The crumbling of corporate dress codes has made dressing for work a lot more fun — but it’s made dressing for a job interview a helluva lot more fraught. Do you wear a pinstripe suit and tie? A casual blazer and chinos? A hoodie and flip-flops? Well, it depends on the job you’re interviewing for. (We’d argue that the last scenario depends largely on having a billion already in the bank.) With that in mind, here’s our take on how to tailor your look to the opportunity.
1. Start from the ground up: Shoes aren’t just the foundation of a man’s style, they’re a sign of your priorities. Invest in a quality pair and send the message that you’re in it for the long haul — a smart message to send in this context.
2. Have an expensive watch? Congrats, but leave it at home. You may have justified the purchase by telling yourself it’s an investment you can wear (that’s what we told ourselves!), but it’s not a good look when you’re rocking a vintage Rolex while the hiring manager’s wearing a Timex. Besides, the last thing you want anyone to be looking at during a job interview is a watch.
3. Do invest in a quality tie. Go for something elegant and understated. Save the “power red” for when you’re promoted into a corner-office position.
4. These days, overdressing for an interview is almost as big a crime as underdressing, so do your research. Applying to a bank or law firm? A navy or charcoal suit will send the right message. Not so if you’re aiming for a job in tech or a creative field. Figure out the dress code at the office in question, then pick a look that’s marginally — but not radically — more dressed up than the person you expect to be talking to.
5. Brightly colored socks? We love ‘em, but save those for your second week on the job.
6. Walk in knowing a little something about the person you’re talking to. Here, Google is you friend. Know if they spoke at a recent conference, or wrote a notable post on the company blog. But don’t ask them about the column they wrote for the college newspaper 15 years ago — you’re not trying to come off like a stalker.
7. Buy a nice notebook and use it during the discussion — it’ll make you appear attentive, and the details will be useful in writing a smart thank-you note. (And yes: Write a thank-you note, on nice stationery, and make sure it arrives within 24-48 hours of the interview.)
8. Breath mints are your friend.
9. Easy on the hair gel, sporto. But you knew that.