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Should You Be Clean Shaven for an Interview?

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Walking into an interview feeling prepared is not just about knowing how to answer questions. It's about looking the part so that interviewers envision you as a part of their work culture. By being well-groomed, you project a seriousness about the job and your future. One way for a man to achieve this confidence is to put forth a clean-shaven face during the interview.

Why Shave

"Anyone walking into a job interview can be declined just in being seen," warns Ringo Nishioka, a 20-year human resources veteran and COO of Seattle-based BigDoor. It's crucial to follow basic grooming guidelines when it comes to facial hair and interviewing. While the creative and sporting industries may be more lax on the issue, professionals at a conservative law or accounting firm could have good reasons for being biased. In addition, some professions, such as firefighting, will straight out prohibit facial hair if it interferes with a respirator's sealing surface.

Shaving Cream or Gel

Shaving cream or gel acts as a skin moisturizer and prevents bumps and cuts from the blade. Prepare your skin by splashing warm water on the face and neck. Apply a thin layer of cream or gel, with your hands, around the beard and mustache area. Or, use a shaving brush with cream to further exfoliate the skin. Keep this on for a minute so that it penetrates and softens the skin. Add another layer to thicken it up, but not so much that it falls off in clumps before shaving begins.

How to Shave

Start with a sharp blade in either a cartridge or disposable razor. Place the razor at the top of the beard, which varies on men. Typically, it's just below the nose on the cheek area. Shave gently in the direction the hair grows, and slide the blade down the neck. Be careful not to press the blade too much against the skin, especially if you have acne. Rinse the blade after each stroke to keep it fresh. Continue around your face until all the hair is removed. Rinse with cool water and apply a hydrating lotion.

What Not to Do

According to Nishioka, a man should interview with a look most appealing to the largest number of interviewers. "There will always be someone who won't understand your facial hair style -- even if it is the latest trend," he says. "Clean shaven will not raise any eyebrows, increase prejudices or set off any preconceived notion, but a goatee, hair stubble, beard or mustache might." A 5 o'clock shadow or uneven facial hair might date you, and could be misconstrued as you not caring about the job or being too busy to groom.


Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.

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