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What NOT to Wear to Job Interviews

Back in the day, there used to be one uniform for the job interview: black suit, blue button down shirt and dress shoes. But with today’s varying dress codes in the actual workplace, the professional dress for a job interview has begun to fluctuate as well. With that, the rules of what to wear to your job search have changed.

If you’re interviewing for a position that’s in a corporate setting, opt for the traditional professional dress — the suit, the tie, the polished shoes. These offices are more conservative and hanging onto that tradition. However, you can still dress to impress.

Tan and gray suits are just as acceptable as well as purple, red or pink button down shirts. Just keep the colors subtle. Opt for a pink windowpane button down over a hot pink solid shirt. You can get experimental with the tie or your jewelry. Just make sure it still evokes a professional personality.

If you’re interviewing at an agency or creative workplace, like a startup, you don’t have to sport the suit and tie. It may even be appropriate to wear jeans to some of these interviews. Just make sure that your interview ensemble still conveys a professional, hard-working attitude. While these spaces may be more lax on dress code, this isn’t the time to “show off” your prized Sponge Bob Squarepants t-shirt.

And while professional dress at interviews doesn’t matter as much as it used to, CareerBuilder recently found that the colors you choose to wear for your job interviews could have an impact on hiring decisions. When CareerBuilder asked employees what colors they like to see on job candidates, the majority said blue while black came in second. In the survey, they added that black, blue, brown and gray gave off the best sense of professionalism.

Conversely, orange was voted the absolute worst color to wear to job interviews, as reported by CareerBuilder. White seems to evoke a good sense of organization while red seemed to symbolize power. Creative employers said that green, yellow or purple helped them to identify like job candidates.

In the CareerBuilder survey, employers also stressed the importance of wearing clothes to the interview that actually fit. Wearing clothes that are too tight or revealing sends the wrong message to employers while clothes that are too loose and baggy tell recruiters and hiring managers that candidates aren’t serious about their work.

Video interviews are also on the rise in today’s job search, and with that, there are a separate set of rules for what candidates should wear to job interviews. White can wash out faces in videos, and it’s important not to wear the same color as the background of your video interview location. However, some of the same rules still apply. Dress professionally, and make sure your clothes fit.

The rules may have changed for professional dress in the job interview, but one thing remains the same. Recruiters and hiring managers are still judging you by what you wear. Make sure it’s professional, friendly and appropriate.

What else should today’s job seekers keep in mind when planning their outfits for job interviews? Share now in our comments!

Written by

Kathryn is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University and has five years experience writing for major job search and higher education websites. When she's not writing for the web, Kathryn is hanging out with her new baby girl, traveling, cooking, reading and running. She believes that the perfect job is out there for everyone and hopes to help Spark Hire job seekers discover their career passion and pursue it.

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