photo by Marten Bjork via Unsplash

What Not to Wear On a Job Interview

November 11, 2021

by mariam simmons, guest contributor

As the saying goes, you only get one shot to make a first impression, an especially important point to consider when it comes to job interviews. How you dress for an interview is a big part of making a good first impression. It’s imperative to show up for your job interview dressed properly and appropriately for the environment. 

Here are some of the no-nos when choosing outfits for a job interview:

Overly Casual Clothes

While you don't want to appear too formal, you also want to avoid looking overly casual. Aim for professional attire that reflects the position you're applying for.

  • No matter the company, you should not wear torn clothing, ripped jeans, or even denim jeans as they appear unprofessional in most settings.
  • Avoid wearing T-shirts, especially novelty shirts, printed shirts, or those with fancy designs, colors, and shapes as they can be distracting.

Sandals Or Flip-flops

Just as you don't want to be overly casual in your clothing, you also don't want to be too casual in your footwear. 

  • Just like sweatpants and ripped jeans, sandals or flip-flops are overly casual. While they are some of the most comfortable footwear, they don't look professional. You should also avoid sky-high stilettos, sneakers, or brightly colored shoes.
  • For business casual interviews, opt for closed-toe flats in brown or black color. You can also wear pumps or low heels.

Too Much Jewelry

When attending a job interview, you want to look simple, neat, and clean. Too much jewelry is distracting and can draw the interviewer’s attention away from your words. 

  • So, steer clear of distracting jewelry, such as overly large earrings or noisy bangles or bracelets. Instead, choose pieces that complement your outfit. 
  • Wear just your wedding or engagement ring, a minimalist necklace, a pair of simple stud earrings, a professional watch, or a simple bracelet. Let your classy outfit speak for itself.

Heavy Perfume and Cologne

Some employers have a no-scent policy in the workplace so it's best to avoid wearing perfume or cologne to your job interview.

The reason is that the sense of smell is the most sensitive of the human senses. A lot of potential candidates have had their interviews compromised because the interviewer or employer was overwhelmed by their strong scent.

Too Bright, Flashy Colors

The best colors to wear to an interview are neutral hues, such as black, gray, navy, or brown. Depending on your preference, you can add a bit of color to showcase your personality

  • Consider the type of job you're applying for as well. For positions in banking, finance, and government offices, for example, dark-colored suits or outfits are preferred.

Excessive Accessories

Wear only the must-haves and reserve the elaborate accessories for special occasions. Avoid wearing big watches, eye-catching wallets, fancy handbags, wacky or novelty ties, colored or patterned socks, or fancy hair clips. Use a classic men’s wallet that’s slim and doesn’t look bulky from your pants pocket.

Also, don't wear a hat to a job interview. That includes baseball hats, winter hats, or even fashion hats. Opt for straight and sleek hairstyles, or wear loose waves or natural curls. For gents, go for a classic undercut hairstyle or a crew-cut.

Too Much Makeup

You need to look your best, but loading on makeup isn't the way to do it. Avoid applying dark eyeshadow, bright lipstick, or heavy foundation. Rather, use natural-looking makeup that highlights your natural beauty.

Stick to the basics, such as a tinted lip balm, a touch of powder, and a light coat of mascara.


Unless you are being interviewed online, there’s no point in wearing headphones. They just look too casual and inappropriate for business to formal settings. 

  • If you need to play music before the interview to stay calm and relaxed, opt for a pair of earbuds instead. Don’t forget to remove them before entering the interview room. 
  • You want to make your potential employer feel that you came in focused and sincere with your desire to get the job.

The best way to dress for a job interview and leave a good impression is to avoid these things. You want to look your best, but you certainly don’t want to steal the show and grab everyone’s attention in a negative way. Neither do you want to look like you haven’t prepared for the interview.

The best approach is to wear a business-casual or formal work attire that is appropriate for the job you’re applying for. Be simple and clean, and most of all - be confident!

Guest Writer

Mariam Simmons is a fashion trendsetter and the Content Manager of Alpine Swiss. She loves traveling to the world’s top stylish destinations and gets inspired to create helpful business fashion and lifestyle guides.

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