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Interviewing Tips – #2: More on Attire. Less is More!

Part of an ongoing series of interviewing tips to be presented over the next 100 days.

by Todd Oldfield, 22 Year Recruiting Veteran, 

No body knows more about proper business attire than Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris (of How I Met Your Mother and Doogie Howser, MD fame.)

Welcome back.

Yesterday we spoke of dressing “one notch above” your interview. If he/she is wearing khakis and a button-down, you are to wear khakis, button-down, and a sport coat or tie. Let’s talk a bit more about attire, but from the “accessorizing” stand-point.

Looking nice from our heads to our toes is important in many situations including; going to the bank to borrow money, meeting our girlfriends’ parents, church functions, and YES, job interviews.

Always remember the purpose of a job interview. The interviewer has asked you to come in to their company to speak with them. In their eyes, this is the only purpose for the interview. They are going to always presume you want to work for them or you would not take time to meet with them. Right? Well, this is his/her opportunity to figure out what kind of person you are. What’s your ambitions? What’s your goals? Are you professional? Business minded? Are you someone that, after they hire you, are going to take the job/career serious or are you just hopping around; “stepping stoning” it? 

They will look at your hair, your shirt, your pants, your shoes, your belt; and for that point, your general physique. Are you in shape, out of shape? Do you care about yourself, your health, you well-being? And they will presume if you do not care about yourself, you will not care about them either.

So, let’s cover some of these items.



Some Tips for Men!

First, guys; There is an old school thought about shoes. The idea is that your shoes should look really nice, polished (if appropriate), or clean and white (if tennis shoes). If you are wearing sandals…. well, good luck.  Sandals are really not appropriate for job interviews.  LOL So, does the “old way” still hold true? Do people really look at shoes? Does it matter if your shoes are clean?

No. In most social situations, these days do we need to worry so much about shoes I think. I just do not believe people notice today in this age of visual image overload. But, in a job interview, BELIEVE me, they will look, and factor that item in with all the others as they consider you for employment.


If pants, are they looking good? Pressed or neat? Or are you “sagging”? <— NEVER SAG in a job interview. Are you wearing jeans? Is that appropriate? What’s your interviewer wearing? For belts, do you have one on? Does it match your shoes (ie. brown shoes, brown belt?) Does your buckle match your watch (ie. gold buckle, gold watch? Chrome, silver watch, chrome, silver belt.) No kidding. They do look.


Your hair just really needs to be neat. I would get a hair cut a few days before any important interview. Treat the interview as a big sales presentation where you are there to speak with an investor about investing in your company. You want the absolute best “presence” you can muster. Go in with the big guns. Look the role they have for you. Leave them thinking, if nothing else, “that was one hellova star”.

Don’t be this guy.

While I do wear facial hair myself, I would highly advise against it in an interview. Especially where mustaches are concerned. I don’t know where they got their bad name from, but, they clearly have one. Mustaches = “slick, used car salesmen” OR “pick-up artist in a 70′s bar (don’t hate me for saying it… but, you know it’s true.”) 

Goatees are dangerous too… just make sure any hair you wear is neat and tight.



Clean. Yep. I do need to say clean.  Pressed. Creases are nice. Never go to a job interview in a T-shirt. In fact, based upon my Tip #1, there should probably not be an opportunity to interview in a T-shirt. What’s the interviewer wearing? Birthday suit?  REMEMBER, one notch above.

I highly advise a nice, laundered button-down. They are ageless and wearing them works if you are 80 or 18. Everyone has a button-down. With a sport coat they dress up nicely and without, still maintains a nice, business-casual appearance, without coming off too casual.


Sparse. Wear a nice watch (matching the buckle of your belt.). No chain around your neck please. Rings should match and be simple. Bracelets should be again, sparse. You are not here to make a statement or promote a Rap album you are releasing.

Plain, simple, elegant works in 99% of life. You are not here to get a date.  LOL. This is one area where “LESS IS MORE”, meaning that by keeping it simple and plain, you are creating “more” of an image for yourself.


Excellent Examples of Interview Attire for Ladies

First, let me say that at 50 years old, I know better than to try to teach a woman how to dress. HAHAHAHAHA. Having been married a number of times, I know that they know how to make a great image. Having said that let me just say this about job interviewing; simple, plain, tone down the smoldering sex appeal.  LOL

Serious, look nice, but not too nice. Let’s cover the same topics as we covered for men, and add a couple. And remember, dress just one notch above your interviewer. 


Yes. I know you know about shoes. Just pick a nice, clean, COMFORTABLE pair that matches your other accessories. I add comfortable because, I want you to be comfortable during your interview. Let’s face it, very often women wear really painful shoes because they look nice in them. Great you look nice but you cannot concentrate on your answers because of the pain you are in. Clean, matching, and comfortable is the way to go.


I usually recommend a nice dress or pants for a job interview since they can cover the gambit from business casual with khakis to business professional, with a nice dress. 

Again, nothing sexy. Keep the sexy stuff for the dance floor. Think “board meeting” and it’s your responsibility to present the quarterly sales. You want to look nice and professional, and you want to keep people’s attention on the facts, not the figures, er, so to speak.


Simple, flattering, matching…. not gaudy or too distracting. Where I would not tell a man to wear a chain, they look perfectly fine for ladies of any age. I think again “less is more”. Watches, rings, bracelets are just fine if they look nice, elegant, appropriate. I cannot imagine an interview setting anywhere that would call for an anklet.  LOL




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