In researching for this topic, I have come across many well-written articles. They are all very helpful but they seem to cater to a very particular group of men. There’s nothing wrong with providing watch tips for C-level executives who wear thousand-dollar Italian suits. After all, it can be hard to decide between Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet. But I feel like there’s a need for a more comprehensive guide — an article that works for both the everyday Joe AND a CEO looking to land his next multi-million job.
Wearing a Watch to a Job Interview
First off, the multi-million (or multi-thousand) question.
Yes, you should. However, there’s one small caveat. You shouldn’t wear one if you tend to check the time compulsively. That will most likely give the wrong impression to your prospective employer. It doesn’t matter if you’re just glancing at your watch and not actually checking the time. In your employer’s mind, your action suggests that you’re too good for the interview and you would rather be somewhere else rather than being stuck in the room with them.
With the caveat out of the way, let’s examine the benefits of wearing a watch.
Here are some reasons why you should consider wearing a wristwatch to an interview.
- It keeps you on time. It goes without saying — you don’t want to be late to your interview. Being late jeopardizes your first impression and take away precious time you could have spent to impress your interviewer. A watch on your wrist should do the trick of reminding you of the time. Should you run late, here are some tips to help you recover.
- It gives your interviewer the impression that you’re always on time. Wearing a watch indicates that you’re a time-conscious person and you’re likely to be on-time with your work.
- You don’t have to keep checking your phone for the time. You shouldn’t be too concerned about the time during the interview anyway but wearing a watch takes away the excuse for you to impulsively check your phone.
- It boosts your self-confidence. This may or may not work for you but for some people, such as myself, wearing accessories makes them feel more confident. Don’t ask me why, it’s probably psychological.
- It makes you more interesting.
- It shows off your capability. For some positions, it might be beneficial to wear a luxury watch as it shows that you’re a confident and capable person.
Don’t wear your employer’s competitor to the interview. So you own a Samsung smartwatch and you are loving it. Great. Just don’t wear it to the Apple interview. Wearing a competing product likely won’t offend the interviewer, but it suggests that: 1. you’re not a sensitive person or lack empathy, 2. you’re not a team player. There’s so much more happening during an interview that is non-verbal. You’re sending signals through your actions and what you wear. And wearing a competing product, when you clearly have a choice not to, may not be sending the right signals.
Be sure to charge your watch the night before and set it to silent before the interview.
The rule of thumb is you should dress and behave according to the position you’re applying. Wondering if it’s OK to wear an expensive watch or a really expensive watch to an interview? Here are a few factors to consider: seniority, level of income, and company culture.
First off, seniority. If you’re interviewing for an entry-level position, don’t wear a Rolex. Why? Because you’re sending some strange non-verbal signals. Why are you wearing a Rolex? Maybe it’s a fake? Who wears a fake watch to an interview? Avoid confusion by going for a watch brand that is more down-to-earth, like Fossil, Timex, Casio, and Seiko. For a more experienced position, go ahead and wear anything you want. Of course, there are still some ground rules to follow. Keep reading.
Another thing to consider is the expected income of the job you’re trying to land. It’s inappropriate to wear a watch that costs twice your annual salary to an interview. That’s hyperbolic but you get the idea. For example, you’re interviewing for a job that pays a 36k salary. It may raise some eyebrows if you wear a watch that costs 15k. You want to make yourself stand out during the job application process but a luxury watch is not the best way to do it.
You should also take into consideration the culture of the company you’re interviewing for. Say the company has a culture of austerity and its executives don’t flaunt their wealth, you could stick out like a sore thumb by wearing your Patek Philippe Celestial. On the other hand, if the company worships the display of wealth and you’re interviewing for a senior position, it might actually help you by wearing the most expensive watch in your collection. How so? Because you’re telling your interviewer that you’re a capable person and if they want you in their company, they better make sure that the job offer is up to your standards.
There’s also this saying, you shouldn’t wear a watch that is more expensive than your boss’s. Whether that’s true or not is up to you to decide.
