From childhood we are told "First Impressions Count". For time immemorial, Men and Women have stood in front of mirrors and nervously pondered the ability of their chosen outfit to make a suitable first impression. Multiple outfit changes have preceded millions of first dates, meeting with parents, court appearances... but nothing compares to job interviews. A job interview is the perfect storm of open evaluation and naked desire, affording the employer all the power. Therefore, looking your best and brightest may be the ultimate tool to hide any deficiencies from potential employers. More than that, it may be the defining 'x-factor' that sets you apart from other applicants.
FACT: looking sharp, clean and well-groomed tells people you take pride in your appearance, and that highlights an innate self-confidence. The employer may just want that suave, self-confident young man on their team. Here is how:
When deciding on your suit, think conservative with a touch of individuality. Avoid pinstripes or plaid finishes, and go with a standard two-piece business suit. For colour, consider a charcoal or a darker navy, something that is both office appropriate and approachable. Black suits are another option, and paired with the right shirt and tie they can work, however they can sometimes appear overly formal and a little sombre, which is not the impression you want to be giving people.
The cut and fit of the suit is the most determining factor in how you will appear. At a certain point in life, borrowing suits from friends with different body shapes simply isn't an option anymore. Wearing a suit too large makes you appear sloppy and sunken, whilst wearing a suit too small for you makes you look like a kid going to his first school dance. Get a suit fitted, look at yourself in the mirror and you will realise there was a young professional hiding in there all along.
The colour, collar and fit of a dress shirt or business shirt should complement the suit you're wearing without drawing too much attention. A freshly ironed white dress shirt is suitable for almost any occasion, and should be a staple in any man's wardrobe. Failing that, other lighter pastels or neutrals, like blue, light blue or cream, will do the job. At times like this, avoid bold colours or vivid patterns in favour of safer options. If you're applying for an entry level position, maybe avoid white contrast or 'power' collars, as you don't need to dress like the CEO to work for him.
It's the little details that can set you apart. Therefore, a man should be freshly groomed when interviewing. If you wear facial hair make sure it's maintained and neat, and don't be afraid to run a comb, or at least a hand, through your hair beforehand. Wear a tie that has a complimentary colour to your shirt, maybe with an additional colour for contrast. Once again, avoid any tie pattern or colour that could be considered offensive to the eyes. This is also a situation where your favourite novelty bowtie won't suffice. Dress shoes that are neatly polished and scuff free are mandatory, and they must match your belt (if you are wearing a suit that requires one). Socks should be matching, and can never, in any circumstance, be white. If you're wearing a shirt with French cuffs, ensure you have some neat cuff-links to finish the look. Keep any jewellery to a minimum (watch and/or ring only) and don't hose yourself down in cologne. And last, but not least, ensure your breath won't scare employers away before you have even started.
- B.A. Barlow