Men’s interview dressing has been fairly static over the years. In fact, it’s pretty much the same whether you are applying for an entry-level position or for something higher up. The difference is that the entry-level guy isn’t expected to have as many or as expensive high-quality clothes. For a second or third interview, the new grad would wear different shirts and ties but might understandably trot out the same suit. Someone applying for a managerial role or something more senior could not do the same.
Here are some dos and don’ts for men’s interview fashion.
At a higher level, you need a minimum of two suits, starting with a solid navy and a solid dark gray. A serious solid won’t turn anyone off. You don’t want to be too showy, too strong or dress better than your interviewer. Your background, experience and personality should speak for you, not your clothes.
Avoid a double-breasted suit. A single-breasted suit is not only more current but always safe. Either a two- or three-button cut is fine, although a two-button style is a shade more classic. Fabric must be seasonally appropriate and properly pressed. Crisp and neat are keys when deciding what to wear.
Wear the navy suit for a first interview and the deep gray for a second interview. Remember, even though a black suit and a tan suit is a great addition to a man’s wardrobe, they are not interview-appropriate unless you are seeking a job in TV or some other glamour industry. For the third interview, try the subtle shadow-stripe suit or return to one of the earlier choices.
A blazer or sports jacket is almost always too casual for an interview. However, if you are seeking a position in academia, where professors may not have a suit, or if your interview extends to an evening social invitation, then you can show you are flexible enough to unwind and dress slightly differently. But stay with classic and traditional.
Shirts, Accessories and Grooming
For the first interview, a white shirt, not blue or ecru, in a business style is best. Wear a simple shirt collar, such as a traditional straight point or a slightly less dressy button-down, avoiding tab collars, pins or wide English spreads. Also avoid monograms or jaunty contrasting white-collar-and-cuffs. And no French cuffs.
Go with 100 percent cotton, no blends. The shirt should be crisp and white. Buy a new one if needed. Provided you choose a light shade, you might pair a blue shirt with the gray suit for your second interview.
The tie is extremely important, since it is the first thing someone notices in a man’s outfit. An all-over, neat pattern, a small dot or a classic stripe all work well. Avoid anything wild, overly bright or statement-making. For example, a bow tie is out of the question — even if this is your style. Wear a watch, but it shouldn’t be a sports watch.
To complete a professional image, black lace-up shoes are far better than casual penny loafers or anything with buckles or straps. Never underestimate the importance of a good shoeshine. And black socks only that are long enough to cover your ankles.