The past two years have brought many changes to the workplace from pandemic job loss to an increase in remote work. Many men are changing jobs and preparing for interviews. Should you shave your pandemic beard before the interview? Do the same rules apply to Zoom interviews?
Traditional interview etiquette leans in the direction of a clean-shaven face during interviews; however, there are many industries where well-groomed facial hair is now perfectly acceptable. To determine if a beard is acceptable for your interview, research the potential place of employment and the grooming standards of current employees.
Read on as we delve into the specifics of interviewing with facial hair and some useful tips to implement!
Is it unprofessional to have a beard or facial hair in an interview?
Your quarantine beard has served you well over the past two years. Should you shave it off before tomorrow’s interview?
In many job environments, it can look just as professional to have a beard or facial hair as it does to be clean-cut. Doing some research before the interview will give you some important clues about whether to shave or not beforehand.
Several factors determine whether you should shave before an interview. Taking a look at the corporate culture, regional trends, and safety regulations of the job you are interviewing for can provide important clues regarding the shave debate. Religion, cultural practices, and medical conditions are also considerations when making the shave decision.
Psychological studies over the years have shown that facial hair often signals confidence, masculinity, and even higher social status. However, other studies have shown an association between facial hair and the perception of criminality.
Before you show up at an interview with facial hair, it’s a good idea to do some investigation into the company and role you’re seeking employment for.
Should you shave before an interview?
Your resume is perfected and your suit is back from the cleaners. You feel ready for your upcoming job interview. Should you also grab a razor and shave off your beloved beard?
Here are some important considerations when deciding to shave or not before an interview:
- Corporate culture
- Regional trends
- Safety regulations
- Religious beliefs, cultural practices, and medical conditions
Keep reading for a deep dive into how each of these considerations can affect your pre-interview grooming.
Different companies have different cultures. Your local tattoo parlor won’t have the same culture as a New York-based bank. Doing your homework before the interview will help you understand the company’s ideals and catch a glimpse inside their culture.
The corporate culture of the company you are interviewing with is an important factor when choosing whether to shave or not. Take some time to research the size of the company, industry trends, and the job role you’re applying for.
Stalk the company’s social media accounts and website for pictures of current management and employees. If you’re using a job recruiter, ask for their recommendation. Chances are they’ve placed people in this company before and can provide helpful tips.
As you prepare for your job interview, look at these factors closely:
- Size of the company
In addition, use these sources of information to provide valuable written and visual research:
- Social media
- Company website
Size of the company
Are you interviewing at a small family-owned business or a multi-billion dollar conglomerate? Larger companies tend to have more rules and regulations when it comes to their employees. A small locally owned company may be more lenient, or they may be more conservative in their dress and values.
Consider the size of the company when deciding to keep the beard or not during an interview. Larger companies may have more formal grooming requirements. Smaller companies may be more relaxed.
Larger companies have more employees and more oversight is required. They will sometimes institute dress or grooming codes to eliminate any potential problems. Smaller companies, on the other hand, may be more flexible due to fewer employees to micromanage.
Traditionally, Fortune 500 CEOs have been void of facial hair, but that trend is changing as younger executives enter this coveted group.
A look at the industry can also give you important clues about whether to shave or not prior to your interview. New start-ups and creative industries tend to embrace lifestyle trends more readily than long-standing, traditional industries.
If you are seeking a banking executive or law position, a clean-cut look might be your best bet. If you’re looking to work for a tech company or advertising agency, a beard may be in your favor.
Being familiar with industry trends and the ages of industry leaders can provide valuable facial hair intel.
Just like the industry can dictate grooming trends, the job role you’re aiming for can too. Is it practical to have a beard? Will it interfere with your job responsibilities?
The job role you are interviewing for is a big determiner of whether you should shave or keep your beard for the job interview. Client-facing roles may have different grooming requirements than behind-the-scenes roles.
If you are going to be in front of customers all day, then management may desire a clean-shaven face. If you will work solo, facial hair may not be a concern. Know what you will be doing to make an informed decision.
Last year, over 90% of companies with greater than 100 employees had a social media presence. This is an awesome place to look for shave culture information.
Social media accounts like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn can provide both written and visual clues to help you make a shave decision prior to an interview.
Social media channels are usually photo-rich. Scroll through their newsfeeds to get a sense of dress and grooming habits among employees. Candid photos will give you an inside look at the company’s day-to-day operations.
A company’s website is a great place to do some research before an interview. Not only will it provide key information for your discussion, but it can also highlight the people who work in the organization.
The target company’s website provides an abundance before of clues to help you determine whether shaving before an interview is necessary. Look at the About Us page and photo gallery to see if any owners or employees have facial hair.
Pay special attention to the About Us page. Do any of the members of leadership sport facial hair? Look at other pictures on the site. Do you see photos of the department you’ll be working in? Does anyone have a beard?
One caveat to keep in mind – often a website is quite dated. Many companies build the site at launch and forget about it. That’s why it’s important to look at multiple sources before you make a final shave decision.
