The thought of not getting your dream job because of a layer of facial fur is definitely a distressing one. But it’s important to consider how likely it is before wracking those nerves. So, is stubble OK for an interview?
Choosing to have stubble in an interview will always be a risk. Just how big of a risk will depend on factors such as the workplace and industry you’re applying to, as well as how well the stubble is maintained.
In general, the versatility of stubble will allow you to grow and wear it in many different situations and contexts ranging from casual to professional.
That’s the beauty of short facial hair. It’s subtle.
But each interview will have to be assessed in isolation. There may well be a few where you’d rather not take the risk, no matter how small the risk may be.
This article is going to teach you exactly how to decide whether stubble is ok for the specific interview you’re applying for.
A professional faux pas is not a pleasant experience to go through.
Let’s get to it.
Is Stubble OK For Your Interview: 3 Questions To Ask
You’ve nailed the application, portfolio, or whatever else they wanted.
It’s time for the interview. Is that face fuzz going to cut it?
Ask yourself these three questions for each interview you attend.
1. What’s The Industry?
It’s no secret that certain professions and workplaces are a little more accommodating of adventurous grooming choices and “flair” when it comes to dress sense.
This is definitely the case when it comes to facial hair.
In some jobs, rocking a Ducktail or even a Fu Manchu wouldn’t be anything more than a topic of conversation. You aren’t going to get any awkward calls from Susan in HR asking you to trim or be trimmed.
In general, the more “corporate” a workplace is, the more likely they are to have a problem with facial hair.
That’s not always true, of course. You’ll see plenty of investment bankers and corporate lawyers rocking stubble.
But it’s just more likely to be a problem here, particularly when you’re the most junior guy on the floor.
If you’re applying for an interview at a corporate workplace, don’t take the risk. Shave off the stubble. Once you get the job, test the waters by slowly growing out your facial hair increments to see just how far you can push it.
But these aren’t the only workplaces that may have a problem with stubble.
For instance, emergency forces and the military may not allow stubble because it might interfere with fitting protective equipment and masks.
Again, if you’re going for an interview at a job like this, shave off the stubble.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of “workplaces that don’t allow stubble” by any means, but it hopefully emphasizes the main point.
Think about the job you’re applying for and go from there.
It can sometimes be difficult to get an idea of what might be appropriate in the workplace you’re applying to work in. After all, you may not have much inside knowledge yet.
Because of this, it’s worth asking people you might know who already have the job you’re applying for.
Alternatively, you could just look up pictures of people with the job online, as well as maybe the workplace you’re applying to work in.
This should give you an idea, although it isn’t a perfect method.
Ultimately, it comes down to you and an interviewer. No matter how “OK” stubble might be in a workplace, if the interviewer isn’t a fan, there’s no guarantee it won’t impact their decision.
In these situations, play it safe and shave it off.
2. What Are You Expected To Wear?
Knowing what you’re expected to wear to the interview actually provides some good insight.
A strict dress code, whether explicitly or implicitly stated, does suggest that you’ve got less flexibility when it comes to facial hair.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. After all, you’ll see plenty of men at work in suits with a face covered in stubble.
But if an interview or an interviewer specifically requests formalwear such as a suit, or even just a shirt and tie, you may want to think twice about stubble.
It’s all about weighing up the risks.
The risk of choosing stubble over clean-shaven to an interview that specifically requires a suit may not seem that significant.
But is it worth taking?
When employers are fussy about what you wear to an interview, there’s a high likelihood that they’ll be particular about your dress code if you were to get the job.
This does suggest that facial hair might be a problem. Of course, there’s a good chance this may not be true. But the risk will always be there.
To sum this up, if you’ve been asked to wear a suit to the interview, it should steer you away from stubble and toward clean-shaven.
3. How Well Is The Stubble Maintained?
After asking yourself the two questions above, you may decide that stubble is, in fact, OK for the interview you’re going for.
Let’s take a retail job as an example. It’s very unlikely that a retail workplace will have a problem with stubble. Because of this, you may well decide to keep that stubble.
After all, it can make a guy look older or more mature. This may be exactly what you want.
The next question to ask is whether your stubble is good enough for an interview.
Yes, folks. Stubble is either good enough, or it isn’t. It’s as simple as that.
There’s a serious difference between untidy, poorly-maintained stubble and glorious, well-defined, and carefully-sculpted stubble.
No matter what your future employer’s attitude toward stubble may be, there is no excuse for wearing untidy stubble to an interview.
So, how do you make sure that stubble is presentable?
The most basic habit you should make a point to stick to would be trimming the stubble down to a neat, even length.
In addition to this, however, you’ll want to make sure the stubble borders are well-defined. By this, I mean the neckline and the cheek lines.
The neckline is the border between your neck hair and your neck skin. It needs to be at the correct height – not too high and not too low.
Here’s a tutorial on how to trim the perfect stubble beard neckline, if you’re interested.
The cheek lines can get untidy pretty quickly. They’re the “upper border” of the stubble beard, where the cheek hair meets the cheek skin.
You’ll want to trim any stray hairs that lie above them, accentuating and defining your natural cheek lines.
There are other habits I could go into such as applying beard oil on heavy stubble, but I’ll leave it at this.
I’ve written pretty extensively on how to properly maintain stubble on the blog.
The point of this article is that this maintenance is crucial to ensuring that the stubble is presentable enough for your interview.
It will make the difference between coming across as stylish, or coming across as poorly-groomed and shabby.
An accidental stubble beard is not what you want. You don’t want to look like you’ve just forgotten to shave.
The stubble needs to look intentional.
Stubble Vs Clean-Shaven: What If You’re Not Sure?
If you aren’t sure whether to choose between stubble or clean-shaven to an interview, go for clean-shaven. It may not be ideal for you, but it’s a safer bet.
After asking yourself the three questions I listed above, there’s a chance you still might not be sure.
It isn’t always easy.
There are plenty of gray areas where the decision just isn’t as clear-cut, I’m afraid.
Going clean-shaven will always be your safest bet.
There are several reasons why you may not want to. As I mentioned earlier, it can make some men look several years younger, which isn’t always great when applying for a job.
Some men also just absolutely hate shaving, particularly if they’ve got sensitive skin.
But at the end of the day, it’s not something you want at the back of your mind when going for an interview.
The process is stressful enough without having to worry about the interview hating your stubble.
Even if it’s just a hypothetical concern, that additional psychological burden isn’t worth having and may even impact your concentration and performance.
Simply shave it off, dress immaculately, and present yourself as the perfect candidate.
Don’t stress too much about it.
Simplify the process – ask yourself the right questions and if you aren’t sure, just shave it off.
Don’t worry. You’ll get your stubble back just a few days later.
That’s the beauty of it – unlike fuller and longer beards, it really doesn’t take long to grow back.
Best of luck for the interview, my stubbled friend.