What NOT to Wear at an Interview

First impressions are important. The decision to hire an applicant can be made in the first few seconds of meeting you. You will be judged by your appearance to determine if you are neat, concerned with details, understated or dramatic. An employer will even look at your clothing to determine if you understand the type of work you will be doing.

Rule #1: Dress the Part

The most important thing is to dress the part. Imagine you are going to a casting call for movie extras. And whether they pick you for a role is based on how good your costume is.  If the scene is set in the winter, you wouldn’t show up in shorts.

You should look like everyone else who already works there. However, you should not look like everyone else who is applying. What you want to show your future employer that you already “fit.” Dress as though they will hire you on the spot as long as you don’t have to go home to change.

Shorts and Flip Flops

Unless you are applying to be a lifeguard or summer camp counselor, shorts are out. Pants should be clean with no rips. If the company uniform is khaki pants, that’s what you wear. For ladies, skirts should be a comfortable length, pretty close to the knee, with no tugging required.

Shoes should be comfortable and meet any OSHA guidelines for the job. Does this factory floor require non-slip or steel toes? You should know that and dress accordingly.

Tight Fitting Clothes

Find a shirt that fits. You are about to be asked tons of questions about your work ethic and job experience. Do you really want to think all that up while holding your breath? Comfortable clothes give comfortable answers.  So put away the guns, Muscle Man.


Look around the job site. Does everyone have their own hard hat? So should you. The rest of the crew is wearing hair nets? Where is yours? All the other truckers have hats? Get one fast!

At most jobs, no one wears a hat. Neither should you. A hat says you have something to hide — hat head, baldness, or white hair with green streaks. Be honest about who you are by removing the hat. Hair style should be well-kept and boring, unless you are applying to a hair salon.

Gobs of Make Up and Suffocating Perfume

Light and natural are the way to go. Don’t “cake on” the make up or “stink up” the office. Strong perfumes, aftershave or colognes often give hiring managers headaches. You don’t want the interviewer to remember you as “the one that gave me the asthma attack.”

Cell Phones and Accessories

Leave the cell phone in the car. The interviewer is taking time away from their job responsibilities. Do not interrupt your time with them to answer calls or glance at TXTs.

Purses should be small and understated. Portfolios and briefcases should be easily operated.

Never chew gum. Instead, chew up a mint just before arrival. Don’t carry a rattling container of them.

Noisy jewelry, lots of piercings, and colorful tattoos distract employers from why you are the best applicant. Reduce these distractions and help them see the real you.