What Not to Wear to a Job Interview

What Not to Wear to an Interview | Tips | Resume.com

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Making a good impression during an interview and understanding what not to wear can increase your chances of getting a job offer. The clothes you wear to an interview usually have an effect on the hiring manager, so it’s important to make sure you pick professional attire. Follow the tips in this article to learn more about what not to wear to your next interview.

Why is dressing professionally for an interview important?

When you dress professionally for a job interview, you show the employer that you respect them and their time. Though your clothing may not directly relate to the job you’re interviewing for, it can still affect the interviewer’s perception of you. Wearing clean, neat clothing gives off an organized, tidy appearance that hiring managers may seek.

Your attire often reflects your personality. While you want to show off some of your personality during the interview, there are still some general rules to follow when you pick out your interview outfit. Finding the right balance can help you make a positive impression while allowing the focus to remain on the interview.

What not to wear to an interview

Here is some apparel you should avoid wearing to your interview:

Too many accessories

Avoid wearing too many accessories to an interview. Too many rings, bracelets or necklaces could make your appearance seem busy. Similarly, big or bright accessories can be distracting. Opt for only a few pieces of modest jewelry and accessories.

Strong fragrances

Strong fragrances can distract interviewers, and many people are allergic to certain ingredients in perfumes and colognes. You can avoid wearing fragrance all together or keep it minimal so your interviewer can focus on your answers.

Flashy clothing

Flashy clothing can seem out of place in an interview setting. Avoid bright colors and large patterns unless the rest of your outfit is modest. For example, you could wear a bright shirt or blouse under a navy, brown or black blazer. Avoid wearing clothing that is too tight as well.

Casual attire

Even if the company dress code is casual, it’s best to give a positive impression by wearing professional attire. Avoid t-shirts, shorts, sneakers and workout attire. Hoodies, sweatshirts and any clothing with words on them are also best left in your closet.

If a hiring manager informs you that you can wear business casual clothing, you can opt for khakis or chinos, a button-down shirt or nice blouse and a blazer or sweater. You don’t need to wear a tie for business-casual dress, but it can make a good impression. You can button your shirt up to the collar or unbutton the top button for a more casual look.


If you wear headphones to listen to music or podcasts during your commute to the interview, make sure to put them in your bag before you enter the building. Keeping headphones around your neck can make you seem distracted.

Excessive piercings or tattoos

Some traditional employers may prefer candidates with few piercings and no visible tattoos. If possible, wear clothing that covers any tattoos to let interviewers focus only on the discussion. Don’t wear more than one set of modest earrings, and switch any other piercings for studs or retainers.

Dated clothing

Outdated clothing can make candidates seem like they’re also out of date in their industry. Avoid clothing that’s noticeably out of date, like large shoulder pads, pleated pants or jackets with wide lapels. You can wear classic pieces that never go out of style, like a trench coat or well-fitted, dark-colored, straight-leg pants.


Avoid wearing any type of sandals to an interview. It’s a business standard to not wear sandals in the workplace, and even most casual offices have a rule against this footwear. Leather or suede, close-toed shoes are best in most situations.

Stained or wrinkled clothing

Stained or wrinkled clothing can make a candidate seem disorganized. Stains can also be distracting during an interview. It’s important to inspect your clothes for stains or wrinkles before you leave your house. Trying an outfit on can help you notice any spots. Avoid wearing light clothing if possible since it’s easy to see stains on them.

Attire with holes

Don’t wear any clothing with holes or patches, which can seem unprofessional. Check for holes and any excessive wear in your shoes too. If necessary, take the time to polish or clean your shoes the night before.

Ill-fitting clothing

Clothing that doesn’t fit you right can make you feel uncomfortable, which isn’t something you should worry about during an interview. Wear your outfit for a while the night before your interview to ensure you can feel comfortable. If you plan to wear a pair of shoes you don’t wear often, practice walking in them until you’re confident with your steps.


Hats of any kind shouldn’t be part of your interview outfit. If you wear a hat during your commute, make sure you take it off and place it in your bag before entering the building. Since wearing a hat can change the appearance of your hair, it’s best to avoid them on your interview day altogether.

Unkempt hair

If your hair is tangled or disheveled, it can give you a disorganized appearance. If your hair hides most of your face, interviewers can find it distracting. Make sure to comb your hair or pull it back, and keep any facial hair neatly groomed.

Ankle or athletic socks

Don’t wear ankle socks that show any of your legs. You should also avoid athletic socks. Find socks that cover your leg when you sit down and cross your legs. It’s best to wear socks that are the same color scheme as your shoes or pants, though you can wear bright or patterned socks for a flash of color.

Cell phone

Keep your cell phone out of sight as soon as you enter the building. Make sure it’s silent or turned off until you leave. If you want something to do while you’re in reception or waiting for the interview to start, review any notes or questions you want to ask for final preparation.

Tips for finding an interview outfit

Here are some tips for finding a good interview outfit:

  • Check affordable stores for new clothing. If you’re applying for jobs where you’ll have a casual dress code or need to wear a uniform, you may not need a lot of professional attire. When you only need one or two professional interview outfits, look for clothing in stores within your price range. You can also search for sales for additional savings.
  • Search vintage and thrift stores. Vintage and thrift stores often have classic clothing that you can wear to an interview. You can also choose separate pieces to pair with a more modern article of clothing that you already have.
  • Borrow clothing. Ask a friend or family member if you can borrow a professional outfit if you don’t have anything in your closet. This can be a good option if buying new clothing isn’t in your budget.

Remember what you shouldn’t wear when you’re searching for your interview outfit.

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