In this job market, where so many qualified applicants are vying for the same positions, there's no margin for interviewing error. That's why we've rounded up the following nine tips on how not to sabotage your chances through inappropriate attire. Follow these guidelines on what not to wear and prospective employers can easily focus on what's really important: your skills and experience.
1. Revealing clothing
It's not always necessary to wear a suit to an interview-this will depend on what kind of role and company you're applying for-but it is always necessary to wear clothing that isn't revealing. In other words, no blatant cleavage, visible underthings, or bare midriffs!
2. Ill-fitting clothes
You don't need to spend a lot of money on interview garments, but it is important that they fit properly! Overly baggy or tight pieces suggest that you don't take the interview seriously or don't have your act together. If clothes don't fit you right off the rack, investing in basic tailoring will make a huge difference in helping you look put together, and will also make your clothes appear more expensive than they actually are!
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3. Out-of-place footwear
While pairing a suit with sneakers may bode well for an internet startup, your quirky style is not likely to be as welcome at more traditional establishments. For conservative jobs, make sure you're in closed-toe shoes in basic colors. If you're interviewing for a more creative position, you have more flexibility but it's still best for women to stick to lower-heeled shoes and men to wear dress shoes. Make sure your shoes are polished and don't look scuffed or overly worn, and don a fresh pedicure if you're going with open-toe heels!
4. The wrong socks
People often forget about things like socks, but it's important for men that they match your pants and shoes! Make sure to wear dress socks-lighter colors like beige if you're wearing lighter pants, and dark colors like black, gray or navy if wearing darker pants. For women, wear nude pantyhose if applying for more conservative jobs. Avoid colored, fishnet, or easily snagged hose until you get the job!
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5. Distracting jewelry or accessories
Though it's important to show your personality and taste during an interview, don't go overboard with your jewelry and accessories. For men interviewing for conservative roles, keep it to a minimum, leaving on only your wedding ring and a watch. For women, avoid anything flashy or jangly-you don't want to make noise every time you gesture to emphasize a point!
6. Dirty or untrimmed nails
You don't need to get a manicure before an interview, but it is important to ensure that your nails are trimmed and well-kept. Nails that are long and dirty will make you look sloppy and could distract your interviewer from the conversation you're having.
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7. Any strong scents
Don't wear heavy perfume or cologne, as you want your qualifications to linger in your interviewers mind, not your scent! Similarly, avoid eating odorous foods, like onions or garlic, before an interview, and freshen yourself up with a mint before the meeting if necessary. If you're a smoker, remember not to smoke beforehand-and air out your attire beforehand while you're at it.
8. Too much makeup It's important to look put-together in an interview, but sometimes women cross the line with their makeup. Remember that you're interviewing for a job, not going out on a date or for a night out on the town! Keep your makeup natural, neutral and light for maximum effectiveness.
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9. Any tears, holes or stains
This should go without saying, but you'd be surprised how many people don't dry clean their clothes before they show up to an interview! Make sure you're neat and tidy in your appearance, with no tears, holes or stains of any kind on your clothing. Also work hard to avoid getting your clothes dirty the day of the interview-take extra precautions while sipping your coffee and avoid food that can splatter!
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.