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6 Fashion Faux Pas You Should Avoid at That Job Interview

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Joanne Poh

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Not everybody needs to show up to a job interview in a G2000 suit. Okay fine, if your job interview takes place at a corner office at Marina Bay Financial Centre, you’d better be prepared to give your best Japanese salaryman impression.

On the other hand, show up looking like that at some startup and they’ll tell you they don’t want to buy any insurance, thank you very much.

But there are some things you should absolutely not show up in, whether your interview takes place at Raffles Place or Tuas, such as the following.

 

1. An ill fitting suit

While not everybody should be showing up for an interview decked out in a business suit, if one is appropriate for your situation, you need to make sure it fits well.

Fresh grads tend to make the mistake of showing up in borrowed suits that are way too big. If the sleeves fall to your knuckles and the shoulders are drowning you, you’re going to look like the Weirdo of Wall Street.

An obviously ill-fitting suit can look so bad you might be better off ditching the blazer altogether and just showing up in a shirt and pants or skirt, even for a corporate interview.

 

2. Stripper heels

You’ll see quite an array of footwear at Raffles Place, from flip flops worn by office workers who’ve left their shoes under their desks, to heels that look like they belong in Kumar’s latest performance.

While you might be able to get away wearing dizzyingly high heels (the kind with a platform under the ball of your feet for that extra lift) at certain workplaces, don’t show up in them for an interview unless you’re trying to get a job as a singer at a Thai disco (and even then, you should probably lower yourself by an inch or two).

Even if you’re interviewing for a job that requires you to look glamorous, it’s difficult to walk comfortably and look at ease in very high heels. By all means wear high heels, but try not to go above 3 inches, and make sure you can walk in whatever shoes you choose without tottering.

 

3. More than one bag

Even if you’re the sort of person whose pockets can contain just about everything you own, you’ll need a bag or briefcase when you show up to an interview so you can carry around copies of your resumé.

But make sure that’s the only bag you’re carrying with you to the interview. Walking into the office with multiple bags dangling unwieldily from your arms makes you look messy and unprofessional.

So as much as you might like to go on a morale-boosting shopping spree right before your interview, abstain.

 

4. Fake eyelashes and pupil enlargers

They may make you look prettier in your opinion, but eyelashes that look discernibly fake should not be worn to interviews. The same goes for those eyeball enlarging contact lenses that make you look like an anime character—people can tell they’re fake no matter how subtle you think you’re being.

That applies even in industries where bold fashion choices are welcome or at least tolerated, like PR and the arts. That’s because fake eyelashes and, especially, pupil enlargers tend to make people take you less seriously or think you’re less capable. It’s not fair that people who resemble anime characters get unfairly marked down, but it happens.

 

5. Too much perfume or cologne

No matter how much you adore your favourite scent, try not to choke your interviewers with it when you spritz more than you should.

Spritz one or two pulse points (eg. wrists) once or twice and that’s enough. Remember that most interviews take place in enclosed air-conditioned spaces, and you don’t want to gas everyone to death.

 

6. Anything too revealing

Thank our tropical climate for it—Singaporeans are quite liberal when it comes to what constitutes a revealing outfit. Some people show up for interviews at banks in skirts that fall two inches above the knee and still manage to get the job (not recommended though).

But it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to showing skin. So gentlemen, even if that startup run is filled with 25-year-olds in Havaianas, wear jeans to your interview, not above-the-knee shorts. And ladies, anything that would make your grandparents raise an eyebrow is probably not a good idea.

Have you ever committed any of the above fashion faux pas, or seen an interview candidate who did? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.