What to wear to a job interview to put your best foot forward
If there’s one occasion that will pop up for most men more than once throughout their adult lives, it’s a job interview. And if there’s one occasion where our recommendation for what to wear remains the same regardless of your stage in life, it’s a job interview. I’ve (successfully) interviewed at a restaurant, a law firm, and a fashion company, all wearing the same thing: a classic navy suit, a white shirt, a conservative tie and pocket square, and oxford shoes.
Since the outfit is so straightforward, let’s take a minute to focus on why these pieces. Put simply, you want your interview outfit to be a blank slate. Your interviewer is coming into this without knowing much about you and the point is for them to come away from the interview with a better idea of who you are.
It’s important that that conception comes from you and that the only thing your interviewer takes away from what you’re wearing is that you’re respectful of the expectations of an interview and are a presentable human being. You want your outfit to be sharp, but not to command the focus of the room – that focus should be on you and your accomplishments, after all.
Now let’s come back to respectful and presentable. In this case, respectful means that you need to show that the interview is worthwhile to you. If you show up dressed in jeans and a tee, even if that fully meets the dress code of the job you’re applying for, you aren’t showing a respectful amount of effort. So suit up.
Presentable hits the other notes – we all know that a suit alone doesn’t make you look good.
First, make sure that suit fits, and next, pay attention to what you’re wearing with it. Realize that “presentable” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and take the middle ground. Some folks might think it’s super cool if you come in rocking a floral shirt and a bright tie. But, on the other hand, there are definitely some folks who won’t.
There is literally no one will think a white shirt, dark tie and white pocket square look bad. Instead of taking a sartorial risk in order to stretch your sprezzy wings, keep it safe and save those swerves until you’ve got your foot solidly inside that door.
So here’s the formula: sharp enough to command and show respect, but otherwise as neutral as possible.
This show is about you, not your clothing! Navy suit. White dress shirt. Dark tie. White pocket square. Dark dress shoes and matching belt. No more, no less. That way, regardless of whether you get the offer or never hear from them again, you’ll know that it’s because of your qualifications, not your look.
Chime in: Share your best job interview looks and let us know if you’ve ever made a terrible sartorial mistake in one.