What Not to Wear to an Interview - Tips From Our HR Experts (2024)

Dressing to make a great impression at an interview is essential, as we tend to hold onto our first impressions of people, which can be hard to change later. What you wear to an interview can demonstrate to interviewers how you may present yourself and the company.

Therefore, researching the company culture and industry is vital. It will enable you to make the best first impression possible and allow the interviewer to focus on your skills and abilities rather than your clothes.

What Not to Wear

Here are some pointers on what you should avoid wearing to an interview:

Bright, Flashy Colours or Patterns

Bright clothing and bold patterns can be a distraction; you want the hiring manager to concentrate on what you are saying, not the flowers on your tie.

What’s more, subdued colours and patterns are easier to match, helping you create a cohesive professional outfit.

Ill-Fitting Clothes

Attention to detail is everything in your outfit, and ill-fitting garments show that you have not taken extra thought and care when dressing. You will also feel far more confident in well-fitting clothing; it is an easy way to get an advantage before you walk through the door.

Too Much Perfume, Aftershave or Makeup

Whilst smelling and looking nice is a great way to build confidence, many people overdo it when entering pressurised situations. You do not want it to make the interviewer uncomfortable, so keep it understated. A little goes a long way.

Over-Loading Accessories

Accessories can easily cloud your outfit and distract the interviewer, especially if they are bright or noisy. You should only wear basic accessories, cover up tattoos and remove piercings (apart from small earrings).

Choose your accessories carefully, as they can communicate traits and habits. A simple watch is a great way to demonstrate you care about time management, although you should not look at it during the interview.

Plunging Necklines or Unbuttoned Shirts

A low-cut shirt can make people uncomfortable, no matter who wears it. It shows that you do not understand office norms and may concern your colleagues. Instead, choose a higher neckline. If you opt for a shirt with buttons, fasten all but the top two.

Short Hemlines or Shorts

Similarly to low necklines, wearing shorts in the office is also considered unprofessional, so you should not wear them to an interview. If it is a warm day, consider light fabrics like linen.

Inappropriate Shoes

Many people look at your shoes before any other part of your outfit, and they have traditionally indicated formality. Make sure they match your attire and are not too bold.

Black or brown leather shoes are the best option for men. Invest in a good pair and look after them; they will last a lifetime. For women, a professional pair of heels or flats is perfect.

Don’t forget that if you buy a new pair of shoes for the interview, they may need to be broken in, or your biggest weakness will be a throbbing blister on your heel.

Casual Clothing

Casual clothing is inappropriate for an interview, even your invitation calls it an ‘informal interview’. This name refers to the discussion, not the dress code.

Avoid t-shirts, jeans, athletic wear, trainers, hoodies and other casual garments. Formal alternatives will help you get in the mindset to impress.


Headwear that is not religious or cultural is rarely appropriate in a job interview. If you have worn a hat to keep warm or your headphones on the way, remove them before you get to the interview location. Remember to tidy your hat hair as well.

Dated or Trendy Clothes

Business attire is not on the cutting edge of modern fashion, and wearing overly trendy or dated garments can signal that you have not considered appropriate clothing. Adding some personal style is fine, but do not get this mixed up with what may be professional within your interview setting.

Why Dressing Appropriately is Crucial

You only get one shot at a first impression, and unfortunately, many people make assumptions about our clothing choice.

Dressing appropriately shows that you understand the business and the requirements of its environment. It can demonstrate familiarity in this setting or that you have researched and considered your choice to fit in comfortably, highlighting how you are serious about your application.

It also can give you confidence. Interviews are stressful, and arriving under or overdressed can add embarrassment or discomfort to overcome when discussing your career. Keep the unnecessary pressure away to help you succeed.

Don’t let your clothes be a distraction – the interviewer may be off-put by what you are wearing and unable to focus on your qualifications, skills, abilities and answers.

How to Choose the Ideal Interview Outfit

Follow these easy tips to create an outfit that will help you get hired.

Research the Dress Code

Wearing inappropriate clothing may give the impression that you have not thought about the company’s culture. This includes dressing too formally too.

Before you create an outfit, you need to know what the manager expects of you. Your invitation to the interview may already specify the dress code. If not, you can research the business, its culture and its industry for the standard dress code. Or you can reach out to the hiring manager and ask.

Create an Outfit

Once you have understood the requirements, you can select your outfit. Try on different items a few days before the interview to give you time to replace them if needed. The shops will not be open the night before.

If you will rarely wear the items after the interview and want to save money, consider borrowing them from other people or buying them secondhand. Charity shops and online stores often deliver great value. Just make sure they will arrive on time and are in good condition.

Prepare Your Garments

Remember to prepare your garments in advance. You do not want to wake up and find your shirt is creased and your shoes are not polished. Iron everything carefully and set it out neatly so you can easily dress before leaving.

Let Us Find Your Dream Job

Now you know what not to wear to an interview, you just need to make sure you are ready to impress. If you want a new career path, our expert recruiters can steer you in the right direction. With CV optimisation services, job searching support, hiring management communication and interview preparation, we can set you up for success.