You probably shouldn’t wear a cartoon watch unless you’re one of the following:-
- You’re 12
- You’re interviewing for a creative position: illustrator, artist, painter, creative associate, creative director, art director, etc.
- You’re doing it as a power move to show how confident you are and to lighten the mood.
- It keeps your stress level in check.
- You’re wearing a Mickey Mouse watch to a Disney interview
The cartoon watches we’re talking about here are the kind of watches that are often flashy, plasticky, and in primary colors. Stainless steel watches with cartoon characters on the dial are more commonly accepted.
When someone wears a cartoon watch to a job interview, he is either extremely confident, easy-going, or slightly insane. You’re probably filed under the latter group if you’re applying for an entry-level job or an internship. Nobody will think that it’s a power move when you’re fresh and inexperienced; they think you’re being immature.
Cartoon watches are also a terrible idea when you’re applying for a customer-facing job. The fact is people care about your appearance. If you appear quirky in the way you present yourself during the interview, your prospective employer may worry about what happens after you get the job.
TL;DR – Avoid cartoon watch unless you’re a veteran in the industry and you know what you’re (e.g. doing it as a power move, or to gain brownie points).
You don’t have to send your watch back to its manufacturer for a tuneup or for a polish. But you might be labeled as eccentric if your watch is moldy and it tells the time of Papa New Guinea (replace with a country from a different zone if you’re in Papa New Guinea). Here’s how to prepare your watch for the interview.
- Checking – What needs to be fixed? If it runs on battery, is the battery level low? If it’s mechanical, does it need winding? Is the watch broken?
- Charging – [Only applicable to smartwatches] No one would probably care about a dead smartwatch on your wrist but it sure doesn’t feel right.
- Winding – [Only applicable to mechanical watches] Wind it up such that it can last the day. For automatic watches with no manual winding, it’s time to shake it.
- Tuning – Set the time. Is the current time correctly set? Did you come back from a different time zone recently? Have you adjusted your watch for Daylight Saving? Other things to adjust are: date, moon phase, etc.
- Cleaning – Last but definitely not least is cleaning. You can choose to clean every corner of your watch. But at the minimum, you should focus on the watch glass, bezel, and strap. Don’t worry if there are scratches or dirty spot that you can’t remove, I’m pretty sure no one cares about it. If you don’t feel too great about the scratches, just don’t wear the watch.
Read also: Bomber Jacket Cleaning Guide
Next, let’s take a look at some style tips. How to plan a job interview outfit such that the watch and the attire co-exist in harmony. While these suggestions don’t directly change the outcome of the interview, they might give your self-confidence and mood a little boost. And sometimes, that makes all the difference.
See all work outfit ideas.
Watch Types: What Watch to Wear
What types of watches should you wear to a job interview? This section is dedicated to the watch
Recommended for formal events. This type of watch is often slimmer and elegant. Dress watches aren’t usually bulky because that prevents the watch from sliding in and out the shirt sleeve smoothly. Go for a dress watch if you’re going for simplicity and elegance. Outfits to go with a dress watch: suit & tie, shirt & khaki.
Some men’s magazines would have you believed that wearing anything other than an analog dress watch to an interview will cause societal collapse. You know what? It’s perfectly fine to wear a digital watch. Digital watches are simply more accurate and easier to read. In terms of style, however, you might not want to avoid this type of watch when you plan to put on a suit.
Digital watches and suits are like oil and water — you can add them together but they just don’t mix. If you absolutely have to pair a digital watch with your suit outfit, make sure that your watch is slim enough to fit in your jacket sleeve. Preferably, it’s in one of the darker colors: black, dark gray, navy blue — silver could work too. A bulky red watch to go with your brown suit is a big fashion no-no. Doing so will get the fashion police on your tail.
Not all of us wear a suit to a job interview. Shirts and tie, or just a button-down shirt, or collar t-shirt as interview attire are common standards for some industries. The good news is the digital watch will go well with these other outfits besides the suit. As long as the watch isn’t overly flashy you’ll be doing OK — you don’t want the interviewer to get distracted by an accessory.
