Fashion and InterviewsLet’s face it, a job interview is like a blind date. Just like when your brother hooked you up with that crazy girl from the Sierra Club who was into kosher taxidermy, a prospective employer determines in a matter of seconds if you’re worthy of a long-term relationship. In the case of a job interview a first impression can mean the difference between being able to buy a new car or eating cereal exclusively for the next six months.

So to prevent you from looking like some hayseed that doesn’t know a Powerpoint from a ballpoint, we recommend you sidestep the five following fashion slip-ups that can cost you a job.

  1. What the Heck Are You Wearing?
  2. Ladies, first and foremost never show up to a job interview looking like you just got out of pole dancing class. You may think this goes without saying, but even the best of us occasionally have those Lady Gaga moments where we look in the mirror and go, “By golly, I do believe the cone bra makes the outfit!” If anything that could be mistaken for underwear is visible after you consider yourself fully dressed, go back to your closet and try again.

    And please, save the sexy cocktail dress for the office holiday party after you have the job. Unless you’re applying for a position as a Victoria’s Secret model, you’re treading dangerously close to “skank” territory if you show up to a job interview displaying more skin than fabric.

    That goes for you guys, too. Even if you have the hottest bod this side of Zac Efron, resist the urge to impress your prospective employer with your Chippendale’s sense of style. On the flip side, don’t go to your interview wearing white gym socks and slouchy khakis.

    When in doubt, err on the conservative side. For both men and women, a gray or navy two-piece suit will always serve you well. (Avoid black, as it makes you look like an undertaker.) If you feel the need to go a little wild, add a colorful scarf or tie. Polished leather shoes are always a must, and ladies save the open-toed slingbacks for girls’ night out.

  3. Being Too Good a Sport
  4. No matter how devoted a sports fan you are, never lobby for a job wearing professional sports or college spirit wear. You may think everyone on the planet cheers for the New York Yankees, but if your interviewer is a third generation Boston Red Sox diehard, trust me, your NY T-shirt will take precedence over anything you have to say.

    Similarly, limit your college experience to your resume. If it turns out your interviewer attended a lesser rival school, you don’t want to rub it in by having your alma mater emblazoned across your chest like an obnoxious billboard.

  5. Flaunting Your Body Canvas
  6. If you’re applying for a management position at Rita’s Rat-a-Tattoo Palace then by all means display your body art proudly! Otherwise, discretely cover your tattoos and body piercings as much as possible. According to an April 1, 2009, New York Times article (“When Tattoos Hurt Job Prospects”) people with visible tattoos are hired less often than equally qualified people who have unadorned skin.

    However, don’t go so far with the cover-ups that you look like you’re carrying concealed weapons. The whole idea is to appear non-threatening. If you can’t hide your body art and your prospective employer asks about it, don’t shy away from an answer. If there’s an interesting story behind how you got your tattoo share it, as long as it doesn’t make you seem irresponsible. Otherwise, emphasize that your tattoo is just one of your many creative outlets.

  7. Backpacking to the Office
  8. Backpacks are good for two things: A) Carrying food and water so you don’t get dehydrated while trekking across the wilderness, and B) Schlepping your books to class in college. They were NEVER intended to go on a job interview. Even if you’re applying to work in the warehouse at Patagonia, leave the backpack at home when you’re seeking employment. If you need something in which to carrying your resume, notepad, pens, business cards, etc., invest in a briefcase; leather (or “pleather”) is preferable since it looks more professional. If you can only afford canvas, stick to black, gray or navy blue.

  9. Letting Them See You Sweat
  10. It’s hard enough to sit through a job interview without breaking a sweat, why stack the deck against you by showing up with an elevated heart rate of 150 bpm? Even though it’s the green thing to do, don’t ride your bike to a job interview. Nothing gives a bad impression like leaving a giant sweat stain on your prospective employer’s designer furniture, or smelling like a water buffalo when you’re trying to convince a total stranger how wonderful you are. Plus, sweating like a suspect in a line-up makes it look like you can’t handle the pressure of a simple introductory chat, which is step one in getting the job.

If possible, drive to your interview. Inquire ahead of time about parking so you don’t have to park a million miles away. If you don’t have a car, take public transportation or have a friend drop you off. If you do plan on riding your bike to work in the future, mention this in the interview to show you’re environmentally minded.

The way you present yourself in a job interview is actually more important than what you say. Even if you’re the most articulate person since Shakespeare interviewers have a hard time ignoring what they see. However, if you give a little thought to your appearance, you immediately become the “total package,” and as quick as a handshake your interviewer suddenly becomes your boss.

One comment on “5 Fashion Blunders That Can Kill Your Job Interview

  • The fact of the matter is our generation grew up wearing t-shirt and jeans every single day and putting on a suit jacket might feel really awkward. While a lot of workplaces are going casual, wear something more professional.

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