What NOT to wear on an interview

I’ve had to get dressed for my fair share of interviews. I work in a fairly creative field (communications and graphic design) so I’m able to break out of the “MUST WEAR PANTSUITS” model for interviews. I still tend to wear a blazer and either a dress, long pants or a skirt. I suppose I still have a uniform of sorts when going on interviews. I feel regardless of what type of job you’re interviewing for, there are some general rules you should follow about what to wear and what not to wear. Today I’m going to talk about what NOT to wear on an interview. Unless you don’t want the job, then, by all means.

what NOT to wear for an interview

1. If it looks like something you’d wear to prom.

2. If it’s ripped, has holes, or is some kind of denim.

3. Anything short. If you can’t bend over without flashing your panties, save it.

4. General rule- if it’s shorter than an inch above your knees, don’t wear it. Some people are very conservative and that’s not OK in an office environment. (It’s always better to err on the side of caution/conservative until you learn the rules of a specific environment.)

5. Six-inch heels or heels you can’t walk in. Seriously. Just don’t.

6. A wedding dress. I know you want to wear it more than once, but unless you’re working at a wedding dress shop, not a good plan.

7. If it looks like you’re going clubbing or stayed up all night drinking, no.

8. Anything with sheer panels or cutouts. Save that for later.

9. Tops with words or phases on them. It’s great that you love unicorns. But you don’t need your potential employers to know that until you cover your desk with figurines.

10. Anything that resembles lingerie. Unless you’re working as a stripper or a lingerie shop. Then, by all means!

11. Sneakers or flip-flops. Or anything spiked.

Basically you don’t want to look like you’re going to the beach or a party or a wedding. You want to look professional and polished, and it’s possible to do that without sacrificing your own personal style. I usually pick something neutral, like a grey blazer, dark pants, or a black dress. Add something with flair and color, like a printed top or a statement necklace. You want to look comfortable in your outfit and you don’t want to give an interviewer a reason to not invite you back for a second interview. It’s always better to head off to an interview dressed more conservatively. My previous office was casual to the point where the CEO wore sweatpants, except when it came to interviews. If it was an interview day the CEO, directors and managers would dress in suits, dresses, etc. They knew they were presenting themselves as a potential place of employment and also needed to dress the part.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

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6 thoughts on “What NOT to wear on an interview

  1. Even interviewers end up with interview uniforms – we did a round of interviews last winter, and the three of us on the board were hilariously dressed almost exactly the same – my manager and I both in black dresses, black knee high boots, and a shot of purple (her: cardigan, me: tights) and the HR dude in black pants and a purple shirt.

  2. it is seriously amazing to me that anyone would not know this but it’s true – people amaze me sometimes with what they show up in! I had someone show up with a fleece on, who really wanted the job. I guess to add to this – even if the job is mostly field work, still interview as if you are working in an office to err on the side of caution and hiring managers know you’re a serious candidate.

    • That’s such a great point to make. I feel like young candidates are being told what to put on their resume but not what to wear to an interview. Maybe it needs to be added to curriculum or something. It’s important and people will judge you for it (good OR bad!).

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