What Not to Wear: The Job Interview Edition   

“They say to dress for the job you want, not the job you have, so I walked in dressed better than the boss.” -- unknown

For a lot of recent college graduates, being allowed to wear whatever you want to work — jeans, t-shirts, or whatever’s comfortable — is often part of the “dream job” wish list.

While those jobs do exist in increasing numbers, the time to test a company’s dress code is not during your job interview.


Dressing nicely for a job interview puts forth the impression that you care about getting the job, you care about what other people think, and you’ve put in some effort to prepare for the interview.

On the other hand, if you come into an interview wearing wrinkled clothes, ripped jeans or worse, your interviewer may think you’re lazy, sloppy, careless and irresponsible. Those definitely are not the qualities you want to portray when you’re asking someone to hire you.

First impressions can affect final results in your job interview. Appearance matters.

Here are some guidelines:

Do some recon. If your interview is at the place of business, drive by at lunchtime before your interview and notice what people are wearing as they come out of the building. Are they in suits? Are in they in jeans? If it’s not possible to drive by, look at the company’s website for clues on what people are wearing in photos and what company executives are wearing in their online photos.

Level up. Dress at least one to two notches above the position you’re interviewing for. Often, for men, that means at least a dress shirt and tie, if not a full suit and dress shoes. For women, that means a business suit, or a conservative skirt and sweater, and dress shoes.

General rules.

·      No jeans, even if they’re “nice jeans.”

·      No sneakers or workboots, even if they’re brand new.

·      Clothes (women and men) should be ironed and free of stains.

·      Skirts should follow the “Parochial Schools Rule” and should be no more than an inch or two above the knee — no short skirts.

·      Men: Don’t wear a colored t-shirt under your dress shirt and tie. Plain white t-shirts are best.

·      When in doubt, take a photo of your outfit and send it to a parent or trusted older adult who has a management-level job.  

Most jobs have a dress code or guidelines that you’ll receive from the human resources department or a manager in your first week at work that will make clothes shopping and getting dressed in the morning much easier. Until you have that information, dress for the job you want.

Warren Wright