Appropriate Interview Attire For Men (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 3, 2020

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When you’re preparing for an interview, attire choice is a significant consideration for men.

Although there are other things to prepare for, such as the types of questions your interviewer may ask or how to speak to your resume, your outfit is one of the most important things to prepare. Your choice can show a lot about you and help your hiring manager or recruiter make an initial impression when you walk through the door or log on for a video interview.

It’s important to remember that the dress code may and should differ depending on the job you’re applying for. Not every interview will require a suit and tie. In fact, if you walk into a company with a more casual dress code, your appearance in more formal attire might be off putting.

Doing your research is crucial when making a decision on what to wear for your job interview.

Why is it important to dress well for an interview?

When you arrive for your job interview, the first few minutes are actually some of the most crucial. Although we may have all been taught not to judge a book by its cover, the opposite is normally true. When you meet with your interviewer, the first few seconds of time spent together will build their initial impression of you.

If you enter the room with inappropriate attire, it might be difficult to overcome the initial bad impression, even once you get into your interview. Of course, the rest of the interview will be critical as they probe for more information about your experience, skills, work ethic, and more, but kicking things off on the right foot with the appropriate professional attire, is a sure way to make a stellar first impression.

You might be thinking that all you need to prepare for to do well in your interview is writing a flawless cover letter, preparing your resume, and coming up with answers for common interview questions.

However, the importance of the right attire can simply not be overlooked.

The clothes you wear should be considered in all respects before you go into an interview. You never know what small details the interviewer may gather from you based on your initial appearance.

This is a chance to sell yourself. Wearing an outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable will enhance your ability to answer questions more easily and give you the confidence to talk about yourself in a positive light.

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What should men wear on a job interview?

First, it’s important to find out about the company’s work setting and culture. See if you can get a good feel for the office premises and style that your colleagues abide by. Depending on the industry, you can come across less formal working styles, which means you can absolutely be a bit more casual in your attire for an interview, while still maintaining professionalism.

You may also come across a more formal setting, where you may need to consider wearing something more formal for your interviews, such as a tie or a suit jacket. For example, jobs in industries like legal, lobbying, consulting, or private banking will always require a more formal dress code to hold true to their traditions.

For men, you may not have a ton to choose from in your wardrobe. There are a few different things you should have on hand to make sure you pick the appropriate clothing for your interview. Below are tried and true wardrobe components that will give you a step up on your job interview.

  • Button-down shirts. Button-down shirts can be worn for interviews in jobs that consider themselves business casual. A well-ironed button-down shirt can make a positive first impression, especially when paired with a color-coordinated tie and professional slacks. The tie can be used to dress up the button-down shirt. However, if you’re entering a more casual workspace, feel free to leave the tie at home.

  • Textured blazer. A textured blazer is a welcome addition to any man’s wardrobe, such a tweed or corduroy. This can give off a professional appearance while still keeping with your individual style if this is something you like. Always make sure to pair your blazer with an appropriate button-down, a tie, and appropriate slacks.

  • Solid color blazer. Consider a solid color blazer if a textured blazer is not the right fit for you. Solid color blazers are a great option, as they can be worn with a variety of different shirts and ties. Putting on a blazer can transform an outfit from business casual to business formal in seconds.

  • Ties. As most men know, the variety of ties in the market is endless. For a job interview, it’s the safest bet to stay simple. Employers who are looking for someone with a professional, clean look may not be as amused by a humorous tie as you are. However, for more business casual settings, you have a wider variety of options to go with. If the company you are applying for has obvious brand colors, you can consider choosing a color that matches that for a great conversation starter.

  • Sweaters. For those who opt for a button-down but don’t want to wear a blazer, a sweater can be a great option. Pairing a sweater over a button-down shirt can be used in business casual interviews for a simple, clean, yet professional look. Consider solid color sweaters, as the button-downs typically have a pattern and you don’t want to pair two patterns together.

  • Suits. Having a well-tailored suit is important for any man’s wardrobe. Whether you prefer dark or light suits is up to personal preference. Either of these options works for professional business formal settings. It’s a great option for an interview if you know the industry is traditional and the work culture is formal.

  • Loafers. Regardless of whether or not you are entering a casual work environment, you should never plan to wear open-toed shoes to a job interview. Loafers are a safe a common choice for me and match with all of the items listed above. A nice solid pair of brown or black loafers can enhance your wardrobe and really make your footwear shine in an interview.

  • Polo shirts. Long button-down shirts for folks who reside in warmer climate areas might not be ideal. In that case, polo shirts are a great compromise. They are professional and paired with a nice pant, can be a perfect addition to an outfit for an interview.

  • Appropriate and simple accessories. Don’t overlook your accessories. Socks should be plain white or black, and a belt should always be on your pants, especially if they have a looser fit. Consider wearing a watch or other appropriate articles of jewelry to accent your outfit. You can also consider carrying a briefcase or an appropriate bag to hold your resume or portfolio, if applicable.

Tips for how to dress before the interview

When getting prepared for your interview, there are a few different steps you should take to make sure you are adequately prepared. It might be tempting to just throw on something you find in the closet and walk out the door, but oftentimes you may overlook small things that might make you look unpolished or unprofessional to your potential employer.

Below are a few things to consider before you leave for your interview

  • Personal grooming. Be sure to pay attention to your personal grooming before you even get dressed. Many would be surprised to learn that this is the most significant thing men tend to overlook. Pay attention to your hair, the cut, and that you’ve neatly styled it before your interview.

    Your facial hair should be freshly trimmed, preferably in the morning of your interview. Your fingernails should be neat and tidy without dirt underneath them.

    Additionally, if you are considering a cologne, be sure to spray only the necessary amount. It may not be a visual deterrent, but if you are in a single room with an interviewer and bring an unpleasant or overpowering scent with you, it might be off putting before you even start the interview.

  • Take care of your outfit. Nothing is worse than showing up in the appropriate attire only to look down and find your shirt or slacks wrinkled or stained. It’s very important to prepare ahead of time and either send out your shirt, tie, and slacks for dry cleaning or wash them yourself.

    If you are washing these items of clothing yourself, make sure you bring out the iron after they are washed to ensure you walk into your interview wrinkle-free.

  • Try on your outfit ahead of time. To ensure you are sending the right message with your outfit, it’s important to try on your clothing ahead of time, especially if you haven’t worn the clothing in a while. Check the fit and make sure you are comfortable. Do this a few days before the interview just in case the fit is not right and you need to get to a store to purchase something new.

    The right fit will make the right impression and give you a clean and polished look like a professional.

  • Do your research. As mentioned above, understanding the work environment and culture is important to know how to dress appropriately. Sometimes your potential employer may provide instructions on what to wear, but if they don’t, it’s important to do your own research. You should be able to get clues from their website or their social pages.

  • Choose your colors carefully. Color choice can vary depending on your skin tone and color preference, but there are a few color choices that are always safe options. Blue, black, gray, and white are your safest options. While not necessarily the most exciting color choices, they are clean and professional.

    Colors to avoid include orange, brown, red, or anything multi-colored. Whether you are aware of it or not, these colors can send the wrong message to interviewers, either consciously or subconsciously.

    It’s best practice to stay away from these colors for job interviews.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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