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What Not to Wear (To Your Next Job Interview)

Interview Advice

Recruiting Solutions’ blog aims to deliver practical information and thoughtful insights from our staffing specialists on a wide range of topics, ranging from job market trends to interview tips.  Why? We believe in the value of a rewarding work environment for both our candidates and our clients. We want to help candidates discover how they can best prepare for success! 

What Not To Wear (To Your Next Job Interview)

Contributed by Laura Burkett, CSP

The TV show on TLC of the same name as this post features a new “fashion victim” in each episode.  These participants have been nominated by their friends and families to undergo an intensive wardrobe overhaul under the direction of two charming stylists.

Why are most of these nominees sent on this once-in-a-lifetime shopping spree?  It’s because the way they dress does not reflect their true intelligence and professionalism, and their friends want to help them to achieve their full potential.  Choosing your interview attire doesn’t need to be as dramatic as a reality TV show, but remember that the way you dress makes a strong impression – and you want it to be a positive one! 



Command the respect of your future employer by steering clear of the following:

1. Graphic Tees

Interview standards have become more relaxed in recent years, and a formal “interview suit” may no longer be necessary in many situations.  However, graphic tees will distract from your qualifications, and sometimes feature language or images that could be considered offensive.  Even in the most casual of environments, opt for a solid color, neatly pressed tee or a collared polo in a solid, neutral color.  Let your experience – not your clothing – speak for itself.

2. Hats

The next time you watch a sporting event, pay attention to the National Anthem.  You’ll notice that the men remove their hats as a sign of respect.  You should show the same respect to your interviewer. It’s that simple.

3. Jeans

This one can be tricky, depending on the position for which you are applying.  If you do your research and decide that the company culture is more relaxed or industrial, jeans may be acceptable.  However, jeans should always be clean, neat, well-fitting, free of rips and holes, and preferably a darker shade of blue.  This is ultimately a judgment call, but always err on the side of over-dressed rather than under-dressed.   If you have any doubts, skip the jeans and opt for khakis or slacks.  Sweatpants, athletic wear, or pajamas pants are never appropriate interview attire – leave those at home where they belong!

4. Headphones/Cell Phones/Bluetooth Devices

It’s becoming more common to see people wearing headphones as part of a daily wardrobe.  It’s also common to see people seemingly talking to themselves while walking or driving, when they are actually on the phone using a Bluetooth device.  Are these items convenient?  Yes.  Are they interview appropriate?  No.  Leave ALL electronics in your car or at home.

5. A Cloud of Smoke or Heavy Cologne/Perfume

You have the freedom to smoke if you choose, but avoid doing so before an interview.  Some people are extremely sensitive to the lingering smell, and it can also be very distracting.  Many people also have allergies to strong perfume scents, so it’s best to skip the scented products after your shower.  Don’t set yourself apart based on the interviewer’s sense of smell!

6. Flashy Jewelry and Accessories

Have you noticed a common theme here?  These can be very distracting, and may come off as unprofessional in certain environments.  Ultimately, minimal accessories and neat attire are your best bet for keeping the focus on you and your stellar qualifications! 

Think you’re ready to interview?  Apply with us now on our Job Opportunities page.

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