Men's Guide: Dress to Get Hired

By George F Franks III

     One of the most misunderstood elements of any face-to-face interview is wearing the proper attire and associated grooming. This overview is based on over thirty years of experience being interviewed, interviewing and speaking with hiring executives. While the "rules" may vary by region and industry, they are a good guideline for anyone interviewing for a new position whether entry level or for the corner office.

     Suit. If you do not have a suit, you need to purchase one. Traditional style in blue or gray solid. Avoid stripes or plaids. Avoid light colors. Have it fitted by a tailor to make certain in fits properly in the back, shoulders, sleeves and trouser cuffs. No brass buttons, those are for sport coats. If you already have a suit, make sure it fits, is professionally cleaned and pressed and has all the buttons. 100% wool is best. Wool/synthetic combination with more wool than synthetic is next. Avoid 100% synthetic as they do not breathe, are too warm or cold and tend to shine.

     Shirt. White or light blue. 100% cotton is best. Straight color works best with a neck tie. Button down collars tend to be informal and viewed by some as too prep school. The shirt should not be new out of the packaging. Wear it once and have it washed and ironed or take it to a professional cleaner. Do not leave the collar stays in the collar, remove them and insert them before wearing it. Avoid monograms on the cuff and stay away from cuff links unless you are interviewing for a "C level" position.

     Tie. Wear a long tie and not a bow tie unless you are a pediatrician or a professor. 100% silk ties look and knot the best. The tie should be traditional meaning not too thin but not too wide either. Blue or maroon work well with both blue and gray suits. Small patterns such as dots, squares or triangles or circular geometrics are best. Stripes are acceptable but should be traditional colors blue/white/red, red/white/blue, blue/yellow/red and so on. Avoid browns, greens, oranges and purples. Never wear a black tie except to a funeral. If you do not know how to tie one, a number of web sites provide step by step directions. Pre-tied ones are for security personnel for the obvious reasons.
Shoes. Black. Lace-up shoes are best. Slip-on shoes are second best. Leather. Make sure they are shined and in good repair. Avoid tassels, buckles, snaffles, hardware and logos for interviews. The shoes should not have elastic or Velcro anywhere on them. The shape of the toe should be traditional meaning not square and not pointed. If the shoes look like sneakers or slippers then they are wrong for an interview.

     Belt. Black leather with a traditional brass or silver colored buckle. You must wear a belt with your trousers. Suspenders also referred to as braces are acceptable only if you are interviewing for a job with an investment back or a "C level" position.

     Socks. Black or very dark blue or gray. No holes. No patterns. No logos. Regardless of what the fashion advertisements show, you must wear socks.

     Personal grooming and jewelry. Get a haircut before the interview but nothing dramatic or distracting. Facial hair is always controversial but just makes sure it is trimmed and neat. No facial jewelry. No sunglasses. No cologne. If you wear a watch wear a simple one that is not too flashy or distracting. The only ring you should wear is a wedding band if married. Do not wear a college ring to the interview unless you graduated from a service academy and are interviewing with a major defense contractor. Do not wear any pins, necklaces or bracelets to an interview.

     While following the tips outlined above will not guarantee you the job, if you are qualified and interview well the will on enhance the odds of you going from candidate to employee.
George F. Franks, III is President and Principal Consultant of Franks Consulting Group, a career, leadership and management consulting practice. George has over thirty years of experience working with companies of all sizes plus not-for-profit organizations and individuals.
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