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If you’re new to interviewing, you may be unsure of what to wear. This is especially true if you’re applying for something entry level or if you’re still a teen or student. The term “dress for success” is always a good rule of thumb, no matter what the job! So what does that entail, exactly? Some say that you should dress for the job you want, and others say you should dress for the job above the one you want. Essentially, your look should be polished and you should avoid sloppy or slouchy clothing.

Interviewers use what you wear to help get an idea of who you are and what kind of worker you will be. While this may seem superficial, we all do this from time to time without even realizing it. An interviewer is seeing you outside of your natural habitat. He doesn’t know where you live, who your friends are or how you spend your days. All he has to go by is your resume, how you answer questions and what you look like.

What Shirts Not to Wear for a Job Interview

What you wear to an interview may seem arbitrary, but it’s actually a really important decision. Since you’re just starting out in the workforce, you may not have the appropriate clothes readily available. If you can, try to borrow from someone or even check out your local second hand store. Wearing the wrong clothes can kill an interview, no matter how well the rest of the interview goes.

  • Don’t wear shirts with large logos, distracting prints or any type of wording.

  • Don’t wear t-shirts, as they are too informal for this type of setting.

  • Don’t wear shirts with holes or rips, or shirts that are faded or stained.

  • Never wear just an undershirt or a shirt with no sleeves.

  • Never wear a baseball cap or anything else on your head (unless it’s for religious purposes).

  • Don’t wear your shirt untucked unless it sits too high to properly tuck in.

    The general rule for shirts is that you want the shirt you pick to be understated and sophisticated. It’s possible to look under-dressed for a job interview, but almost impossible to look over-dressed. If you think a particular shirt may be too formal, it probably isn’t.

    What Pants Not to Wear for a Job Interview

    Selecting the right style of pants for a job interview can also be difficult. While an interviewer probably won’t notice if you’re wearing interview appropriate pants, he almost definitely will notice if you’re not. Therefore, it’s always best to do whatever you can to get the appropriate attire, even if you have to borrow from someone or buy something second hand.

  • Don’t wear pants that are faded, ripped, torn or stained.

  • Avoid pants that are an unusual color, as they will stand out.

  • Don’t wear jeans that are baggy or sit too low. Jeans in general should be avoided if possible.

  • Make sure your pants are too tight or hit too high on your ankles.

  • Don’t wear non-dressy sneakers, boots, sandals or flip-flops.

    Your pants most likely won’t be as visible to the interviewer as your shirt, since you’ll probably be sitting at a table after you’ve walked into the room. However, that first impression before you sit down is crucial. Additionally, wearing professional-looking pants can actually boost your confidence and help you interview better. The more closely you dress like the interviewer, the less intimidated you’ll be and the more he will see you as an equal instead of an underling.

    In addition to picking the right shirt and pants for the interview, guys will also want to avoid wearing any type of jewelry besides a simple ring. Carry a messenger bag instead of a backpack. You can also just carry any materials in a manila size binder. Make sure your hair looks clean and presentable, and clean any dirt from under your fingernails.

    Dressing up for an interview may feel a little strange at first. You might feel a bit self-conscious or like you’re putting on a fake persona. In truth, you dressed up is still you! In time the look will feel natural, and depending on the job you’re applying for, this may be the only time you need to get dressy for it. Once you’ve shaken the interviewer’s hand and received confirmation that the job is yours, this “new persona” will feel completely natural.

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