9 Things You Shouldn't Wear to a Job Interview

A big part of getting a job is making a good first impression, and a big part of making a good impression is how you dress for the interview. While you don't have to spend a lot of money on your wardrobe, putting in a bit of extra effort pays off in the long run.

Before your next interview, make sure you're not making any interview attire mistakes by avoiding these fashion don'ts. 

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Bright, Flashy Colors

Woman in a red dress with a shopping bag
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Be mindful when choosing clothes for an interview. A short hemline and plunging neckline aren't acceptable for a job interview, and if an outfit is also in a bright, flashy color (like red), it will accentuate the clothing's inappropriateness for an interview setting. 

If you plan to wear a daring color, make sure the overall design of your outfit acts as a counterbalance. Otherwise, the colors will simply distract from the substance of what you're saying during the interview. For instance, wear a bright red shirt, but pair it with a black suit. There are other less-dramatic colors that work well for business interviews

The same holds true for video interviews. Avoid very bright colors, and also stay clear of stripes and colors that are the same shade as your background.

And, it's a good idea to avoid very short hemlines and skin-tight fits altogether.

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A Blazer Doesn't Upgrade the Rest of Your Outfit

Hispanic male using smartwatch in street
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While a blazer is a good go-to choice for almost any interview, be mindful of what you wear underneath. Inevitably, the deep-v formed by the blazer's lapel creates a plunging neckline. If you're going to wear a camisole or a shell underneath, make sure it covers you appropriately. Of course, layering with a button-down is a no-fail option, too.

This tip also applies to men. Unless you're interviewing in a casual environment, such as a startup company, wearing a blazer on top doesn't give you the excuse to wear a tired t-shirt underneath. Take the extra effort and put on a button-down shirt or V-neck sweater.

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Overly Casual Clothes

Businessmen shaking hands in cafe
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It can be hard to figure out what to wear for a summer job interview. No one wants to suffer in a heavy suit when the weather is warming up. But warmer temperatures don't mean that you can throw professionalism out the window and wear casual shorts or a sundress.

Fortunately, because many summer jobs tend to be more "business casual" than especially dressy, most likely, you won't have to dress in a dark wool suit or heavy blazer. Both men and women can consider wearing tailored khakis, a nice polo shirt or button-down, and a pair of sensible shoes—but no flip-flops!

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Dated Fashions

Businesswomen standing together outdoors
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In a competitive job market, everything matters — including your overall appearance. If your wardrobe is outdated, or if you have been out of the workforce for a while and your closet reflects it, invest in some modern, fashion-forward clothes to wear to your interview.

Don't forget about shoes, either. Throwing on a pair of sneakers, an old pair of pumps, or beat-up dress shoes certainly won't make you look polished or professional. You don't have to spend a lot of money on your wardrobe because you can easily find great pieces at discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, or major chains such as Target and Old Navy. You might be surprised by how much your shopping trip will pay-off.

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Heavy Perfume and Cologne

young woman at job interview

Take it easy on the perfume and cologne, as you never know if your interviewer might have an allergy or aversion to strong scents.

Either way, you don't want your overwhelming spray of perfume or dab of cologne to be the first or last thing your interviewer notices about you.

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Piles of Makeup

Woman wearing too much make-up
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While it's important to look your best, loading on makeup is not the ideal way to go about it. Keep your look natural by avoiding dark eyeshadow, bright lipstick, or heavy foundation.

Your best bet is to stick with a light coat of mascara, a touch of powder, and some tinted lip balm. Aim to look refreshed and awake, without looking too done up.

Interview makeup do's and don'ts will help you get the perfect look.

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Wacky or Novelty Ties

Man comparing ties in the store
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Now is not the time to pull out that novelty tie you got last Christmas. Even if you think your tie will make a statement, err on the side of caution and stick with something that's more traditional.

A pattern with conservative colors is perfectly fine—like subdued stripes or tasteful paisley — but don't try to be the funny guy who wears the tacky tie. 

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Excessive Accessories

Woman fastening a layered pearl necklace
Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Regardless of the accessories you choose to wear, just remember that you want to look polished and professional. Don't let your outfit detract from the focus on the interview: you, your work experience, and how you would be the best fit for the job you want.

Both women and men should keep accessories to a minimum. Ladies should avoid excess jewelry; instead of big hoops or chandelier earrings, opt for classic studs. It's also a good idea to avoid wearing flashy necklaces, large sunglasses, or anything bedazzled.

While accessories aren't so much of an issue for men, it's important to be mindful of your cufflinks, your tie clip, and your belt; don't wear anything you might wear out to a club, for example. 

Regardless of the accessories you choose to wear, just remember that you want to look polished and professional.

Don't let your outfit detract from the focus on the interview: you, your work experience, and how you would be the best fit for the job you want.

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Businessman in train with cell phone, headphones and tablet
Westend61 / Getty Images

What's wrong with this picture? At first glance, it doesn't seem like much, as the young man is dressed in a dapper suit and tie. But, take a closer look: the headphones have got to go.

While it's fine to listen to music on your commute to the interview, take them off before you enter the office, and stow them away before you're called in for the appointment. Otherwise, you risk seeming distracted and unfocused — you certainly don't want to be fumbling with tangled cords or wireless earbuds as you meet and shake hands with your interviewer. 

While you're removing your headphones, take a moment to turn off or silence your phone, so it doesn't buzz or ring during your interview. 

Make the Best Impression

Wearing the right clothes to a job interview is as important as what not to wear. Choosing appropriate interview attire will help you make the best impression.