interviewing wardrobe

7 Fashion Fails to Avoid During Your Job Interview

Updated By Staff Writer on July 13, 2020

Congratulations! You have a job interview! Just like you need to prepare yourself for the questions your interviewer is likely to ask, you need to prepare yourself for the impression you’re going to make on the people you meet. Your business administration or accounting degree isn’t going to be as impressive if you walk into the office looking like someone who works at a landscaping company. All the healthcare training in the world isn’t going to convince a hiring manager that you’re the mature and responsible candidate they’re looking for if you show up in jeans and a crop top. So what fashion blunders do you need to avoid when you’re job interviewing? Here are 7 vital mistakes to avoid, to help keep the focus of the interview, not your clothes.

  1. Wacky, unconventional accessories. Avoid wearing giant pieces of jewelry, or an excessive number of accessories, like a hand full of rings, a wrist full of bracelets, or a neck full of pendants like you are an impressive rapper. And definitely avoid wearing gauges and jewelry in any facial piercings—you want the interviewer to pay attention to what you’re saying and not be distracted by the number of holes in your face or bangles jingling around on your arm.
  1. Extreme makeup or hairstyles. Unless you’re interviewing for a cosmetology position, it’s a good idea to avoid extreme makeup or hairstyles. Dark, bold makeup might look good for hitting the club, but that is definitely not a side of yourself you want to display in your interview. Keep makeup subtle and natural so it doesn’t take away from what you have to say. Also, these days it’s not uncommon to find hair in any color of the rainbow—some all on one head—but keep things as simple and natural as possible for an interview. Rather than a full head of pink hair, consider maybe a few hidden streaks in your natural color. It’s essential that the interviewer develops their opinion of you on your knowledge and merits, rather than your hair color of the week.
  1. Unprofessional shoes. Sandals, heeled or not, are much too casual for an interview. And by all means, do not wear flip-flops. If you wear flip-flops, there is no hope for you at all. Choose a shoe that looks the part--clean, polished, and professional. Men—avoid shoes with rubber soles and squared toes as these are much too casual.
  1. Obviously old, wrinkled, or stained clothes. This should be a no-brainer—you need to look neat, pulled together, crisp, clean, and professional. Check your clothes carefully for rips, stains, fading, unraveling, and holes. Iron your outfit the night before and hang it up, or get it professionally pressed if you are hopeless with an iron. Have someone else take a look at the outfit you’re thinking about wearing, so they can catch any flaws you might have missed.
  1. Denim. In some creative industries, like graphic arts and computer programming, interview standards tend to be slightly more relaxed, and an interviewee can—depending on the company!—wear jeans with a blazer. But the jeans must be neat, new, clean and unwrinkled, not novelty jeans with rips and bleach stains. But for 99% of industries, avoid wearing jeans at all costs, as most companies find them too casual for an interview. And even if you’ve graduated from a graphic arts program or have a computer programming degree, never, ever wear a denim jacket or blazer to an interview.

  2. Short skirts, leggings, capris. You might have great legs, but wearing a miniskirt is unprofessional. Hemlines should hit around knee length: just above, at, or below. Leggings are still up for debate as to whether they actually count as pants or not, but regardless of your stance on the issue, avoid them in the workplace. Ankle pants have become a staple in most women’s wardrobes in recent years and can tie together a very professional look; however, capris are still a no-go.

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  1. Something completely inappropriate for the industry. Every industry has its own expectations when it comes to fashion in the workplace. While a trendy outfit showing a little skin may be acceptable if you work in fashion, it is definitely not appropriate for Wall Street. Acquaint yourself with the dress code not only for the industry you desire to pursue, but also the specific office you’re interviewing with, to make sure you look the part. This way, the interviewer sees how smoothly you’ll blend in with the office dynamics.

In the end, your potential employer likely doesn’t care if you have tattoos, prefer to dress more creatively to express yourself, or wear a lot of jewelry, but an interview is not the place to make a fashion statement. It’s important to convey a specific impression of a serious and reliable professional. When you dress neatly and professionally, you become the focus of your interview, not how you look or what you’re wearing. So keep things neutral, modest, and professional to make sure the only statement you’re making is coming from your mouth, not your appearance. If you’re on the job hunt and you’re interested in starting a career in a new field, a degree from CollegeAmerica could be just the thing you’re looking for. Find out more today!