Question from a Reader: Manning the Job Interview

by Rachel Yeomans | August 26th, 2009   


Do you have any pointers on what a man should wear in an interview? And should it make a difference if a woman is the interviewer or not (considering women have a much better eye for fashion)? I’ve been wearing deep dark colors over a black suit (no pin stripes) when women have been interviewing me, wile sticking with bland neutral colors when it’s then men interviewing me.


When it comes to a working wardrobe, men usually have it much easier than women. “Easier” meaning men don’t usually have as many options to choose from: there is the slacks/polo or button-down shirt attire, suit and tie, or casually speaking jeans and a polo. However, taking the male wardrobe a step further in how a potential woman interviewer may view the male interviewee based on attire does sound like it would be a more difficult decision than figuring out what to wear to the office every morning.

runningbusinessman2 000 Question from a Reader: Manning the Job Interview

Let’s examine your two current interview outfits.

1. Woman Interviewing Man

You say you wear deep dark colors over a black suit sans pin stripes. That sounds like a very straight-forward look but I think it may be a little too much. My suggestion is that if you are wearing a black suit, keep it clean and crisp–wear a button-down shirt under the suit with a simple dark tie (but not black–stick with maroon red or a thick striped gray/black combination). If you are wearing an outfit that’s too dark, you may give off the vibe of a funeral parlor director versus a professional business associate.

2. Man Interviewing Man

The phrase “bland neutral colors” doesn’t necessarily convey ambitious best-foot-forward employee–more so it may seem to the interviewer that this individual wants to blend in and never step outside of what’s typed in the job description. If you’re looking to get a job in accounting, then that may be the perfect outfit no matter who is interviewing you. However, many businesses are looking for people who can multi-task, take over other peoples’ responsibilities, and pull their own along with many others’ weights during a very tumultuous economic time. Instead of looking to blend in, look to be professionally presentable. If you’re wearing a neutral-toned suit, wear a darker shirt under it (just the opposite of your first outfit). The dark red shirt would be a very tasteful option underneath a neutral jacket. The one caveat to this attire is that it sounds like it’d be a very fashion-forward work ensemble–however for an interview, it may be a little too casual.

shokunin businessman Question from a Reader: Manning the Job Interview

From your question, you seem to be more aware of your outer appearance when a woman interviews you. That may be the best frame of mind for you regarding any interview, be it with a woman or a man. It is best to be very aware of your appearance, albeit not uncomfortable. The most important interview attire is clothing that is comfortable, clean and makes you feel confident. How you feel in what you wear is conveyed to those around you–and that can make the deciding difference in your call-back.