Men who have been through a series of unsuccessful job interviews are concerned that perhaps they're dressing incorrectly and that's why...

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Men who have been through a series of unsuccessful job interviews are concerned that perhaps they’re dressing incorrectly and that’s why they didn’t get the job.

Some say they feel overdressed when they’re in a business suit and the interviewer is dressed casually; others feel uncomfortable in the opposite situation. What’s a man to do?

Though the rule of thumb is to wear a business suit, observers of office fashion tell me it’s essential for male job seekers to be aware that the way men dress for a job interview is just as important as it is for women.

After that, opinions vary:

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In responding to the concern of a man who wore a business suit to an interview only to find the hiring manager was in slacks, a shirt and no tie, Robbie Anderson, an executive assistant in Douglasville, Ga., says this: “While it’s very probable that the business suit alone was not responsible for his not receiving a job offer, it did show a lack of sensitivity to the corporate culture.”

Anderson has noticed that executives pay “as much attention to those intangibles such as how you dress as to other aspects of the decision-making process. … Where ‘business casual’ is the dress code, the business suit gives an indication that the candidate has not entirely done his homework — and might be too rigid in outlook and tastes to truly fit in.”

The executive assistant adds that “it’s a sad commentary on the competitiveness of the job market today that job seekers have to concern themselves with what should be a no-brainer. But it does underscore the need for preparation prior to meeting for that all-important interview.”

Bill Krieger, of Elk Grove Village, Ill., a retired vice president of information systems, sides with the idea of male job seekers always wearing a business suit — no matter what.

He encourages job applicants to “wear a suit to an interview for an office job. We were ‘office casual’ where I used to work, but it always is a great first impression when an applicant shows up appropriately dressed.”

Krieger remembers asking when a job applicant he was sure would be hired should be put on the payroll. The boss said he didn’t want to hire him.

“I was floored because the guy had all the technical skills my department needed,” said Krieger.

His boss explained that the applicant “had button-down collars without the buttons fastened. If he can’t get his collar fastened, I don’t want him in my office.”

And Krieger thinks he was right: “As an applicant, you have one chance to make the correct impression and land that job. Make it count!”

Praise the boss! “Everyone needs kind words. … In giving praise, especially to someone in power, it’s important to be sincere and unencumbered by a hidden agenda,” advises Beverly Langford, author of “The Etiquette Edge: The Unspoken Rules for Business Success,” (Amacon, $14.95). “Heaping praise on a superior can create suspicion — in both the receiver and anyone else within earshot — so it’s critical that your words come across as genuine.”

Langford, president of a consulting, training and coaching firm in Atlanta, adds this: “Pick your spots carefully to deliver these compliments. If you’re there with a gushy commendation every time the boss speaks to the troops, you will develop a reputation for being sycophantic and self-serving.”

E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at ckleiman@tribune.com. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.