Speak to our friendly team today to learn more about our service and find your ideal role.


Can I wear trainers to a job interview?

It depends on the formality of the interview. Clean, white leather trainers can suit some business casual dress codes. You should never wear athletic or trendy trainers to an interview.

Can I wear jeans to a job interview?

It depends on the formality of the workplace and the type of jeans. In some cases, a pair of tailored dark jeans is appropriate. However, chinos and smart trousers are a better option.

Are there any colours to avoid wearing to a job interview?

Bright colours and bold patterns can be off-putting and informal for a job interview, so choose simpler, subdued alternatives.

What Not to Wear to an Interview - Tips From Our HR Experts (2024)


What is unprofessional to wear to an interview? ›

Avoid overly casual attire: Even if the company has a relaxed dress code, steer clear of casual clothing like jeans, shorts, or flip-flops during an interview. Show that you take the opportunity seriously. Say no to loud patterns: Refrain from wearing loud patterns or bright colors, as they can be distracting.

What are the don'ts of interview attire? ›

Avoid loud colors and flashy ties. Clothing should be neat, clean, and pressed.

Which of the following should you not wear to an interview? ›

A casual interview attire that makes your hiring manager feel like you are ready to attend a backyard barbecue is a fashion faux pas that's best avoided. Interview attire that's always inappropriate for a job interview also includes shorts or ripped jeans, flip flops, and athletic clothing like yoga pants and sneakers.

Do interviewers care how you dress? ›

Business formal is seen as the standard interview dress code. When you are interviewing for a job with a company that requires business formal, it is critical to get it right. If you know the company culture would align with business formal then these guidelines can help you dress successfully for your interview.

What colors not to wear to a job interview? ›

According to CareerBuilder's recently survey, blue and black are the best colors to wear to a job interview, and orange is the worst. Now, let's take a look at different colors and when you should or should not wear them!

Can you be overdressed for an interview? ›

While conventional wisdom might warn against being overdressed, fearing it could potentially alienate the interviewer, my experience and a closer examination reveals that dressing up is not only beneficial but comes with virtually no downside for the interviewee.

Which is the outfit that should be generally avoided during an interview? ›

Anything tight, bright, short, or sheer should absolutely be avoided. (Interviewers have been known to complain about the length of interviewees' skirts; if you have any doubts, it's probably too short.) Knee-length skirts are suggested. Very long skirts, while modest, are also considered too trendy for an interview.

What is not allowed in an interview? ›

If a topic (disability, religion, race, etc.) is brought up by the candidate you can discuss it - but it is not to be used as a reason for non-hire. You MAY NOT discuss/ask: You may not ask questions about race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or ancestry.

What is the best dress code for an interview? ›

Pantsuit: A dark or pastel coloured pantsuit with light coloured shirt makes for a classy interview dressing. Shirt/Top: Full-sleeved or half-sleeved shirt or top with a knee-length pencil skirt is acceptable as professional dress code. Choose light and pastel shades for shirt/top with minimal print.

What is the dress code that is inappropriate in a job interview? ›

Avoid casual attire such as jeans, t-shirts, shorts, and athletic wear to interviews as they are too informal and may give off an impression of not taking the opportunity seriously. Stay away from clothes with offensive or controversial messages or graphics.

What is not okay to ask in an interview? ›

Questions to avoid in an interview:

Never ask for information you could have easily found with a quick Google search. Never ask if you can change the job details, the schedule, or the salary. Never ask many questions about the interviewer's background. Never ask about pay, time off, benefits, etc.

Do interviewers look at your appearance? ›

Appearance is crucial in an interview. Yes, even Zoom interviews. Your appearance is the first thing an interviewer will notice.

What are the don'ts of professional dress for an interview? ›

Do not choose a suit in a fabric that's bold or attention-grabbing, such as a large pinstripe or pattern; avoid flashy patterns and colors. Do not choose a skirt that goes above knee-length, sitting or standing. Do not wear a shirt with a button down collar; these are considered casual.

What color should a woman wear to a job interview? ›

Business Insider asked two color experts to share which shades are best to wear to a job interview. Wearing blue or taupe can give off the impression that you're trustworthy and dependable. The experts said wearing red can make you feel confident if you need some extra encouragement.

What to wear to an interview if you don t have professional clothes? ›

For more casual workplaces, professional-looking casual job interview attire is appropriate. The following is a suggested guide to a casual workplace interview outfit: Dark jeans or pants. A blouse, button-down shirt or polo, either with patterns or bold colors.

Are jeans ok for an interview? ›

If you choose to wear jeans to a job interview, opt for a dark wash with a straight or slim fit, free of any rips or heavy distressing. Pair them with a tailored blazer, a crisp button-down shirt, or a smart blouse to elevate the look.

Do and don'ts of an interview? ›

Maintain good eye contact during the interview. Sit still in your seat; avoid fidgeting and slouching. Respond to questions and back up your statements about yourself with specific examples whenever possible. Ask for clarification if you don't understand a question.


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