Interview Fashion Faux Pas – What Not to Wear to an Interview

By Kristin Patterson

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “First impressions are lasting impressions.”  These are words to live by when preparing for an in-person interview.   A very important part of being hired for a job is making a good first impression.  The attire you choose for your interview may make or break your chances of being called back.  Not only can the clothing you choose to wear be a deal breaker, but also so can personal care extremes like taking a bath in your favorite cologne or perfume or caking on the make-up and/or hair products. And please don’t wear every piece of jewelry that you own (especially the gaudy and “loud” kind).  These interviewing faux pas can scare away even the hippest and laid-back interviewer!

Let me give you an example of one of my “Interviews Gone Bad.”  One candidate made an enormous interviewing attire mistake that haunts me to this day.

Let me preface this by saying that I prep every candidate who is going to an interview.  I give them advice on what to wear and even email them “Interviewing Tips for Success.”

This particular candidate obviously wasn’t paying attention to my advice or just didn’t care.  She showed up to her interview dressed in a very short, form fitting skirt and a blouse with a plunging neckline.  To add insult to injury, the skirt was crimson red to match her stiletto pumps.  When my client contacted me following the interview, he informed me of what she had worn and said she was the talk of the office.  I could still hear the faint giggling in the background.  I was mortified.  Safe to say, my candidate did NOT get the job.

The moral of the story is, be mindful when choosing your clothes for an interview.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your wardrobe to look professional.  When interviewing, make sure the overall design of your outfit fits the company’s culture and sends the right message. Let your recruiter suggest what is appropriate to wear.

Generally, for women, black slacks and a button-up blouse with or without a nice suit jacket looks great.  If you’re wearing a skirt or dress, make sure the hemline is at or below your knees.  Also, make sure it’s not so tight that it look like it’s painted on.  Give yourself some room to breathe!  As for shoes, I myself think that closed-toe heels or pumps are more professional, but if you have a nice pedicure, a pair of strappy sandals looks nice as well.

For men, it’s generally appropriate to wear a button-up shirt with a tie and slacks. A suit jacket may be overkill in most instances, since some work environments allow khakis and a polo shirt, but let your recruiter guide you as to the company’s culture. It’s also important to make sure your shoes are shined, not scuffed or worn-looking, and that your face is clean-shaven.

My last words of advice are, listen to your Staffing Manager.  We have your best interests in mind.  Your success is our success, and we will never lead you astray.  So go get dressed for success, and let’s land you your dream job!

Here’s what to say when your interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself!”

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