons, have a notched lapel, and regular flap pockets. Larger men should pick a double back vent to allow more significant movement while skinner men can wear a single back vent
- Choose wool or wool blend with up to 40% synthetic fiber. The best pattern is a solid pattern, but for those who want to stand out a bit, you can choose a pattern that is very subtle and would appear solid if seen from across the room. We recommend pinstripe or a very light plaid.
- To appropriately stand out, we recommend a navy-blue or gray color suit, but a solid black suit will also work.
Greater Influence Tip: Before you leave home for your interview, get a bright light, and inspect your suit from top to bottom. Look for stains, missing buttons, tags, dangling threads, tears, and remove those threads that keep the pockets sealed. Be sure to remove the thread that connects the back vent
Greater Influence Tip: When you arrive, examine your suit to make sure it survived. If you notice any wrinkles, steaming is the best way to remove them. DO NOT IRON YOUR SUIT. If you do not have a steamer, hang your suit in the bathroom while you shower.
Greater Influence Tip: If you do not have a suit, do your best to find one. If money is an issue, we recommend you visit your local boutique shops and thrift shops. Also, inventory at your local Jos A Bank is variable, and they often offer complete suits <$100. Finally, Azarman.com is a reputable option that has trendy suit options that are <$100.
Shirt and Tie
- Wear a long-sleeve, collared, button-up dress shirt. The cuffs should extend about a half-inch past your jacket sleeve, ending right before the start of the palm of your hand. The bottom of your shirt should be long enough that your shirt stays tucked in when you raise your arms or move around. Your collar should be loose enough that you can fit two fingers between the buttoned color and your neck to ensure that you are comfortable.
- Wear a tie, even if it’s typically not your style. Your tie can be a solid color, or you can wear patterns like repeating stripes, small polka dots, or repeating small insignias. Your “power colors” are red and navy. However, blue, beige, grey, dark green or dark red are okay; avoid bright colors, large patterns, or simple black ties. Be sure it doesn’t clash with the rest of your outfit. The tip of your tie should meet your belt (no short ties).
- DO NOT WEAR CLIP ON TIES– EVER. If you do not know how to tie a knot, youtube has several helpful tutorials.
Greater Influence Tip: Avoid stripes, loud/bright colors, and weird flashy designs.
Greater Influence Tip: Some people love bowties. Wearing them at an interview may show confidence and allow you to appear to have a higher fashion sense. However, they may give the impression that you are flashy, pretentious, or ostentatious. Our best advice is to avoid controversy, but you must do what feels best for you.
- Wear a plain, dark leather belt w/ a small buckle. It should be the same color and finish (matte or shiny) as your shoes. If you choose to wear suspenders, they should also match your shoes. Just remember that you do NOT wear both suspenders and a belt at the same time.
Shoes and socks
- Choose a comfortable dress shoe, traditionally leather, that aligns with your suit and belt. The most versatile colors are black, dark brown, or cognac. Be sure to buff or polish your shoes before your interview. Wearing dirty or worn out/excessive creased shoes can make your entire outfit look bad- Avoid this simple mistake.
- Wear plain socks that are the same color as your slacks and shoes. They should extend to mid-calf so that no skin shows when you sit down.
The general rule of thumb here is less is best. Limit your jewelry to a watch and wedding band if you’re married. If you choose to wear a watch, avoid anything ostentatious like a Rolex, a large dive watch, or one with a picture of Superman. Though it’s best to avoid lapel pins, tie clasps, or bracelets, some applicants prefer to have them; if you absolutely must, go for subtle, smaller patterns and designs. Allow the accessories to compliment your outfit
- Despite perceived social acceptability, it’s best for men to remove any earrings and cover and implanted jewelry if possible.
- If you wear eyeglasses, keep the frames standard and avoid fancy or unusual shapes and designs. Avoid tinted glasses since they place a barrier between you and interviewers. Remember to keep the lenses clean
- To look like a serious candidate, carry a small, zippered leather-covered portfolio that has all the materials you need. Make sure your tablet is fully charged. If you use a pen and paper, make sure your pen is classy and not a cheap one like the one you get from a drug rep’s free lunch.
it is best to be squeaky clean and conservative.
- You want to make sure your hair is clean and in its natural color. For minority applicants, interviews may not be the best time to wear a mohawk or to get a design cut into the side of your head. If your hair is long or in dreadlocks, you do NOT have to cut it! Simply make sure that it’s clean, tied back, and freshly re-twisted.
- If you have facial hair, you do not need to shave it off completely. Just make sure it is neatly trimmed. Avoid long goatees or handle-bar mustaches
- Keep any tattoos covered
- Trim and clean your nails
- Your smell should be minimal and pleasant; avoid wearing too much cologne or aftershave.
Now you have the keys to success!