In job interviews, employers review how you present yourself, how you answer questions, and what your body language suggests. Employers also pay attention to what you wear. For example, flashy clothes can distract them from your answers, while dressing too casually may signal that you do not take the opportunity seriously. Understanding what not to wear to an interview is just as important as knowing what to wear.
10 Guidelines for What Not To Wear to an Interview
In general, avoid wearing T-shirts, jeans, hats, and the like even if your session is online. There can always be exceptions, though, so research the company to find out what previous job candidates have to say about their interview experiences.
1. Items That Conflict with the Company’s Culture and Interview Requirements
Before you go through your closet, take a few minutes to find out more about the company. You may be able to discover dress code requirements, for example. Online reviews and blog posts might indicate that you should wear very traditional clothes or feel free to be as creative and artistic as you would like.
If you are in doubt, reach out to current employees or your hiring contact. Ask what is recommended to wear to interviews. It can get confusing if you are interviewing at a startup where the dress code is casual. The employer might still expect job candidates to dress up for interviews.
2. Casual Clothes
Unless you are certain that casual clothes are preferable for job interviews, bypass them. They are a big chunk of what not to wear to an interview.
It’s safer to err on the side of formality. Jeans, T-shirts, and tennis shoes signal that you are not serious about the interview. A formal suit or dress pants with a shirt and tie should send a better message.
3. Flashy Colors
Basic colors such as black, gray, brown, navy blue, and white typically are best for job interviews. Flashy or overly bright colors could hurt your chances.
As always, though, there could be exceptions. Interviews at fashion magazines or creative agencies may mean fewer restrictions.
4. Wrinkled Attire
Wrinkled clothes are never OK. No matter who the employer is, clothes that aren’t properly cleaned and pressed show you could not be bothered to prepare properly for an interview or do not know the proper etiquette. Anything wrinkled or stained firmly belongs in the category of what not to wear to an interview.
5. Strong Fragrances
Strong cologne and fragrances are another hard no. You have no idea if your interviewers are sensitive to strong scents. Even if they are not, they may take note of your fragrances and assume it means you do not care about possibly bothering other people. It is better to stick to a subtle fragrance or skip one altogether.
6. Inappropriate Accessories
Hats, sunglasses, and large chains are not good choices to wear for an interview They are distracting and do not help you position yourself as a serious candidate. However, it is fine to wear more lowkey items such as your wedding ring or watch.
7. Anything Restrictive
It is critical that you feel comfortable. A suit that is too tight may restrict your freedom of movement or make you paranoid that a button will pop. These fears are likely to affect how easily and smoothly you interact with interviewers.
Make it a rule to avoid wearing restrictive clothing to job interviews. If it has been a while since you put on your good suit, try it on to make sure it still fits. It can be a bit of a blow to your self-confidence if you have gained weight and must shop for a new suit, but it is much better than the alternative. What not to wear to an interview includes anything that makes you less confident.
In a similar vein, don’t wear anything too loose, either. If you have lost weight, get clothes that don’t hang off you. A proper fit tells the company you cared enough to take the time to prepare for the interview.
If your interview is online, you may want to dress as you would for an in-person interview, including the shoes. That way, you don’t stress about what interviewers might see if something goes awry.
8. Faded Clothing
Speaking of older clothes, your go-to attire may have become too faded to keep wearing. It happens. For example, the vibrancy of colors can degrade over time or in the wash.
You may want to just make a general rule of not wearing anything that is more than five years old. These stains, holes, and rips might be more visible than you believe. Getting new threads ensures you’re on trend with current styles, too.
9. Casual Shoes
Shoes are easy to forget about until the last minute, but they matter quite a bit. Steer clear of flip-flops, sandals, sneakers, and tennis shoes. They are an essential part of what not to wear to an interview.
Good shoes to wear could include freshly polished brown or black leather shoes, or footwear with a zip or buckle to showcase your unique personality. Even boots could be acceptable depending on the office’s dress code.
Break in your shoes before the interview. Some guys make the mistake of shopping for brand-new shoes and letting them sit in the box until the morning of the interview. These guys are at higher risk of developing blisters and limps. Recruiters and interviewers notice if you’re in pain or not comfortable.
10. Offensive Language
Don’t wear T-shirts, necklaces, or other items with curse words or offensive language. Even if you’re interviewing at a company filled with people who have strong convictions and passionate causes, it is better to stay on your tamer side.
What Not To Wear to an Interview: Play It Safe
Figuring out what not to wear to an interview can be straightforward. You are almost always OK dressing in business attire. Even interviewers who work at the most creative companies and are used to interviewing people in casual clothes see their fair share of candidates in suits and ties. For more on attire and accessories, check out these blog posts on Rugged Standard.