What To Wear to an Interview: A Guide for Men

Feeling confident, and doing well in an interview starts with preparation… and a great interview outfit that you feel comfortable in. When you receive that exciting invite, take note of the detail, paying particular attention to anything you need to do ready for the interview and what the formality is. Is it going to be a formal interview at the company offices, or is it more of an informal chat over a coffee in a local café. This is important when deciding what to wear and making sure you don’t underdress…or even overdress…

Be sure to fully research the industry in which you are applying to for the typical dress code expectations, as well as getting to know the company as best you can – you’ll want to impress, whilst looking like you’ll fit right in.

Nailing some answers to typical interview questions, as well as recalling some specific examples of your best work can really help you feel confident going in. Make some notes as a prompt in case your mind goes blank – it happens to us all – and talk in your own words, rather than memorising stock answers you’ve found online.

The following items of clothing are suitable in most interview situations:

  • Chinos
  • Smart shirt – white if you’re wearing it with a tie or a bold colour if not
  • A suitable tie – either one colour or a simple pattern, nothing novelty
  • Blazer
  • Suit – navy or grey are a good choice
  • Smart sweater if needed
  • Belt – either black or brown
  • Watch – this shows you’re conscious about time keeping
  • Smart shoes – black or brown and make sure they’re polished!

Below are some suggestions for industry specific dress:

Finance, Law and very corporate environments – Go for professional business attire, such as a full suit.

Government, Sales, Hospitality and Management – Business attire such as smart shirt and smart trousers/chinos works well for these roles. Include a blazer for layering.

Technology, Creative, Construction, Factory and Engineering – Generally, more casual here. Dark tailored jeans or chinos and a shirt would work well. A smart-casual blazer or fitted sweatshirt would be good for layering.

Top Tips for dressing for an interview:

  1. Assess the interview formality
  2. Research the industry and company culture
  3. Iron out any creases and polish shoes
  4. Keep it cohesive and minimise accessories
  5. Ensure good hygiene and grooming – not too heavy on the aftershave (it can be off-putting)
  6. Wear clothes that fit well
  7. Cover up tattoos and piercings
  8. Keep it simple if you’re unsure

Assessing the interview formality and researching the industry and company culture shows that you’re keen to fit in. Once you have selected your outfit of choice based on your research, taking the time to iron it, making sure it fits well, and taking care of your personal hygiene and grooming, shows that you care about how you present your own personal brand – that will hopefully be a good indication to the interviewer that you would present the brand of the company with the same level of care too.

Covering up tattoos and piercings when you wouldn’t in any other situation can feel strange – they certainly shouldn’t be discriminated against; however, they may be distracting in an interview, and you want the interviewer to be focused on the conversation. The same goes for wearing loads of different colours and going heavy on the accessories – 2-3 colours is great. A watch and a belt are all you need, plus a wedding band if you have one.

So, you’ve got your outfit sorted – what next?

There are some common interview questions that it would be good to prepare for ahead of your interview. Remember, be sure to come up with your own words, rather than memorising answers you’ve found online. Think about questions such as:

  • Tell us about yourself
  • What do you know about the organisation and why you want to work here?
  • What skills do you bring to the role?
  • What do you think are the key skills needed to make you successful in the role?
  • What are your strengths and areas of development? – always provide some areas of development – interviewers don’t expect anyone to be perfect
  • What would you do in the first month of the role?

There may also be some situational and technical questions specific to the role you’re applying for, so it would be useful to consider some examples of how these could be answered. A useful way to structure your answers is by using the STAR method – what was the Situation, what was the Task you needed to achieve, what Action did you take and what were the Results.

Prepare some questions for the interviewer too – this shows you’re interested and keen to learn as much as possible about the role/company.

Dressing in something that makes you feel great and preparing for an interview in the best way possible really helps to boost your confidence – now all that’s left to do is go in there and smash it!

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