As employment opportunities increase, job recruiters are in high demand. They can be a valuable resource on the beard versus clean-shaven topic.
A job recruiter can be a wealth of knowledge when deciding whether to shave or not. Recruiters often know the hiring managers personally and can give important insight into their preferences.
It’s a recruiter’s job to stay informed on employment and interview trends. Chances are they have placed other employees in the position you are applying for. Their insight can be worth its weight in gold.
Are you interviewing for a job in south Texas or the mountains of Colorado? Is the company located in a big city or a rural town? Is the area made up of traditionalists, conservatives, or liberals? Answers to these questions can help you make an informed decision.
Regional factors such as climate, location, and even political views can affect whether a beard would be acceptable in an interview.
Employers based in hot, humid climates might view beards as uncomfortable and impractical, while employers in cold or mild climates might view them as a welcome accessory.
Historically, beards have been associated with radical extremists and those who were anti-establishment. Fidel Castro, Karl Marx, and the hippie generation come to mind. While beards have certainly become more socially acceptable, some members of the older generations may still view them negatively.
Does the job you’re interviewing for require a respirator? Are you looking to snag a food service position? Will you be working with dangerous equipment? Answers to these questions can help you make the facial hair decision.
Safety regulations of the job you are interviewing for can dictate whether facial hair is acceptable. These regulations can protect the employee as well as the consumer.
Facial hair might be totally acceptable for marketing managers and plumbers but not ok for miners or machinists. Respirators and chemical masks won’t seal properly with facial hair. Long beard hair could get caught in machinery making it a safety hazard. Foodservice managers may try to mitigate contamination of prepped food by instituting a no facial hair rule.
Religious, cultural practices, or medical conditions
There are employment laws to protect an individual’s right to practice their chosen religion or cultural traditions.
Your own religious beliefs, cultural practices, or medical conditions can affect whether you should shave before an interview. Employers are prohibited from making requirements that would infringe on your civil rights or cause undue hardship.
Some religions, like the Sikh or Islam faiths, require men to grow beards. Even in traditionally clean-shaven jobs like the military, exemption waivers are accepted on the basis of religion.
Medical skin conditions like pseudofolliculitis barbae can make shaving abnormally irritating causing painful infections. Discussing your medical issues with potential employers could allow for beards even if the norm is no facial hair.
Of course, these employee rights must be balanced with the safety needs and regulations of the specific job.
Should you shave before a Zoom interview?
While pants may be optional during a Zoom interview, your face is on full display. Do the rules change for virtual interviews?
The same research and attention to grooming should be conducted before a Zoom interview as is conducted before an in-person interview. Companies that use a virtual platform to interview may be younger and more welcoming of current trends. If you are interviewing for a remote work position, facial hair may be a non-issue.
Quarantine highlighted the ease and convenience of virtual interviews. While the commute is shorter, your research shouldn’t be. Make sure to investigate the company and role just like you would for a company-based interview.
Before the pandemic, remote workers came in at 16.8 million. By 2025 this is expected to increase to over 36 million. If your desired job is a work-from-home role, then having a beard shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but it’s always a good idea to do some research.
Tips for bringing a beard to an interview
Your research is complete and you’ve decided to rock the beard at your interview. What’s next? Follow some basic grooming tips to make sure you put your best face forward.
The key to bringing a beard to an interview is to keep it well-maintained. Good hygiene and grooming habits are important to making an awesome first impression.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when interviewing with a beard or facial hair:
- Keep it maintained
- Err on the shorter side
- Don’t obstruct the mouth
- Tighten up the edges
- Don’t forget the neck
- Keep it clean and odor-free
Let’s dive in and take a look at each of these tips in detail.
Keep it maintained
Most interviewers want to make sure you pay close attention to details. A well-maintained beard shows your commitment and follow-through.
Keep your beard trimmed and even. Don’t face an interviewer with a scraggly, patchy beard.
Fun Fact: A beard transplant to fix patchy beards can cost from $4,000-8,000 in New York City.
Err on the shorter side
While beards may be acceptable in the workplace, long, out-of-control facial hair can make you look unkempt or even present a safety hazard.
Some corporate companies even have beard length standards included in their employee policies. One-half inch to one inch seems to be the most popular length limit.
Don’t obstruct the mouth
Hair in the mouth can be a huge distraction during an interview.
Let the interviewer see your lips while you speak. This will also be important if you will be working in a client-facing role.
If the interviewer can’t understand what you are saying, a customer won’t either.
Tighten up the edges
Length isn’t the only beard consideration.
Tightening up the edges of your beard before an interview communicates you take pride in your appearance.
It’s another opportunity to show keen attention to detail.
Don’t forget the neck
While you are grooming your beard, don’t forget your neck.
This is another small detail that shows you are striving to look your best.
Keep it clean and odor-free
Beards can attract everything from food to bugs, so make sure you give it a good wash before the interview.
No one wants to see remains of your lunch hanging out in your beard!