We get it: interviews can be daunting, and you’ve got a lot to worry about. But, whether you like it or not, an interviewer is going to take ten whole seconds to size you up.
From the moment you walk through the door, you only have ten seconds to make a good impression. As much as appearances shouldn’t matter, they definitely do. But, no pressure!
You want to promote yourself as professional, interested, and as someone who will add value to the company.
Although your attire isn’t likely to be the deciding factor in an important interview, it might very well put a nail in the coffin if you wear something inappropriate.
To help you avoid any fashion blunders for your big meeting, we’ve set aside a list of 15 things men should never wear to an interview. Dodge these particular clothing mishaps, and you’ll be well on your way toward a new job.
Let’s jump in!
If you’re unsure of what to wear, opt for your handy-dandy suit. But that doesn’t mean you should dust off your mustard, velvet suit for the interview (if ever).
If you are going to wear a suit to your interview, keep things conservative to play the game safely—black, navy, or grey are your new best friends.
Hold tight to their professionalism and do not stray. On the other hand, you’re not going to a formal ball. Please, for the sake of your dignity, leave your tuxedo in the closet.
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Anything That Doesn’t Fit
Even if he’s close to your height, borrowing your fifteen-year-old brother’s suit isn’t going to win any brownie points with the hiring manager.
Whether they’re too small or too big, ill-fitting clothes are always a no-go. If you genuinely care about the job, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a new suit or get an old suit tailored.
If you end up not getting the job, at least you’ll have a nicely fitted suit to wear to your next interview.
Let’s face it: graphic tees don’t exactly scream “sophistication.” Don’t get me wrong; solid t-shirts can look super sleek and professional when paired with a suit and some sick loafers. But, in an interview, a t-shirt, in general, is risky enough—regardless of how dressed up it is.
Wearing a shirt that says “I make cute babies” will only cause distraction, not the good kind. Regardless, it isn’t going to convince your interviewer to give you an offer—even if you do make cute babies.
I’m all for men wearing sandals. Who wants to sweat through socks and leather shoes all day, every day? But, unfortunately, any sandal should be avoided when heading into an interview.
And, sure, your feet will be under the desk, so who’s going to care? The answer is absolutely everyone. Your toes might look good in the sand, but they certainly wouldn’t look so well while they’re flopping across the concrete floors of an office building.
If you’re commuting through the city in 90-degree heat, wear your sandals. But, be sure to replace them before setting foot inside company walls.
Don’t worry just yet; I’m not about to tell you that all jeans for all interviews are completely off-limits. But, there are interview-appropriate jeans, and there are interview-inappropriate jeans.
If you’re heading into a super traditional corporate interview, like medicine or law, they’ll expect you to wear business-formal attire, which means you’ll need to leave your trusty jeans at home. But, for a position in more of the creative realm, jeans might be totally fine.
Regardless, you should never wear jeans with holes, rips, or any embellishments. Keep them clean, simple, (preferably) dark-wash, and well-fitted. And, do your best to dress them up with the rest of your ensemble.
Cologne is great and all, but it’s best to go super light or avoid it altogether for an interview. It’s not all that fun to overwhelm your interviewer with cologne before you even make it to shake their hand.
It’s distracting and can easily take away from your stellar personality. Not to mention, you never know if your interview may have a scent allergy. Before you know it, they’ll have to throw you out of their office because they’re going into anaphylactic shock.
Keep the scents to a minimum. A shower will do wonders.
If this interview means anything at all to you, take some time to iron your clothes. Or, at least toss them in the dryer to tumble for a bit.
One of the most unfortunate fashion mishaps is wrinkles, and you’re better than that. You want to get this job, so you should make an effort to show the interviewer that you care.
At their best, wrinkles portray the mere lack of preparedness. So, please, avoid wearing them to your interview (if not public in general).
I love bow ties. They’re the perfect addition to a tuxedo, and they do quite the job of helping some guys look dapper. But, there are plenty of people who aren’t like me.
The anomaly is that the bow tie isn’t always welcomed in a professional environment. And since you don’t know the interviewer personally, wearing something as bold as a bow tie can be risky.
To play it safe for your interview, leave the bow tie at home and wear a classic, sophisticated tie instead.
It truly doesn’t matter how much you love your fedora; hats are absolutely not acceptable in an interview setting.
I completely understand the convenience of a hat. Didn’t wash your hair? No worries, throw on a baseball cap. Got a bad haircut? Don’t stress; wear a beanie until it grows back. But, let me tell you—your bad haircut will fare much better than any hat, whether it be a baseball cap, beanie, or even a beret.
There is no good reason to wear a hat to an interview; they’re unnecessary. Not to mention, you’ll just let your interviewer in on your secret: that you didn’t care enough to brush your hair. And that isn’t something to be proud of.
Now, if you wear a hat or headwear for religious purposes, ignore everything you just read. Religious headpieces are absolutely acceptable. And, if you wear a hat for medical reasons, leaving it on might be fair. However, it’s best to explain your need for headwear with the interviewer before heading in.
Subtle patterns and colors are one thing. But, wearing bold, loud patterns that distract from everything you’re saying is not a good idea for an interview.
Your outfit shouldn’t be the only thing the interviewer remembers about you—you have much more to offer. Keep colors and patterns low-key to allow your resume and work ethic to do the talking.
It seems obvious enough, but some people might need to hear this: never, ever, wear shorts to an interview. It doesn’t matter who you are or how hard you’re willing to work; shorts are way too casual. Leave them at home and give your sandals some company.
You’re walking into an interview. The interviewer already knows you need a job. But, don’t wear something that makes it seem like you’re desperate for one.
Whether you only wore them for five minutes last week or you slept in them last night, always wash your clothes. Even if they don’t smell dirty, you could very well be nose blind. Toss your ensemble in the wash to avoid looking sloppy.
Jewelry can be the best way to dress up an outfit. But, it’s best to keep the jewels to a minimum when it comes to an interview. They can be distracting if you overdo it—less is more in this case. So, try to keep it lax with a nice watch and limit yourself to one or two rings.
Also, be as conservative as you can with piercings as the company might not allow them. If you’re worried about it at all, remove all of them before your interview.
Comfort is of the utmost importance when it comes to interviewing—you don’t want to be squirming in your seat or constantly fixing a scratchy shirt. But try to avoid hoodies at all costs.
Even if the company has casual Friday every day, it’s best to keep things one step above their general dress code. And, a hoodie is far too laid-back for the first impression.
Regardless of how you dress it up, it’s hard to make a hoodie look professional. In the end, find a happy medium between classy and comfortable, but don’t go full-carelessness ahead.
Anything That Goes Against The Company Culture
Imagine walking into an office building where everyone is wearing grey suits and silk ties, but you show up wearing an outfit that looks like you could drop everything and walk a tightrope at any moment. Talk about embarrassing!
I know that’s unlikely to happen, but it’s a similar feeling when you’re dressed in something entirely contrary to the company’s culture. That said, avoid going too formal in a business-casual environment and try not to be too casual in professional settings.
Researching the company beforehand can give you some insight into its culture, which will help you better decide what to wear. Not to mention, you’ll bypass feeling self-conscious while you sit in front of the Queen of England wearing cargo pants.
Whatever you do, opt for something professional, clean, and well-fitting. Try to keep colors neutral and dodge the urge to go bold. Nonetheless, feeling comfortable and confident is key when you set foot in the interview room.
Let your resume and experience take the spotlight while your outfit illuminates your personality’s best features. Happy interviewing!