What Not to Wear on a Job Interview for Teens

It's important that teens applying for jobs dress professionally for any job interview. By looking polished, teens will impress their potential employers and convey themselves as mature, responsible, and ready to work.

Unfortunately, the clothes you might wear every day to hang out with friends and family usually aren't suitable for an interview. The makeup and accessories you wear might not be appropriate either.

One way to learn how to dress for an interview is to look at examples of what not to wear.

What to Avoid Wearing to a Job Interview for Young Women

Female applicant being interviewed by young managers
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There's a good chance that an outfit you might wear to hang out with friends or even to school isn't appropriate for an interview. For example, as seen in this picture, shorts and spaghetti-strap tops aren't acceptable for a job interview.

Avoid anything that is too casual, like denim and flip flops. Try replacing your jean shorts with khakis, or replace your spaghetti-strap top with a button-down or polo shirt. Instead of flip flops or flashy sneakers, put on a nice pair of sandals or flats. Remember that a clean, professional look is always key. 

What to Avoid Wearing to a Job Interview for Young Men

Young man at job interview
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Like women, men should also avoid anything that looks too casual. For example, baseball caps, or any other type of hats, shouldn't be worn in an interview. Also, young men should avoid wearing jerseys or athletic shirts, and opt for a professional button-down or polo shirt instead. Make sure anything you wear fits you well and is not too loose or too tight.

Don't Dress Too Casually

Young people dressed casual for an interview
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Avoid clothes that are considered too casual. For example, don’t wear shirts that show your belly, or pants that are too tight (or too loose). Remember that most clothing you would wear on the street is most likely not suitable for an interview. It's important to look sharp and professional.

Instead of casual, try business casual attire. For women, this could mean khaki plans with a cardigan or polo shirt, or a skirt and top. For men, this might mean dress pants and a button-down shirt or sweater.

Even if the job you are applying for requires casual clothing (like a lifeguard or camp counselor), you still want to look put together for the interview.

Leave the Hoodie at Home

Young women wearing hooded shirt
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Young men (and women) should avoid hoodies or any shirt or jacket that you wear with the hood up. Wearing a hood makes you look like you don’t want to be seen, which might make you appear uninterested in the job or the interviewer. Also, this look is too casual for an interview.

Dressing up is always better than dressing down when you're trying to get hired. It's important to make the best impression you can, regardless of the job you're interviewing for.

Turn Off Your Phone or Keep it on Silent

Young lady using smartphone on train platform
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Phone use in an interview should be avoided—including texting. To avoid temptation, store your phone where it's out of sight and keep it on silent (not on “vibrate,” as the sound might distract you and the interviewer).

Put your phone away (and any headphones) before walking into the office. It is considered proper etiquette to walk into the building ready for the interview.

Don't Bring a Drink, Food, or Chew Gum

Woman smiling during interview holding a cup of coffee.
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Only bring to the interview the things you need. Don't arrive at the interview with a coffee or soda. Leave any food behind as well. All of these things make you look distracted and unprepared.

Also, don't chew gum on your interview. Not only does gum chewing look unprofessional, but it can also hinder your ability to communicate and can be distracting to your interviewer. It's always a good idea to throw your gum away before you arrive at the interview.

There are some things you should bring to an interview, however. Bring a resume and any other requested materials. Also bring a pen and paper to take notes. You might want to bring a professional-looking bag or tote to carry all of your items.

Don't Overdo Your Makeup

Powder blowing from makeup brushes
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For teenagers applying for a job, too much makeup won't be much help. Layering on foundation, blush, lip gloss, and eye makeup is too distracting for an interview. While it's good to look well-groomed and pulled together, this can be achieved with minimal makeup. Keep your makeup simple, and remember that a natural look is best.

Keep this rule in mind when doing your hair as well. Keep your hair simple—either put it up in a bun or ponytail or wear it down.

Similarly, whether you are a man or woman, avoid too many accessories. While a simple necklace or bracelet is fine, avoid anything too distracting.

Avoid Too Much Perfume or Cologne

Young woman spraying perfume on wrist
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Your perfume or cologne should not be able to be detected by your interviewer. Keep your perfume or cologne use to a minimum, so it doesn't become a distraction. In fact, you might want to avoid any scented sprays, just to be safe.

Just make sure you are clean and well-groomed.