7 Things To Avoid Wearing in a Job Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

December 3, 2021

What you wear to an interview can be equally as important as the skills stated in your resume. The choice of clothes and how you present yourself should communicate confidence and a good work ethic. In this article, we will discuss what not to wear to an interview, what you should wear to a job interview, and the importance of appropriate attire in the interview process.

The importance of your job interview attire

There are a few good reasons why you should pay close attention to what you wear to a job interview. The first is making a good impression on your interviewer and anyone at the workplace you meet. First impressions are critical, so your appearance will say a lot about your personality and level of professionalism. 

Another reason why you need to make careful decisions about your attire is a company’s culture. You must show that you fit in the company, so you want to dress similarly to what current workers at the company are wearing.

Ultimately, you want to stand out as a top candidate with the right skills while not turning off the interviewer with your outfit or attire choices. What you wear should complement and enhance your professional skills and experience.

Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

What you should not wear to a job interview

You should try to avoid wearing the following items to a job interview due to their inappropriate or distracting nature:

  1. Casual clothing

  2. Sandals or flip-flops

  3. Poorly fitting clothes or shoes

  4. Flashy clothes or jewelry

  5. Stained or wrinkled clothing

  6. Too much makeup

  7. Heavy perfume or cologne

1. Casual clothing

Aim to dress in professional attire, even if interviewing for a company with a relaxed dress code. While you do not want to appear too formal, you should choose to dress in clothing that represents your qualifications.

No matter the company, you should always refrain from wearing torn clothing, like ripped jeans, even if that is a style. Denim and jeans should be avoided because it appears unprofessional in most settings.

You should avoid wearing T-shirts, especially novelty shirts or anything with art or wording. Graphic T-shirts can be distracting because the employer’s eyes will be drawn to the design instead of the person wearing the shirt.

Do not wear gym attire, like sweatpants, as this likely conveys a lack of seriousness in the interview. If it seems as if you do not care about your appearance, the interviewer may conclude you don’t care about the job.

2. Sandals or flip-flops

Just like sweatpants and ripped jeans, sandals and flip-flops are too casual. While you may be relaxed while wearing this type of footwear, it does not look professional.

3. Poorly fitting clothing or shoes

You want to be comfortable when you are doing a job interview, so you should wear well-fitting clothing that both enhance your appearance and are appropriate in a professional setting.

It is important to wear shoes that complement your outfit and also fit well. When you wear shoes that are difficult or awkward to walk in, you will act uncomfortable during your job interview so invest in footwear you will feel good walking in and wearing in the workplace.

4. Flashy clothes or jewelry

Avoid wearing clothes that show too much skin or your undergarments. You do not want to have a bare midriff or low-cut neckline.

If you have tattoos on your arms or lower legs, you may choose to cover them during the interview as body art can be distracting. Also, some companies may have policies about tattoos so check ahead of time. Be conservative with piercings. Nose rings and other facial piercings may be prohibited by the company.

Unless you are applying for a job in the fashion industry, avoid wearing clothing that is overly flashy or trendy. Steer clear of distracting jewelry, such as overly large earrings, and choose simple pieces that complement your outfit. You should also avoid wearing necklaces that are too ornate and wearing more than one bracelet. Noisy bracelets or bangles could cause a distraction during your interview.

5. Stained or wrinkled clothing

You want to make a good impression, and stained clothing will do the opposite. Not only are stains embarrassing, but they are distracting and cause you to look sloppy. Like stained clothing, wrinkled clothing makes for a careless appearance.

6. Too much makeup

Tastefully done makeup should accentuate your facial features. If you wear heavy makeup or bold colors, this could be distracting and take away from a positive interview.

7. Heavy perfume or cologne

While it is important to smell good during your job interview, heavy perfumes or colognes can be distracting, and possibly aggravate people’s allergies so use sparingly or not at all for the day of the interview.

What you should wear to a job interview

For most companies, conservative interview attire is a safe option. Choose clean, well-fitting clothing that evokes confidence and professionalism.

Wear clothes that are appropriate for the industry and the job you are applying for. For example, if you are interviewing for a job in an attorney’s firm, a business dress or a suit may be the most appropriate. If you are interviewing for an internship at a tech start-up, you can choose business casual clothing that best fits with the company dress code.

Jeans may be appropriate for certain jobs. For example, you may be allowed to wear darker (usually black) jeans for a workplace with a relaxed dress code. Otherwise, you may want to choose khaki or dark-colored pants. Watches are a safe option as long as they complement the rest of the outfit.

Some tips for dressing appropriately

Here are five tips for wearing attire that makes a good impression on your interviewer:

1. Plan ahead

If your interview is in a few days, figure out several conservative options and figure out if you need something new to accompany your existing pieces.

2. Do sensible shopping

Investing in classic business attire may be a good idea, especially if you are just beginning your job search. Find pieces that can be worn with numerous outfits and have a timeless style.

3. Get input from friends and family

If you can, ask for the opinion of family or close friends on your interview attire. They can give you honest feedback and guide you in choosing clothing that complements your body type.

4. Research the company dress code

Call the company where you are interviewing and ask about appropriate interview attire. They can guide your choices according to dress-code policy. Check out the company website and look at images of workers or take a look at what people are wearing as they depart the office or head to their vehicle in the parking lot. 

5. Wear what makes you feel comfortable

When you wear an outfit that is free of distractions and feels good on you, then you’re more likely to be able to focus on the interview and your responses to questions and really show your confidence.

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