Do I Need a Tie for a Job Interview? [It Depends]

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In the world of men’s fashion, the eternal question has long divided opinions: Do I need a tie for a job interview?

The adage “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” is one to adhere to when preparing for a job interview. And so is the similar-sounding “dress for the job you’re interviewing for.” 

Recognizing that appearance matters, you want to make a good impression. But ties remain a touchy subject. You don’t want to wear one if you’re not supposed to, but neither do you want to commit a fashion faux pas by overly dressing. 

Whether to wear a tie in your job interview depends on select factors. Most companies will specify whether it’s necessary or not well in advance. If not, below are some guidelines to follow so you’re never left wondering whether or not to wear one.

Why Do We Have to Wear Ties to a Job Interview?

Ties are traditionally part of professional menswear in parts of the world, including many countries in Europe and Asia. They originated as a signifier of class and status. 

In modern times, ties are still considered a status symbol; however, they have since become associated with the workplace and office culture. So while they may not be mandatory for every job interview, they are still appropriate for many of them.

Wearing a tie to an interview signals that you are taking it seriously and making an effort to put your best foot forward. It could show that you took the initiative to understand the dress code and culture of the organization you’re interviewing with. 

Ties are a great way to show that you care about your appearance without showing up looking too casual. It’s also a great way to communicate your personality subtly.

If you choose to wear a tie, it’s vital that you make sure it’s clean, ironed, and neatly tied. If it’s not perfectly neat, it can have the opposite effect!

Should I Wear a Tie to an Interview in 2022?

It depends on the role, company, and industry.

While it may seem trivial, what you wear is your first chance to make a lasting impression on an employer. In fact, 92% of employers who recruit new college graduates said that overall appearance influences their opinion about that candidate, 

It’s not just about looking good, though. What you wear should also be appropriate for the industry and role that the employer is trying to fill.

Wearing a tie shows that you put thought and effort into your appearance. It shows that you have attention to detail and understand what is appropriate for different situations.

You can wear a tie even if the interviewer doesn’t wear one. You will still stand out from other applicants and show that you know how to dress appropriately.

Formal sectors typically require ties, including law, finance, consulting, and government work. For these industries, it’s essential to know what type of tie to wear so as not to appear out of touch. 

If unsure, consult with your career services office or contact the HR department at your prospective company directly. They should be able to give you some advice on appropriate attire based on the company culture.

Other industries such as education, retail, and technology usually allow the freedom of going tie-less but will consider it informal or even unprofessional if done too often.

Some companies even take it a step further by requiring specific color schemes or patterns for an applicant to wear to an interview. In this case, always defer to the company’s preference. 

Consider the age of the people working there. It can be hard to tell from an interview, but older people usually expect more formality than younger people. So, wearing a tie might be better if most of the workers there are older than you. 

What’s more important than wearing a tie is ensuring it’s a good fit. It shouldn’t be so tight that it strangles your neck. Neither should it be too loose that it keeps slipping.

Do I Need to Wear a Tie to a Job Interview?

Unless you’re interviewing for a job in a more casual industry, it’s always best to wear a tie. There are some exceptions to this rule, but most interviewers will expect you to wear one.

If you are interviewing for a role in the technology industry, you most likely won’t need to wear a tie. If you are interviewing on Wall Street or for a position requiring a lot of client-facing or face time with the C-suite, it’s probably safer to wear a tie.

If you are unsure whether to wear a tie, play it safe and wear one than not and risk looking underdressed.

When Do I Have to Wear a Tie to a Job Interview?

It was considered unprofessional to show up for a job interview without a tie in the past. Times have changed, however, and some companies no longer require applicants to wear ties. If you are not required to wear a tie but decide to wear one anyway, choose something conservative and complementary to the rest of your suit.

In some careers, wearing formal business attire will always be required for an interview. These include roles in law and finance, for example, banks and investment firms. In some industries like fashion, you may get away with something less conventional provided it’s still professional, but that’s not always the case.

