When you’re invited to a job interview, one wrong move can blow your chances. Even wearing the wrong thing can distract an employer from your polished resume and outstanding experience.
Before you schedule your next interview, be sure to review this list of the six worst things to wear for a job interview.
1. Ill-Fitting Clothes
If you haven’t worn your interview outfit recently, you might find it doesn’t fit the way it used to. Don’t try to pull it off, though. You won’t look your best and you won’t feel comfortable -- and it will show.
“Better to wear an outfit that is tailored to suit you, rather than anything that feels or looks too tight or too short,” says Stacy Lindenberg, owner of Talent Seed Consulting. “It may not only give the wrong impression, it may also be distracting. Tugging at your skirt hem, for example, is another distraction that takes away from the focus on you and your skills.”
2. Overly Casual Clothes
Even if you’re interviewing at a laid-back workplace, it’s still possible to take the casual concept too far, says Trevor Simm, founder and president of OpalStaff. “Do not wear jeans, tennis shoes, shorts, t-shirts, hats, flip-flops, or any garments with messages or brands written on them,” he says. “For men wearing a suit, do not wear loud, obnoxious colors, busy-printed shirts or overly patterned ties.” Take the conservative approach, and save the fun stuff for after you’ve got the job.
3. Anything Distracting
There’s a fine line between standing out and wearing something that’s just distracting. In the interview process, you should err on the side of caution and tone it down. “Better to choose subtle patterns over brighter ones, and dark or neutral clothing versus neon colors or anything distracting,” Lindenberg says. “You should be the focus of the interview, not your clothing.”
“Women should not wear anything too revealing or low cut,” Simm says. “No platform heels, no sun dresses, nothing too trendy. Make up and jewelry should also be toned down. For men
and women both, it's generally a good idea to stick with the basics: a black, blue, or grey suit and the associated conservative accoutrement."
4. Excessive Accessories
You might like to make a statement with your jewelry, but the job interview isn’t the time to do so, says Annette Richmond, executive editor of Career Intelligence. “Stay away from jewelry that jingle-jangles, which can be very distracting for an interviewer.”
Experts advise against wearing perfume and cologne as well. “You may feel like something is missing when you refrain from wearing your favorite fragrance, but this is one more thing that can be distracting during the interview,” Lindenberg says. “In addition, many people have sensitivity or allergies to fragrances. Play it safe!”
5. Something Very Different from What the Interviewer Suggested
It’s a good idea to ask about what’s expected of you when you’re setting up a job interview. “Always ask the point person that set up the interview for advice on what to wear,” says Carl Sharperson, vice president of the Kidder Group recruiting firm. “If you wear something that is significantly different than the instructions that you were given, then you stand a good chance of turning off the interviewers.”
6. The Obvious
“Never attend any interview with ill-fitting, sweat-stained, smelling like smoke, dog or cat hair covered clothing that looks like something you slept in,” says headhunter Michael Mayher. “Never wear the same ensembles you would wear out to a bar or nightclub with your friends.” Mayher also says “ridiculously sculpted fingernails” on women and “pointy shoes and contrasting socks” for men are no-nos.
“When in doubt, overdress for the first interview,” he says. “If you're an adult and need to be told these things you probably are not right for the job.”
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