They say that clothes make the man. And that may be true… you probably don’t want to wear your “Frankie Say Relax” or “FBI: Female Body Inspector” T-shirt to the office. Don’t get me wrong, those are super cool and hip. But a bit of professionalism goes a long way when it comes to your career advancement.
How you look does play a part in your success, like it or not. In fact, some studies have shown that traditionally attractive people earn 3-4% more than their below average counterparts. How’s that for fair?! Good looking and more money.
Confidence has something to do with it. If you’re good looking – or at least consider yourself good looking – your confidence and self-esteem go up. That carries over to every facet of your life, and people are drawn to confident individuals.
But “good looks” are largely out of your control. Genetics and cosmic luck are in charge. You can, however, tweak certain elements of your appearance like your wardrobe and your hairstyle.
Hair. Everyone has it (or had it, for our follicle-challenged friends). What you do with it is and should be a personal choice. That being said, there are rules that must occasionally be followed. At work, for example, there may be a policy against certain styles and choices. Fair enough.
But what about an interview? You don’t actually work for them yet, so can they dictate how you coif your curls? Absolutely not!
Unless you actually want the job. Then yes, yes they can. There are certain hairstyles that all men should avoid when going to an interview (also in everyday life, if we’re being honest).
See Also: 8 Outdated Office Fashion Rules for Men
Ah, the mohawk. I’m not going to lie: it’s cool. Amendment to that last statement: it’s cool when you’re either ten years old, or a professional athlete.
Named (incorrectly, it would seem) after the Mohawk people, a tribe of North American indigenous people, this hairstyle involves shaving all of the head except for a strip of relatively long hair down the middle of the scalp. The hair is usually styled to stand straight up. It’s a high-maintenance cut for most people… unless you simply let the hair lie flat against the head (although you would still need to shave frequently). It’s popular with young boys, punks, and anyone else looking to nonverbally shout “I am a nonconformist” via hair.
You might remember Robert De Niro sporting one back in 1976 in the classic film Taxi Driver. In recent years, many professional athletes have adopted it as well, like David Beckham, Clint Mathis, the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, and many others.
So, what message are you sending by showing up to an interview with a mohawk? You’re either: a) demonstrating that you’re a nonconformist (something usually undesirable to an employer); b) a wannabe athlete; c) a man-child; or d) a weekend Mr. T impersonator.
There ain’t one good choice among those. Mohawk? Nope.
2. Buzz Cut
It’s low maintenance, to be sure. Wake up and go. The buzz cut actually has a few variations – the butch cut, the crew cut, ivy league – but they all share the same cut close to the scalp characteristic. And some of them look pretty good.
But let’s talk about the flattop for a minute. The hair is cut short. Very short. Almost to the scalp on the sides and back. The hair on top is cut to the same length, and standing straight up to create a flat deck on the top of your head (hence “flattop”). It’s popular with the military in many countries, and was the style for many boys growing up in the 50s.
So, what’s so bad about it? Well, it’s severe for one thing. Like scary severe. It reminds most people of dictators and mean stepdads. If you’ve ever been threatened with military school, the guy threatening you probably had a buzz cut. It’s just hard to come across as warm, approachable, and friendly when your hair is required to stand at attention all day.
Employers want “nice” employees. They are not super keen on hiring G.I. Joe or the douchey older brother from Weird Science.
3. A Flock of Seagulls
Remember A Flock of Seagulls, the new wave and synthpop band from the 80s? They were big, and had a number of chart-topping hit singles like “I Ran (So Far Away)”. Sadly, though, they’re probably most remembered for the ridiculous hairstyle of lead singer Mike Score. A hairstyle could not be any more 80s unless it somehow managed to put on a pair of spandex tights.
It’s hard to describe if you’ve never seen it. It’s backcombed and standing up on the sides, but flat down the middle, with ample bangs hanging down over Score’s face. Yeah, the 80s… so awful and gaudy, but somehow awesome in its atrociousness.
The Flock of Seagulls haircut, though, not only does not belong at an interview, but it should also probably be made illegal everywhere and at all times. There is no possible way to pull it off without looking like a character from a John Hughes film (probably the geeky best friend). Or someone who suffered a head injury in 1985 (à la Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates) that made it impossible to make new memories, so your friends and family have to keep up the charade that it is still 1985 (complete with the bitchin’ style you sported back then) so you don’t blow your mind.
No. Just no.
As a Canadian, I have a soft spot for the mullet. It’s kind of (or was, at any rate) our national hairstyle. We love it, primarily because it’s inexplicably popular with hockey players. And we love hockey… not sure if you knew that about us.
The mullet is simply short on the sides and front, but left long (sometimes really long) in the back. Voilà! Instant hockey player street cred! Its popularity reached a fevered-pitch with the Hanson Brothers, fictional hockey players in the Paul Newman film Slap Shot. The Hansons were rough and tumble bruisers, always ready for a fight on or off the ice, and they proudly sported a gorgeous mullet. It was a great look… in 1977.
You, my friend, are no hockey player (even if you are a hockey player). The mullet is associated now with hicks (think Joe Dirt). Right or wrong, that’s not what you’re trying to pull off when sitting down across from Debbie, the HR manager. Hick = no offer of employment.
I don’t care if you make your own granola, grow organic vegetables using your own feces, and have free-range chickens in your backyard. I mean, good for you, but keep it to yourself. And wearing a ponytail – to an interview or otherwise – is shouting that to the world. A grown man should not wear a ponytail. Repeat that. Seriously.
Long hair is all well and good, but a ponytail just screams “tree-hugging hippie” (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Unless you’re trying to land a job with Burt’s Bees, Ben & Jerry’s, or Tom’s of Maine, leave the ponytail for behind closed doors.
Clothes – and hair – do make the man. If you want to play in the big boy sandbox, you need to look the part. Yes, of course, your hairstyle should reflect you as a person. But you may need to conceal that a bit if you want to be taken seriously at your next interview. A mullet does not convey knowledge. A buzz cut does not portray you as the fun-loving BFF that you would undoubtedly become with everyone in the office.
Your hairstyle should say “I am confident. I am competent. And I am ready for whatever challenges this job can throw at me!” Anything less, and you’re fighting an uphill battle.
Did we forget any heinous styles from past or present? What one style would you suggest should never walk in the door at an interview? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!