Job Interview Tips Professional Development

7 Worst Things to Wear to a Job Interview

Written by Kate Lopaze

Unless you’re applying for a position at Vogue, your ensemble should be a low-stress decision. If you stick to some evergreen rules about what to do (and what not to do), you’ll ensure that you look sharp, without your clothes taking any of the thunder away from your sparkling resume and skills.

Here are seven things not to wear on interview day.

1. Clothes that don’t fit.

If you’re swimming in your power suit, it can make you look a little like a kid playing dress-up. If your outfit is several sizes too small, it can distract from the discussion at hand—and maybe even emphasize some, uh, attributes that really shouldn’t be on the table in a professional job interview. Make sure your clothes fit you as you are. If you can’t afford a new interview outfit, don’t stress—there are relatively inexpensive tailoring options that can make your lucky blazer fit again, or hem those pants so that you’re not tripping over the ends.

2. Clothes that are super-casual.

Even if you know ahead of time that the company where you’re interviewing is super cazh, you should still err on the side of formality for your interview outfit. Never wear flip-flops, a hat, jeans, a t-shirt, or anything with an obvious brand written on it. You’ll have plenty of time to wear your casual gear later if the office dress code is laid-back. As for the brands, the only brand you want to be shilling for is you.

3. Inappropriate clothing.

If it’s low-cut, just say no. If it’s close to that line, find another shirt. You don’t want to spend the interview worrying that if you shift just a little, your neckline might slip down into “too much skin” territory. The same goes for clothes that are too tight—you want to keep the attention on your resume, not on your risqué.

4. Clothes that show off your tattoos.

For many people, tattoos are in a private (or at least covered by clothing) spot, and it’s a non-issue. However, if you have one in an area like your lower arm or leg, cover it for the interview. You never know if you’ll be meeting with someone who’s on the conservative side, or sees it as enough to affect their view of you. This doesn’t mean you should necessarily be ashamed of your sweet “MOM” ink…but an interview just isn’t the right showcase. Again, it shifts focus and discussion away from the professional and into the personal.

5. Too many accessories.

Do you really need that scarf and patterned headband and all of the bracelets in your jewelry box? Short answer: no. Accessories are a great way to show a bit of personality and style sense, but try to limit it to one or two pieces that flow quietly with your outfit.

6. High-volume colors.

The best overall color palette for your interview outfit(s) is dark and/or neutral. You can still use accent colors, but again—you don’t want your clothes doing the talking for you. The bright plaid tie may be the “in” color in Esquire this month for its ironic kitsch, but go with the understated version for your interview.


7. Clothes that are dirty or ripped.

Above all, you should look neat for your interview. If possible, get your clothes dry-cleaned before interview day. But even if you’re doing it at home, make sure you give everything a once-over for stains, little rips, or other imperfections that could ding your composed image while you’re interviewing.

Dressing for success doesn’t necessarily require a ton of money—just care and attention that let your best self show through.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.