By the way, here’s a fun fact. Did you know that the first generation of digital watches is mechanical instead of electronic?
No conventional interview outfit goes well with a cartoon watch. However, if you want, you can perhaps try to match the colors. For example, if you’re wearing an orange Naruto watch and a suit, consider getting yourself an orange batik pocket square. The goal is to create some coherence in your outfit.
Another style tip for cartoon watches is this. If the strap is changeable, consider balancing the flashiness and overpowering color palette often found in cartoon watches. For example, say you have a Pokemon watch with Pikachu on it. The bezel is primary blue and the strap is primary yellow, you can replace the strap with a NATO strap. That’ll help to dial it back a little.
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Smartwatches are the newest generation of the wristwatch family. Whether you own one or not, you have to agree that they look really cool. However, as with most things in life, there’s a tradeoff involved. Smartwatches make you look cool and you can make phone calls with them but they just don’t offer the elegance factor the same way a dress watch does. And that is true for Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch, and any other smartwatches today.
What that means is there will be some feeling of mismatch if you’re wearing an ill-fitted conservative brown suit. In other words, your wrist has just become the coolest part of your existence. If you have weeks, get your oversized suit fitted at the seamstress. If you don’t, consider wearing a different watch, one that keeps your conservative look in balance. Having said that, interview or not, your suit should always have the proper fitting.
Smartwatches are great accessories to accentuate smart casual outfits. We’re talking about shirt and khaki, shirt and dress pants, shirt + vest – with or without a blazer jacket.
Just keep it in your pocket during the interview.
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In general, watch straps don’t usually cause that much of a problem to your overall look. But some straps are considered more formal than others. Straps made of metal or leather are more formal than NATO and fabric straps. So metal and leather bands are safe choices for any interview outfit – be it formal or smart casual.
Daniel Craig’s James Bond is known for wearing his Omega with NATO strap as part of his tuxedo outfit but chances are you aren’t interviewing at MI6. So you might want to avoid pairing NATO strap with a formal outfit. Match NATO and other more casual straps with a smart casual outfit.
Plastic/silicone/rubber bands (referred to as plastic bands hereinafter) are firmly placed in the casual zone. Those are OK if your interview outfit is more casual, i.e. collar t-shirt or just a white button-down shirt with jeans. Just make sure that the color of the strap isn’t too distracting and you’ll be fine. Ideally, the strap color should complement the color palette of your outfit. You really shouldn’t go out when there’s a civil war of colors going on. You will find some additional tips on color matching in the next section. But the bottom line, you don’t a flashy strap to take the limelight away from you.
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A few words on harmonizing the color of your watch and your interview wear.
- Avoid distracting colors. If possible stick to black, gray, brown, navy blue, silver, gold, rose gold.
- Match the color of your accessories. That means your watch, belt, and shoes should be in the same shades of color For example, keep them in brown or black. Keep the accessories in harmony by matching their colors.
- Color theory is your friend. As a starter, look for an outfit that is complementary to the color of your watch or vice versa. Choose a watch that elevates your outfit. For example, a rose gold watch will go extremely well with a navy blue outfit such as a navy blue shirt or navy blue suit. A gold watch to go with a blue outfit. Stainless steel is neutral and pairs well with any color.
Your Turn: What Watch Do You Plan on Wearing to the Interview?
Now that we’ve shared our thoughts on wristwatches & job interviews. It’s your turn. What do you think is a good watch to wear to an interview. And if you have one such event coming up, are you ready for it? What are you planning to wear and are you going to wear a watch? What kind of watch are you wearing?
At the end of the day, whether you choose to wear a watch or not, it mostly likely won’t affect the outcome of the interview. However, wearing a proper outfit and watch appropriate for the interview shows that you came prepared and are respectful of the institute you’re interviewing at. It suggests that you’re a timely and detail-oriented person. These verbal cues will likely make a positive impression on the interviewer. And that could just be the deciding factor that tips the scale in your favor when the competition is stiff.
This article was first published on Urban Men Outfits.
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