10 Interview Fashion Fails That Stop You From Getting the Job You Want

Whether it’s your first job search or you’re hunting for something new, you’ve probably heard “you should dress for the job you want.” It’s a cliché for a reason: The way you dress tells the world how you expect to be treated and if you want to be seriously considered for a job, you need to take your interview outfit seriously. So what should you avoid? I talked to Adrienne Fretz, partner at executive recruiting firm OnPoint HR Solutions, about the fashion mistakes people make that keep them from getting the job of their dreams.

10 Interview Fashion Fails

1. Pinstripes & Pearls for a Startup

…Or distressed denim to a consulting firm. “When you show up, you want to look like you fit in,” says Fretz. If you have no clue what to wear, poll acquaintances that work in the industry or ask the HR person who sets up the interview what the office style is.

2. A Too-Short Skirt

It may be perfect when you’re standing, but if a skirt rides up your thighs when you cross your legs, don’t wear it! “Often people stand in front of a mirror to check out an outfit, but forget to sit in it, too” says Fretz. Nothing’s more distracting than a candidate who’s tugging at her hem the entire time, so fully test your outfit (standing, sitting, walking around) before the big day.

3. A Cardigan

It’s just… blah. Even though they’re fine for everyday, sweaters always feel more casual, and they have the habit of pilling and looking shabby. Instead, opt for a blazer or other structured jacket. “Not only does a blazer show a degree of respect and formality, but it makes you stand up a little straighter,” says Fretz.

4. A $$$ Purse

Especially for young women, flashy accessories can trigger an unconscious bias from the interviewer. “When people see the Hermes bag or the gigantic engagement ring on a junior person, they wonder if you really need the job,” says Fretz. This goes for the men, too: Leave the Rolex at home!

5. A Shirt With a Spill On It

If you can’t wash your clothes, how can you perfect a presentation? Check out your outfit the day before, in full sunlight, to make sure there are no surprises. And if you spill your coffee on yourself in the elevator and there isn’t an option to change, just own up to it. “Ignoring it is worse! Address it with confidence: Admit you’re a klutz and move on,” says Fretz.

6. Too Much Perfume

You may love a particular perfume—but it could be the one that your potential boss’ ex wears. “Besides, you want them to remember you for your conversation, not your scent,” says Fretz. Use a light touch when applying and avoid anything so strong it’ll leave a trail behind you.

7. Anything Sexy

“No, you should not wear the same outfit to an interview that you would wear to a nightclub,” says Fretz. Busty girls, beware of tight shirts and peek-a-boo buttons. Sky-high heels, pants with any shine to them, sequins—save them for Saturday night.

8. Chipped Nails

Just like it’s better to wear no jewelry than tacky mall jewelry: “It’s better to sport no nail polish than a chipping manicure,” says Fretz. Do your hair, put on some lipstick, and make an effort to present yourself well.

9. Scuffed Shoes

You probably didn’t notice that your heels were scuffed at the toe, but a future manager will. Invest in a good pair of pumps to wear only to interviews—stash them in your bag and put them on before going in. Fellas, get a shoe shine the day before! “If you’re sitting across from each other in an interview, they’re definitely going to see your shoes,” says Fretz.

10. Head-to-Toe Trend

Even if you’re interviewing for a fashion job, your potential manager wants to see a person who has enough brains not to blindly follow every trend. If you walk in looking like you undressed a mannequin at Zara, you miss chance to show your personality. “Even in a creative environment, you want to be an individual, but on-brand for the company you want to work for,” says Fretz.

P.S. Take the Water!

If your receptionist offers you a glass of water or a trip to the bathroom, say yes! “Check your teeth, give yourself a pep talk and straighten up before your big moment,” says Fretz. And you never know when your mouth will get dry. Accept any help you can get to succeed! (Except coffee. See #5.)


You know what's awesome? When you're super-excited to meet someone and she turns out to be just as smart and sweet and chic as you hoped she'd be. That's Danai Gurira, whom you might know as Michonne on The Walking Dead! Tune into @abcthechew tomorrow to see us have some fun in the kitchen! #twd #thechew #fanboy

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