Interviewing is one of those things that is both agonizing and exciting at the same time.
When you are interviewing for what may be your dream job, you spend countless hours preparing all your answers, researching exhaustively about the company, and of course, one other important aspect – what to wear and how to look.
While we could probably write a whole site worth of content about your appearance at a job interview – we specifically want to talk about just your facial hair.
With the recent rise in bearded men across the country, there is no denying the popularity of facial hair in the workplace.
Beards are in style!
From CEOs like Jack Dorsey (Twitter) growing a beard, all the way down the engineering team – beards are found at every level of the organization.
So, this begs the question, if you have an interview – should you shave your beard beforehand?
Well, maybe or maybe not – here are some sure-fire tips that will help you out in deciding which look will set you up for a successful first impression at your interview:
While I personally loathe LinkedIn since it has become a Facebook for salespeople, it can prove to be quite helpful in this case.
When interviewing with a company, be sure to look up the company on LinkedIn and look at their men.
Specifically, you want to take a look at guys who are sporting beards in their profile pic.
If you notice that at least 10% of men have facial hair, then you are probably ok to head into the interview without shaving.
Contrary to that, if beards are pretty sparse, then you have your answer on to whether or not you should shave.
Be Sure To Also Check The Company Instagram Account
In this day and age, companies are becoming more vocal on Instagram – which can be both great and cringeworthy at the same time.
I mean come on, who wants to see Bob shoveling down hot dogs into his gullet at the company summer party!?
But alas, in this scenario, deciding whether you need to shave or not can be pretty helpful.
But be careful, if you are looking at a huge multi-national company, the images you see on the account may be for an international office (i.e., Dubai) where the culture there is incredibly beard friendly.
So be sure to read the photo descriptions while doing your research!
Beard Friendly Jobs
Even if you might have struck gold with a beard-friendly workplace, you might not be entirely in the clear.
Depending on the role that you are interviewing for could decide the fate of your beard.
Generally speaking, if you are applying for a client-facing role, then you should probably shave your beard.
This means that for jobs in business development, presenting data analysis to clients, regular conference attendance, or just taking meetings on behalf of the company, the safe move is to shave your beard before the interview.
Now, if you get the job, you might be able to grow a short stubble style once you start working. However, that will largely be up to your discretion.
Beyond client-facing roles, if you will be handling food, particularly in large food processing plants, beards may need to be covered due to sanitary conditions – or simply they will ask you to wear a hairnet over your beard.
Size Of The Company
If you are applying for a position within a young startup, the chances are that they don’t have a formal HR department that has written guidelines around employee appearance.
Therefore, these young companies should be pretty safe to interview without worrying about your facial hair accidentally setting off the wrong first impression.
Just remember, even in smaller companies, client-facing roles will still require that your beard be shaved to appease the higher-ups.
When it comes to large conglomerates, it may largely depend on division or office branch.
While a bit hazy to give a recommendation on beard vs. no beard, we would lean on the LinkedIn / Instagram method above and see if you can find men in the same location you are interviewing to see what their facial hair appearance looks like.
Beard Friendly Regions
Depending on where you are in the United States, there tend to be friendlier beard regions.
Specifically, we mean that if you are in an urban area like NYC (Brooklyn specifically) or Austin, beards are undoubtedly in style right now.
More often than not, the companies in trendy urban areas should be pretty beard-friendly (again, though be sure to check LinkedIn / Instagram for confirmation).
If you are in more of a rural area, beards, while still likely common, maybe a bit more rare in the workplace.
It’s not to say that the folks in suburbia or rural areas don’t love beards; it’s simply that the companies’ rules tend to be more conservative.
To speak further to this, when still in high school I worked for a large southeastern grocery chain that required all their workers to shave their facial hair (mustaches were allowed). Whether you were a cashier, bagger, front office, stock clerk, or even pharmacist – the facial hair had to come off.
Compared to grocery chains in the northern states, there seem to be incredibly lax rules based on facial hair appearance.
Make Sure Your Beard Looks On Point
Whether you are applying for a lead engineering role or the VP of Marketing, one rule remains true – you still need to look presentable.
Never get lost on the fact that this is an interview, and you need to both act and look your absolute best to get the position.
Therefore, we highly recommend that you visit the barber a few days before an interview to get your beard shape in place and generally have a much more kempt look.
Beyond making sure that your whiskers are expertly trimmed, you will also want to condition it properly; while a solid beard oil will work wonders, we like to recommend that men use a beard balm instead.
The reason why we recommend balm over oil is due to the inclusion of beeswax into the product. Beeswax provides a light to medium hold on your wiry whiskers to assist you to look your absolute best for the big meeting.
Unfortunately, beard oil contains no binding or styling agents (just carrier and essential oils). Therefore, you won’t maintain the same look for the interview you had when walking out the door in the morning.
Secondly, be sure to comb your beard rather than brushing it. A beard comb will give you much better styling control when compared to a brush.
While we love Kent combs for overall beard styling, we recommend a foldable beard comb as the uniquely compact design can slide into your pocket. This allows you to clean up your whiskers in your car or the bathroom before your interview.
It Will Grow Back
Remember, as much as you may love your beard; it will always grow back.
The chances are that you will be going on multiple interviews before you land your next job.
So, having to worry about your facial hair before each interview may be a bit too demanding – and that’s completely ok.
You are trying to get the job of your lifetime – don’t let the allegiance of your beard completely block your judgment and set off the wrong first impression.
It will always grow back.
And heck, even if you think from the onset that you might be working at a beard unfriendly place, you may discover otherwise and begin your beard journey again once you start working at your dream job.
Stuck With Shaving For Your New Gig?
If you are about to land the perfect job of your life, but the sticking point of shaving daily has got you down, don’t fret.
Here at Tools of Men, we help out guys from all walks of life to get them on the perfect grooming regimen.
Therefore, we would highly recommend that you check out our perfect shave routine manual on how you can get an incredibly close shave with maximum comfort and smooth/close results.
That’s Not All…
Best of luck with your interview!
Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Go in with confidence, ask follow-up questions, and knock that interview out of the park!
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.