A job interview is all about impressions. You start making an impression on a potential employer before you even utter one word just by your appearance. Compared to men, women have so many more options when planning what to wear to a job interview. But this also means that we can also go wrong more as well. As Recruiter, I see people make very subtle interview attire mistakes all the time and with my side hustle, I pay particular attention to preparing job seekers for an interview.
Some of the advice about dressing for an interview is obvious – no sneakers, no showing bra straps, no smoking right before an interview. But there are more job interview attire mishaps that aren’t so obvious.
1) Patterned pantyhose
We know that women should always wear pantyhose to a job interview. Going into an interview with bare legs is never okay. We all also know that you shouldn’t wear fishnet stockings to a job interview, but you shouldn’t be wearing anything but plain old pantyhose. I know some patterned pantyhose are tasteful and classic, but keep it simple.
On a side note, if you’re like me, you’re bound to get a run in your pantyhose. I always take some clear nail polish with me and if I notice a run and can’t change, I just dab a bit of nail polish on the end of the run and it stops it immediately.
We know wearing flip-flops and sneakers are a no-no, but you’d be shocked at how many women come in to job interviews wearing open toed shoes and backless shoes in the summer. Stick to close-toed black shoes that aren’t too high. The less noise they make, the better and hide toe cleavage whenever possible.
3) Shoes you can barely walk in
While we’re on the topic of shoes, make sure you’re comfortable walking in your shoes. Imagine this – you’re asked to tour the office and you’re barely able to take two steps without tipping over… not a good first impression. When I was fresh out of college, I had a job interview that went relatively well and the manager suggested he take me on an office tour. A tour that lasted 15 minutes in shoes I had just bought the day before. By the end of the tour, the only thing on my mind was how quickly I could get to my car and take off my shoes.
Have black job interview shoes – shoes that have been tried, tested and are professional and comfortable so that you can focus on the interview rather than losing the feeling in your toes.
4) Clothes for another season
Imagine sitting in a warm office in July with a turtleneck. Instead of focusing on the interview, you’ll be focusing on how hot you are an hoping that the interviewer doesn’t notice you’re sweating. Keep in mind that some office have the air conditioning blasting in the summer. Either wear clothes that work for all seasons or stock to season-appropriate clothes.
It’s so easy to make this mistake. I find myself pushing my sunglasses on top of my head all the time and sometimes I completely forget that they’re there. This is okay if you’re going to the mall or hanging out with the girls, but not appropriate for a job interview or any professional setting.
Some women love shoes and makeup, I adore perfume. In fact, I could say that I’m a perfume-aholic. But some scents literally make me nauseous. I’ll never interviewing an intelligent Marketing Manager a few years ago who was passionate about her job, great personality, very articulate… but I couldn’t get her out of my office fast enough. Her perfume was completely overwhelming. I had a small office with windows that couldn’t open and I felt like I was suffocated by her perfume.
Stay away from perfume altogether. You don’t know who will be interviewing you and a lot of offices are scent-free these days. Scent is tied to emotion and memory, what if you wear a scent that reminds the interviewer of someone they hate? It’s possible and completely subliminal.
Flashy jewellery that makes noise when you move is an automatic no-no. Save the bling for another day and stick to simple, understated jewellery for a job interview. Look in the mirror and if the first thing you notice is your jewellery, that means it’s too big.
8) Clothes with print
Loud and funky prints are always a big NO. Just like closet essentials, job interview essentials don’t include print either. Stick to simple, solid colors. You can never go wrong with dark colors, they’re professional, understated and look good on almost any woman. The key is to find colors that compliment your skin tone.
9) Loud nail polish
Colors can be a bit touchy in a corporate setting. These days, there are so many beautiful blue, green, and orange nail polish that it’s hard to resist. But for a job interview, stick to natural colors.
The length of your nails matter as well. Too long is unprofessional. Take the ‘keyboard test‘ – if you can type without your nails getting in the way, you’re nails are the right length.
Some colors entice a strong reaction from people subconsciously and red is one of them. If you’re going on a date, red is the color to wear, but in a job interview, it can be distracting to the interviewer. Because red is a color of power, think about the position you’re being interviewed for. If you’re interviewing for an administrative assistant position for example, red may too powerful. Wearing a red blouse under a blazer is fine, but stay away from wearing a red suit.
Think about two things when you’re preparing for an interview:
- How would you like to present yourself
- What is the company’s environment (are they very conservative or relatively casual?)