Unless instructed otherwise, dress conservatively for your job interview and plan on wearing a tie. Even if the interviewer is not wearing a necktie, you should still show up in business formal attire. That shows that you are serious about the job and respect them.

You won’t necessarily need to wear a tie for most jobs in technology or creative fields like media and design. If in doubt, opt for something conservative rather than risk being underdressed.

During the phone screening process, you can always ask if ties are required at interviews (and don’t forget to enquire about other aspects of their attire).

Do I Need a Tie for an Online Video Interview?

As of January 2021, 79% of employers were regularly conducting video interviews, compared to only 22% in pre-pandemic times. So, the chances of being evaluated on camera are pretty high. 

Interviewing on video has many positive points, including that you can be comfortable in your clothes.

But if you’re like me, dressing for a video interview may seem strange. I’ve been in a professional setting for so long that the idea of not wearing a suit, tie, and polished shoes is foreign. We are creatures of habit.

If you are used to dressing up for interviews, there’s no reason to stop doing it (unless the company has a casual dress code). It helps you keep your mind in the right place during an interview, which is especially critical during a video interview.

If this is your first time “dressing” for an online video interview, you don’t need to dress like you’re going to a face-to-face interview. But you also shouldn’t look like you just got out of bed.

Wear something that feels professional but reflects your personality. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you were meeting someone in person (we’ll get there again!) But that doesn’t mean it must be a full suit and tie.

Wear something that looks good on camera. Solid colors generally work well, mainly blue and brown. Avoid stripes or other patterns that can be distracting.

It helps to dress for the role you’re seeking. If you’re interviewing for an attorney or banker job, dress accordingly — perhaps a suit and tie for men and a blazer or suit jacket for women. For a less formal job, khakis and a button-down shirt might suffice for men (or a dark T-shirt with no logo) and slacks or jeans with a nice top for women.

Depending on the camera angle, ensure what you’re wearing isn’t too distracting or revealing. In addition, your background should be neat and uncluttered if you’re not using the “virtual background” feature in Zoom.

It’s always better to be slightly over-dressed than under-dressed. After all, if you want to perform well in a pressure situation, a highly recommended tip is to dress smartly.

How to Wear a Tie to a Job Interview

Ties are still a powerful symbol of professionalism and can be the first casualty in a post-interview job offer decision. Avoid looking out of place with these tips on how to wear a tie to an interview:

  • Choose a tie that matches your suit and complements your body type. You want to look professional and put together without looking overdressed or underdressed. Ensure the necktie has similar colors as your suit. For example, you can still look professional and polished with a navy suit paired with a maroon or navy tie.
  • Make sure It’s the right length. Long enough but not too long – It should fall right above your belt line regardless of your height and the tie’s length and style. 
  • Choose a tie with a solid color and subtle patterns. Stripes should be thin, vertical, and only two to three inches wide at most; they should never be broader than the lapels on your suit jacket. Overtrendy and novelty ties are out of the question — as is anything else sparkly or shiny (unless it’s silk).
  • Choose your shirt wisely. An appropriate shirt length and collar style should match your tie’s design. If you’re wearing broad stripes, choose a narrow-striped shirt. Neckties with widely-spaced polka dots pair well with checkered, striped, or solid shirts.
  • Be careful with the tie knot. Learn when a four-in-hand, half-Windsor, or full Windsor knot is appropriate and how to tie each. 

Summary

Do I need a tie for a job interview to land a position in a prestigious firm? Probably not. Can I get away with a clip-on or bowtie and still look professional for a job interview? Mostly not!. Will you have to buy a tie now? That depends on what you already own and whether it’s good enough.

Ultimately, there’s no hard and fast rule about whether you should wear a tie to an interview. If you want to, then, by all means, go ahead and do it! You should feel confident that you look good, so go for it! 

Just make sure that the tie is appropriate for the role, business, and industry. Your goal is to make a good impression, so wear something clean, professional, and tasteful.

Continue your interview prep with this post: Top 7 Things to Do the Day Before a Job Interview