(The following article is written by Laurie J. James, MCD, CCELW)


You’ve probably heard most of the dress code rules and regulations about what to wear on the job interview. Some of the rules are easy on the ears, while others are just plain hard to hear. Listed below are tips on what NOT to wear during the entire interview process – whether it’s the first or last interview:

1) Don't wear out the interviewer with long answers or too much talking. Try to be concise and focused with your answers to questions. Don’t ramble. Employers sometimes like to do the talking! You have two ears and one mouth … use them in the correct proportion!!

2) Don't wear a bad attitude. Remember to smile at least four (4) times during every interview – even the phone interviews! A smile over the phone is heard. If you need help, put a mirror in front of you during a phone interview.

3) Don't wear cigarette smoke to the interview! Don’t smoke before or after the interview! Most anyone with a nose can smell the cigarette on you. Clean out your car, Febreze your clothes, wash your hair, etc. And if you smoke, consider quitting!!

4) Don’t wear the fear of your salary negotiation skills on your sleeve … Don’t bring up salary at all!! Consider your salary negotiation like a game of tennis, where you must always be prepared to lob the ball back to the opponent. First of all, know what the market will bear by researching salary ranges on www.salary.com or www.payscale.com. Next, let the employer know that you are negotiable by saying, “I am negotiable; what do you have allotted for the position?”

5) Don't wear a poorly written résumé. The résumé will probably be read for the first time in complete detail during the interview. Let me repeat that – your résumé will probably be read for the first time in complete detail during the interview. Make sure that you have additional copies of your current documentation, portfolio, etc. and can discuss every aspect of the résumé with enthusiasm and conviction.

6) Don't wear shabby chic clothing. Dress as if you are going to church and then out to Sunday lunch w/your grandparents. In other words, dress UP – not down!

7) Don't wear an exposed tattoo!! While tattoos are more widely acceptable in today’s society, they can be quite distracting on the initial meeting. Consider covering them up with appropriate clothing or even makeup.

8) Don't wear a nose ring or any facial/body rings/chains. This is extremely distracting and it’s just not an attractive way to make that initial impression. It can also bring up unnecessary conversation and sends up a red flag for most employers.

9) Don't wear a bad haircut!! Your hair should look neat and professional. A haircut is inexpensive today. Shop around, if you’re on a budget.

10) Don't wear too much cologne. Smell is the most powerful sense that we have. Wearing too much cologne/perfume can evoke many things – bad memories, nausea, headache, or just plain distraction from the interview. You don’t want the employer to sneeze or cough from allergies because you’re wearing too much fragrance. The best smell is a clean smell of soap, water and deodorant. Leave the cologne and perfume for your night life!

11) Don't wear clothes that fit poorly! Seek assistance if needed!! Whether your clothes are too loose or too tight, the impression that leaves an employer is the same – a poor interview!

12) Don't wear too much cleavage (Ladies). This is a job interview, not an invitation for a date.

13) Don't wear too much jewelry. Ladies: The rule of thumb is a maximum of one ring per hand. Earring studs are fine. A necklace also works, as long as it coordinates with the outfit. Consider a scarf to dress up a solid outfit. Gents: Leave the jewelry at home for the interview. J

14) Don't wear worn out or unpolished shoes/belt. This is an easy fix. Keep shoe polish in your home and make sure you’re dressed up in your Sunday best.

15) Don't wear mismatched clothing. In other words, invest in some basic pieces that will work for all types of occasions. Ladies: Pick a solid skirt and jacket in navy, grey or black and punch that up with a colourful blouse or scarf. Gents: A nice power suit with a red tie and neutral shoes will give you confidence and power. Ask a female to assist you, if you’re stuck or don’t know what to wear. Ladies are always free with advice!

16) Don't wear out your jaw chewing gum. You can address your breath with a breath mint about 15 minutes before the interview. Be sure to chew and swallow the mint before the interview. It might be worth it to keep a cleaning kit in your car (toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mirror, and breath mints). This is as much about your confidence as it is about hygiene.

17) Don't wear food in your teeth. The worst is spinach, right? Again, brush and floss before the appointment.

18) Don't wear a frown. Try to smile at least four times in the interview, as this exudes a relaxed confidence. It also increases your face value and will always help you land a job.

19) Don't wear unfocused eyes. Keep excellent eye contact throughout the interview. Make it a priority to notice the eye color of your interviewer and be sure to write it down when you leave the interview. These mental notes help the savvy interviewer land the best jobs.

20) Don't wear too much makeup. Ladies: If you are confused about this, contact a beauty consultant. You will be treated to a FREE facial and color consultation. There are appropriate cosmetic colors to wear for every skin tone. Get seasoned on this in advance.

21) Don't wear bed hair. Be sure that you’ve got plenty of time to get ready for your interview. It’s kind of like getting ready for your first date with the person of your dreams. You wouldn’t want to mess it up with bed hair, would you?

22) Don't wear anything that lets chest hair show. Gents: If chest hair is an issue, consider wearing another t-shirt underneath your dress shirt.

23) Don't wear a limp handshake. A firm and confident handshake while looking the other person directly in the eye will speak volumes about you – the candidate that should be hired, of course! Ladies: Remember to omit any rings on your right hand during the interview process to avoid getting crushed by a man’s handshake. Gents: Be gentle with shaking a ladies’ hand on an interview. If she’s wearing even one ring, you might inadvertently crush her hand with too firm a handshake.

24) Don't wear beans or any food that produces gas before an interview!! Seriously! If you have to have a Taco Bell fix before an interview, at least have the decency to take Beano before you eat. This will save you from embarrassment on the interview, and possibly getting chopped from advancing.

26) Don't wear perspiration or body odor. Plan ahead with deodorant and shirt shields under your arms if this is a chronic problem. In addition, ladies inevitably shine in the heat of summer. Check out some cosmetic products that prevent shine. See a beauty consultant.

28) Don't be wary of mirrors. They ARE your friend during the interview process!! In image coaching, we call this a check up from the neck up!!

29) Don't wear anything with a logo. It may sound odd, but this could actually turn off an employer. Just remain neutral with logos, name brands, etc.

30) Don't wear a dirty/filthy vehicle. Be sure to wash and clean your vehicle both inside and out. It’s entirely possible that the employer might walk you to your car after the interview. How embarrassing would it be to have McDonald’s paper products decorating your back seat? And the lingering smell associated with those fast food items is rough! This type of messiness shows that you are not attentive to detail. The employer will take notice, and you may get chopped!

31) Don't wear a bad manicure. This is for both genders. Clean your fingers and nails. Ladies: Use a clear polish to that your nails look professional but do not distract. Gents: Consider an unscented hand lotion or something like that to keep your hands soft. There’s nothing worse than shaking someone’s calloused hands.

32) Don't wear an outfit for the job you have. Instead, dress for the job you want!

33) Don't wear a knit shirt. Gents: Wear a button-down shirt with a tie and jacket. You can always take the jacket off, but you can’t miraculously produce it.

34) Don't wear acne or anything that will be physically distracting!! Find an inexpensive acne treatment gel or concealer. This can also be prevented by eating right, drinking tons of water and getting enough sleep.

35) Don't wear too many bumper stickers on your car. Keep it simple. The cars with multiple bumper stickers look disorganized and turn most employers off.


Final Note: Be friendly and respectful to ALL the people you encounter while on the job hunt. You never know who you might meet, and you may be working with these people. You are being judged by everyone you encounter ... from janitor to CEO. If you follow these suggestions, you will be confident in your job search. Remember, you only have one chance to make a GREAT first impression!! Make it count!! LJJ