What Not to Wear to a Job Interview

People sitting in a row, waiting for job interview
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What you wear to a job interview can positively or negatively influence your chances of getting a job. Therefore, you want to dress properly, so that your clothes give the best impression, as they play a large part in communicating who you are to the interviewer. Your aim is to dress professionally and respectfully to send the message that you are serious about the position and confident that you can perform the role successfully.

To make a good first impression, you should dress appropriately by separating your social image from your professional presence. Even if you're interviewing at a start-up with a casual dress code, it's important to dress professionally to ensure that you communicate success.

What Not to Wear to a Job Interview

Wearing certain items could give the impression that you don't take pride in your appearance, or that you don't respect the company and interviewer. It's best to avoid wearing the following:

  • Flip-flops or sneakers
  • Undergarments that are visible to others, such as boxer briefs, lacy camisoles, and bra straps
  • Shorts
  • Jeans
  • Skirts that are too short
  • Pants that are low-rise, distressed, or tight
  • Blouses that are low-cut or short
  • Body jewelry such as nose and lip rings

Clothes should be neat and clean, and appropriately cover private areas such as the chest, stomach, back, and upper thighs.

Remember that you are not yet an employee, so it's a good rule to always dress professionally regardless of an interviewer's dress code.

Trendy vs. Classic

Consider the following tips to determine your interview outfit:

  • Wear a classic interview suit or outfit. Select clothing that is appropriate for your career field or industry.
  • Be cautious of trendy outfits. Err on the side of dressing conservatively when you interview, as your idea of trendy may differ from that of the interviewer.
  • Shop wisely. Visit outlets, shop sales, shop online, and use coupons to get the most mileage out of your interview budget.
  • Plan ahead. Have one classic interview outfit on hand, so you're prepared for future interviews.

Your attire should either match or exceed the type and quality of attire worn by your interviewers.

Your Professional Presence

When you show up for an interview, you're there to make a strong positive first impression, not to create a distraction. Therefore, don't wear risque clothing, strong scent, body jewelry or clothing that shows off your tattoos, which communicate a social rather than professional presence. You risk having people form snap judgments that could prevent you from succeeding in the interview or landing the job. Be mindful of the following:

  • Your social vs. professional presence: What you wear off-the-job and socially doesn't have to be what you wear for interviewing or at work. In fact, your professional presence may be very different from your personal presence, and that's fine. You can have a closet full of fun clothes and a wardrobe of work clothes.
  • Perfume and cologne: Your scent can be an issue. It can be distracting and remind your interviewer of a similarly scented person they would prefer to forget, such as an ex-spouse. This could reduce your chances of getting a job offer. Therefore, wearing no scent is the best choice.
  • Pantyhose: The question of whether women should wear pantyhose on a job interview creates a lot of discussion. Pantyhose are a good choice, as they give a professional appearance that pairs up well with a professional outfit. Bare legs communicate a more casual look that will not match well with a business skirt.
  • Tattoos and piercings: Consider covering your tattoos and removing your facial rings. These do not give a professional appearance, and some companies have policies that limit both.

Conclusion

When you are dressing for a job interview, how you present yourself is a key factor in conveying who you are as a potential hire. You want to dress conservatively and professionally, so the interviewer focuses on what you are saying, not on your revealing outfit, sneakers, or tattoo-covered arm. Your image is the first impression given to a potential employer, so make sure it communicates success to increase your chances of getting the job.