What Not to Wear. Seriously.

First of all, congrats for landing the interview!  That means two things: One, you’ve shown that you are qualified to perform the work detailed in the job description, and Two, you’ve got work to do!


This month I’ll be reviewing some interview tips and goofs I’ve seen from many years of talent management.  From a worst case scenario to the best interview answer I’ve ever heard, you won’t want to miss a post.

But now you’re thinking, “Sheesh Casey, I know not to look like a slob on an interview.  Give me a little credit.”

Sure, you’ve figured out that general personal hygiene and appropriate clothing is important.  But seriously, I’ve seen some of the weirdest interpretations of ‘Business Casual’ that I really can’t assume anyone knows anything anymore.  

You need to know that everything about interview attire is subjective and varies by region, company, department, and by person.


Example: A candidate came to the interview wearing a suit with no tie.  This was perfectly acceptable from my point of view as HR, as we worked in a casual office environment where jeans were OK to wear every day and the candidate was qualified and otherwise put-together.  However, this particular hiring manager decided to eliminate the candidate from consideration.  I’m over here thinking, “Okay Mr. Manager Greg ---- you wear light wash jeans, dirty sneakers, short-sleeved button-down shirts with the top 3 buttons undone (hello chest hair) and chain necklaces to the office.  But yeah, NO TIE?? Just absurd.”


So, anyone can google “What to wear to a job interview.”  But what are some true tips?




  • Dress for the company - and then go one step higher.

This is a good rule of thumb.  Office wears jeans all day?  Business casual for interview.  Everyone in slacks?  Dry clean that suit!  When in doubt: go more formal.



  • Not too much cologne.

Lay off.  If your recruiter goes into a coughing fit, that was two spritzes too many.


  • Facial hair.

Personal preference - but make sure your beard/moustache/mutton chops are trimmed.  That means shaving your neckline and upper cheeks.  For more facial hair styles and advice check out this blog by the Dollar Shave Club.



  • No higher than a 3 inch heel.  

I wear 5 inch heels at the office, but I’ve already got the job (and I create the dress code, BOOM).  It’s not the time to showcase your stiletto collection - plus if you walk like a baby deer in heels I’m going to silently judge you.


  • Nothing that will distract you.

Nothing is worse than a cute pair of tights getting snagged on a rhinestone bag, or your necklace getting tangled with your obnoxious Visitor ID badge.  If you’re going to have trouble with it or fiddle with it at all, leave it at home.  I’m a notorious ring-twirler and I play with my hair ties when I feel anxious.  For a big presentation or interview I take all of those distractions off.



So you're dressed to the nines and ready to go.  But WHOOPS!  You slipped up and made a big goof.  Next week we'll talk about how to recover from a worst-case scenario on a job interview.