First impressions are always important, but in hiring processes that only consist of one or two interviews, your first impression will often determine whether or not you get the job. Baron Christopher Hanson, CEO of RedBaron Consulting LLC, explains that appropriate interview attire varies based on the interview setting. However, “how you as a candidate show up dressed, groomed, decorated, and accessorized overall is going to be inspected in detail for your ‘perfect appropriateness’ for each occasion and meeting,” Hanson says. Here’s what not to wear in an interview, according to CEOs.
Styles that don’t fit the company culture
It’s important to be mindful of the dress codes and expectations that exist in each office environment when choosing an outfit for a job interview. “Your wardrobe, accessories, and grooming decisions should be about the company and your role, not your lifestyle or activism or persona outside of work,” says Hanson. While dressing for an interview does require a certain amount of estimating, Hanson explains that “it’s important to do your homework and try to gather as much visual evidence as to how the company culture and dress code is at work or where your role will predominantly be based.”
If you’re still uncertain about the dress code after researching the company, Laura Hertz, CEO of Gifts for Good, suggests overdressing. “I’d say a good rule of thumb is to dress one level above what the folks at the company wear,” says Hertz. For wardrobe inspiration, Hertz recommends using Glassdoor, social media channels, and other sites related to the company. Once you arrive at the office, remember these words you should never say during a job interview.
Heels that make you trip
Heels can make you feel powerful, confident, and professional—until you wipe out in front of your prospective co-workers. Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation, recommends that “if you do choose to wear heels, they should be comfortable, stylish, and easy to walk in.” If you’re looking for a heel that conveys your qualifications and poise, keep your feet close to the ground. “Avoid stilettos or particularly spiky heels, especially if you struggle to walk around in them,” warns Sweeney.
If you don’t feel comfortable in heels, there’s no shame in benching the shoes altogether. The best way to demonstrate your skills is through knowledge and work ethic, not your balancing skills. According to CEO of ExpertSure Oliver Smith, “a great pair of black flats will do the trick!”