According to a poll conducted by human resources expert, HR.com, the majority of recruiters and interviewers stated that “arriving poorly dressed or groomed” was their biggest reason for not hiring a candidate. It even beat out “arriving late” and “not knowing what the company does” for rejecting a potential hire. Of course, everyone knows that appearances aren’t everything. However, first impressions usually are.
In a recent article, we discussed actual nightmare job interviews and we outlined 17 Things to Not Say in a Medical Sales Job Interview in another. We all have our bad fashion days, but below are some examples of truly unlucky/misfortunate wardrobe “malfunctions” of actual job candidates. They might have meant well, but it certainly didn’t turn out that way!
Showing some skin
In my very early twenties, I had an interview with a major department store. Well, the day before I picked out a very conservative black skirt and pinstriped top. I even tried the outfit on to insure that it fit. When I arrived at the interview I was greeted by a man in his late thirties or early forties. However, during the interview I noticed that he frequently tilted his body to one side. I thought it a bit odd, though, I assumed the man may have a stiff back and was experiencing discomfort. It wasn’t until I arrived back in my car that I realized that the side seam in my skirt had come apart and I was revealing quite a bit. That’s what I get for shopping the clearance racks. However, the way he was leaning, I’m surprised I didn’t get the job. (Laura P.); SnagAJob
I once bet a friend that I’d to go to an interview looking like I was right off of the set of Miami Vice. Showed up with slicked hair, bright white suit, bright blue shirt, and a glowing white tie. I even referred to the manager and assistant manager as “Crockett and Tubbs” once. I played the interview straight but I had no interest in actually getting the job. Until they offered it to me along with a ridiculous salary. Turns out, the hiring manager was a big Miami Vice fan, thought I was good for the job despite the schtick, and felt the office could use one less stick in the mud employee. (ishkabibbel2000); Bustle
I wore my shirt backwards by accident and spent the whole interview with a red face trying to hold my neck just in case she could see my tag seams. (Anonymous); Buzzfeed
Bart Simpson goes to the interview
I was called up by a recruiter and asked if I could go to an interview on the same day, while roaming the streets of London dressed as Bart Simpson. Surprisingly, I got the job – along with some interesting looks in the waiting room. (ID0716149); The Guardian
I was interviewing for a pretty senior level position at a formal company, so I wore a suit. I went to the bathroom before the interview, and while I was pulling the zipper up, it broke. I started freaking out, looking for a pin or something to hold it closed. I found nothing and worked myself up into a pretty big sweat. I walked into the interview red in the face, sweaty, and with an open fly, which I tried to awkwardly conceal by folding my suit jacket over my arm, shielding the view of my pants. They must not have noticed because I got the job! (And also got my pants fixed). (Anonymous); Hubspot
I was interviewing to become an undergraduate professor at a very traditional, prestigious university. I got there about 25 minutes early so I could look for parking, go to the bathroom, and maybe even get some coffee. It was 7:30 a.m. so nobody was in school yet. I went ahead and bought a small cup of coffee and walked with it towards a table where I could read a newspaper while I waited. Somehow, I spilled half the cup of coffee over my recently bought white blouse.
I had 25 minutes to fix it, so I sprinted to the bathroom and got some water and soap to get it off. I was halfway through washing it out, leaning over the sink in a very ridiculous position, and a lady came in and asks me if I was alright. I told her about my stupid mistake, and how this was a super traditional school so I had dressed up in my suit and white blouse, and so and so forth — I kind of babbled all this at her. Once it looked decent enough (after eventually crawling under the hand dryer to make it dry), I was only five minutes early for my interview. I got in and the interviewer was the same lady that I bumped into the bathroom. My face must have clearly shown my embarrassment because she just laughed. I still got the job. (Anonymous); Hubspot
Yes, job candidates certainly have their embarrassing stories. But so do HR professionals. Here are a few of the worst wardrobe experiences from an interviewer’s/recruiter’s perspective:
No shirt, no shoes…
The person came in without a shirt. No policy against it, so I interviewed. But afterwards, I felt compelled to put up a sign that read, “No Shirt, No Interview.” (Anonymous); HR.com
Tattoos are okay, but…
In a sleeveless denim shirt, blue jeans with ragged knees, and white pumps, the candidate then proceeded to describe the meaning of each of her tattoos. Her ”boyfriend” was waiting for her, and she took a cell-phone call from her husband while I was asking the obligatory questions! (Linda); HR.com
The guy showed up to his interview wearing pigtails, chunky club kid shoes, a kilt, striped tights, and a shirt that said “f**k” on it in big block letters. I passed him on to my boss to interview. (maddomesticscientist); Bustle
The candidate arrived in a cat suit. (Anonymous); Reader’s Digest
A candidate complained that she was hot. She then said “Excuse me” and removed her socks. After placing them on the desk, she continued as if everything was normal. (Anonymous); Reader’s Digest
There is always a chance for a fashion faux pas on either side of the interview table, whether it’s intentional or not. For those being interviewed, remember that first impressions and yes, even appearances always count, whether you like it or not. It’s always a good idea to carefully select your attire beforehand and of course, prepare for and expect the unexpected (i.e., spilling coffee all of yourself, etc.). For interviewers, keep in mind that an interview is a stressful ordeal for any job candidate, so unless the “malfunction” is clearly obvious and intentional, go easy on them!