The Top 11 Things Never to Wear to a Job Interview

It’s the morning of your big job interview, and you’re trying to decide what to wear. You want to be professional yet show your personality. You want to be respected yet comfortable. There are so many choices, it can be a hard decision.

While choosing the perfect outfit can be tricky, here are the top 11 things you should definitely avoid wearing to a job interview.

  1. Jeans with holes or stains. Depending on what sort of position you're interviewing for, jeans might be appropriate. But still make sure they're clean, nice jeans paired with a collared shirt. No paint splatters, tears, or grass stains. And if you’re not 101% sure jeans are appropriate, don’t wear them.
  2. Leggings instead of pants. If you’re wearing leggings to cover your legs while wearing a dress, that’s one thing. But leggings should never be a substitute for pants in a job interview.
  3. Sandals or Crocs. Make sure to wear proper shoes. Opt for a closed-toe conservative dress shoe. Skip the sneakers, sandals, flips flops, and hiking shoes.
  4. Graphic t-shirts. Even though your "I'm with ugly -->" t-shirt is a hit at the bar, it tells your future employer that you aren’t taking the interview seriously, and if they hired you, you probably wouldn’t take your job seriously, either. Your best bet is to choose clothing without large branding or funny messages.
  5. Messy nails. Make sure your hands and nails are clean and trim before the interview. If you paint your nails, be sure that you either touch up your manicure before your interview, or remove the polish altogether. If you’re interviewing for a position in the food industry, dirty fingernails or chipped nail polish can actually be considered a health hazard, which sends the message to your future employer that you don’t even have a basic-level understanding of the industry.
  6. Baseball hats or beanies. This one might seem obvious, but removing your hat for an interview is a basic sign of respect. And if at all possible, don’t wear a hat right before the interview, either, to avoid hat-hair that will make you look silly and unprepared.
  7. Strong smells - even “good” ones. We’ve all had the physically uncomfortable experience of sitting next to a stranger who smells like they took a bath in perfume or cologne. Even nice smells can be offensive and overbearing with the wrong amount applied. And if you’re a smoker, be careful to avoid walking in and smelling like an ashtray.
  8. Your cell phone. Bringing your cell phone into a job interview isn’t a great idea. You should never check your phone or text during the interview, and there’s always the possibility that you’ll forget to silence the ringer. And oftentimes the vibration of “silence” mode is just as distracting and rude as if it were actually ringing. If you drove to the interview, leave your phone in the car.
  9. Any distracting or gaudy piercings or jewelry. If you normally wear large, neon orange ear-gage hoops, consider taking them out for your interview or wearing something more discreet or clear instead. Even though many piercings are still noticeable without jewelry in them, it sends the message to your interviewer that you care about your professional appearance and that you know the difference between personal time and work expectations.
  10. Wrinkled or dirty clothes. You want to send the message that you’re prepared and you would represent the company well - not lazy and just rolled out of bed, or pulled your outfit from the dirty hamper because you forgot about the interview.
  11. A frown. It might sound a little cheesy, but something as simple as wearing a genuine smile and maintaining respectful eye contact goes a long way in an interview. You don’t need to be over-the-top, fake cheerful, but nobody wants to work with someone who’s negative and always in a bad mood.