Nobody really likes going to a job interview, but unfortunately, it’s kind of necessary if you want a job.  There are so many things to worry about already—how to dress, what kind of questions to ask, what to say about your previous job, and more.  If you have a beard, another thing to worry about is whether you should wear a beard to an interview.

Whether you should shave your beard before an interview depends on your confidence level with your beard.  If you worry that your beard will hurt your chances in an interview, employers will notice your nervousness.   Make sure your beard is trimmed for an interview and that your smile will be readily apparent.

It would be nice if there was a simple yes or no answer, but life is not always that simple.  Read on as we go over the pros and cons of shaving before an interview so that you make an informed decision.

The Case for Beards

Plenty of people with beards get hired, so why not you?  If the beard is part of your personality or identity, then by shaving it off, you are saying that your identity is not as important as what the company wants.  Do you want to work for a company like that?

In other words, are the values of the company in line with your values?  If you will be judged by whether you have a well-groomed beard or not, instead of by your experience, the company might be too image-oriented for your liking.  

An argument you will hear from the shave-your-beard crowd is that you can always grow it back.  Is that realistic, though?  If the company won’t hire you because of your beard, then why will they be okay with you sporting one later?

Finally, if you shave, there’s a chance that your skin will not look right after you shave your beard.  Men sometimes report that their skin darkens after shaving.  The effect is called hyper-pigmentation, and it happens as a response to the scraping of a blade on a face that hasn’t seen a razor in quite some time.  And though there are shaving creams that can help reduce a razor’s effects, do you want to take that chance?

The Case Against Beards

Several arguments can be made for shaving your beard.  The most common one is that your employer will think you are more serious about the job if you take the time to shave.

Some people still believe that men who don’t shave are lazier than men who take a razor to their skin daily.  

Another reason to shave is that it eliminates a possible strike against you.  Whether it is fair or not, many times interviewers are looking for who they can eliminate.  It’s like the advice about proofreading your resume—having an error-free resume does not help you but having one with errors hurts.

The final reason to shave the beard:  it will grow back.  If you are in the job market, you will likely be going through the interview ritual more than you would like.  So get in the habit of daily shaving until you have gotten the job.

Does the Kind of Beard Matter?

The type of beard matters some, but the kind of job probably matters even more.   Generally speaking, a full, untamed “lumbersexual” beard will be counted against you—unless that kind of beard fits into that profession’s image.  Someone working in tech can sport a fuller beard, but a banker should have a short, trimmed beard—if he has one at all.

The more image-conscious your profession, the more likely they will prefer that you be clean-shaven.  Hiring managers in financial industries will most likely not consider a beard a sign of professionalism.  The same is true for sales industries, since bearded men are considered less friendly.

What Does the Research Say?

If you need advice on what to say or not to say, how to answer specific questions, how to appear confident, you will find so much advice that your head will spin.  So there should be plenty of information about beards, right?  

Wrong.  Apparently, researchers have not found beards and job interviews to be worth studying. Many of the available studies are over 30 years old, before beards were “in.”  But beards are much more popular, so there should be more recent research.  If you want to decide based on research, here’s what you will find:

  • To Shave or Not to Shave.  This study (from 2014) looked at LinkedIn profiles and how job candidates were perceived.  The results found that men with beards were perceived as having more expertise. For jobs where trustworthiness was important (like a bank cashier) or attractiveness (a salesman), having a beard was not seen as a way to get more job interviews on LinkedIn.

  • 5 Scientific Things That Happen to Men When They Grow Beards.  This article is full of studies about how beards affect men, everything from protecting men from skin cancer, being seen as more manly, and if women find men with beards more attractive (it’s complicated), but nothing about beards and finding work.

  • Psychology Today:  What Does Having a Beard Say About a Man?   In this study from Australia, researchers discovered that people quickly classify angry bearded men as angry and more quickly thought that clean-shaven men were happy.   But in a second study, researchers found that bearded men were rated as more helpful and friendly when they smiled.

  • For Hims:  Survey Results—Can I Have Facial Hair During a Job Interview?  In this survey, 40% of the respondents said they interviewed for their jobs while having their beard, and another 20% while having a mustache.  However, all the respondents wore beards, and none were hiring managers.

Although you can find plenty of advice about whether you should shave your beard or not, most of it is based on people’s opinions, not research.

Do Your Research

If you are still sitting on the fence, then research the firm.  Check out their Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages.  Do the men have facial hair?  How formally are the employees dressed?  A laid-back company will be more likely to be okay with a trimmed beard.

Bottom Line

Although some people suggest you should go ahead and shave your beard before an interview, the issue is more complicated than to shave or not to shave.  The type of job, the company’s vibe, and your personality come into play as well.  In some fields, the expertise points of a beard are an advantage.  Since men with beards are rated less trustworthy, a job where trust is essential might require you to shave.

Ultimately, you need to feel confident in the interview, so after you have weighed the pros and cons, if you still have doubts, you might want to shave.  But if you like your beard, feel confident in your abilities, and want to work someplace where authenticity and personality are prized, then keep it.