By Tonya Wells – I have been in the recruiting business for many years now, and I can’t tell you how many people have lost me the minute I walked out to the lobby to bring them back to our conference room for their interview. The interview starts for a recruiter the minute they lay eyes on you, so you need to put as much effort into how you’ve dressed for the interview as you do in preparing for the interview questions.
So, I’ve put together my Top 10 Interview Shoe Tips for What NOT to Wear to an Interview (if you actually want the job anyway). Today, we are going to focus on the shoes. Yep, that’s it. Just interview shoes. If you’d like to read about more of my tips, I have a book called, “What to Wear to a Job Interview – How to Dress for an Interview and What NOT to Wear to a Job Interview” that is available via ebook right now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Apples Bookstore, and most other major sites that carry ebooks. This book focuses on the whole package, not just your interview shoes.
So, here we go:
- Ditch the 5″ Hooker Heels. You know who you are. You love wearing them because they lift your butt and make your boobs stick out; not a cool look at an interview though. When you do this, you become an absolute distraction to males and females alike, and we become so focused on trying to make eye contact with you that we can’t stay focused on actually learning more about you (and that is because 9 times out of 10, you have on an equally distracting outfit when you wear these kind of shoes to an interview). Keep the shoes limited to 3″ heels. That goes for when you actually get the job as well. You don’t want to be a distraction to all your co-workers.
- Ditch the flip flops, ratty tennis shoes with holes in them, and basically anything that shows skin unless you are applying for a surf or snorkel shop job. And, don’t show up for an interview with the oversize basketball shoes with the laces untied. (I’ve seen this one many times too, and I automatically think ‘Do they know their shoes laces are untied or is that on purpose?’ Either way, it shows laziness/sloppiness.) I know, some jobs are outdoor jobs or some jobs are located in cities where it is hot. You may need to wear these kinds of shoes to fit in once you get the job, but these are not the interview shoes to wear to an interview. Again, total distraction to the interviewer, and we check off the ‘sloppy dress’ check box in our head the minute we size you up. (I would say about the only exception would be peekaboo heels that show only your toes if your toes are neatly manicured and semi-attractive.)
- Ditch the colored shoes. Again, it’s a distraction. I’ve seen red, hot pink, purple, neon green interview shoes. Colored shoe laces are just as bad! You want people looking at your eyeballs, not checking out your shoes. I don’t care if they perfectly match the color of your outfit. Ditch them and go with a neutral color – dark gray, black, tan, brown are always a good choice. They might be a conversation starter, but if it cuts into the amount of time you are interviewed, the interviewer might get to the end of the interview slot and have to cut the interview short because they have run out of time. And, it won’t be your shoes that gets you the job.
- Don’t show up in your favorite pair of 100 year old loafers. Your interview shoes should be free of scuffs, scratches, mud, etc. I have literally had people walk into my lobby with mud on the bottom of their shoes, gotten it all over my lobby carpet, and appeared to wonder what the big deal was when I pointed it out to them. For men, the best look you can go with is a pair of men’s professional shoes (either lace-ups or slip-ons) in a dark neutral color. White and camel-colored professional shoes (which is a tan with a very orange-y look to them) very rarely go with anything. So, try sticking with khaki, brown, black, dark maroon, or a dark navy shoe.
- No muddy, scuffy boots. Boots make a nice polished look to any outfit as long as they GO with the outfit. If you are applying for an outside job, boots are great as long as they are clean and don’t look like you’ve been working in them at your job site. (Again, I don’t want mud on my carpet after you’re gone!) Cowboy boots and nice professional looking leather boots are great too as long as they look appropriate with the outfit. My advice is boots should come up no higher than one inch below the knee, and should be tall enough that your pants legs can either tuck into them or fit over them. Be careful wearing anklet boots. Some of these can border on looking like hooker boots. Don’t wear anklet boots with a shorter skirt, for example. That look is too casual unless you are interviewing for a retail position, and even then, it borders on being too casual. Keep the heels low, the boot in a neutral color, and make sure they complement your outfit and don’t become the #1 focus of your outfit.
- Make sure your interview shoes do not have holes in the bottom or have anything stuck to the bottom of them. You don’t want your interviewer staring at the sticker your kids were playing with this morning that is now attached to the bottom of your shoe.
Okay, let’s touch briefly on socks and hosiery. This seems to be an area that a lot of people really pay no attention to, but boy, do recruiters notice!.
- White socks never go with anything if you’re applying for an inside job unless you are required to wear white tennis shoes. If your outfit requires socks, stick with a solid, dark color like black or brown. Don’t get fancy here. I don’t want to remember you for your socks.
- Your work socks need to come up high enough that they are about four or five inches higher than where your slacks hit the sides of your shoes. When you sit down and cross your legs, men, I do not want to see your hairy legs sticking out! And men, please, please, please, do not wear anything attached to your socks that hold them up. That is so 1940’s. Don’t do it.
- No baggy knee highs. Ladies, if you are going to wear knee high hosiery, you need to make absolutely certain that when you sit down and cross your legs that I cannot see the top of your knee high socks. That is not an attractive look. It makes me think of my granny. Also, make sure it is a brand new pair of knee highs to ensure that they aren’t encircling your ankles like bracelets. And, make sure there are no runs in them. Not how you want to be remembered.
- If you are wearing a dress to an interview, don’t ever show up without wearing pantyhose. Wear plain nude or black pantyhose with no texture in them. This is not the time to pull out your hosiery with the paisley print, stripes, or fish net. And, do not buy the cheapest pair of hosiery that you can find. A good $10+ pair of pantyhose will make your legs look perfectly smooth, will hide any stubble your razor missed (because you WILL remember to shave those legs, RIGHT?), and if they are in a nice nude color, you won’t even be able to tell you are wearing them. If you are not wearing them, I will definitely be able to tell. Pantyhose hide even the smallest blemishes on your legs, and if you buy a pair with a control top, they will eliminate those awful tummy rolls as well. So, invest in a good pair of them. I personally always take an emergency pair of hosiery with me and keep them in my car on days that I have appointments or interviews with candidates. Give them a spot check before you go in, and if there is a run in them, change into your emergency pair before going in for your interview.
If you will incorporate this into your final interview attire checklist, you will show up looking polished and professional. Just keep in mind, if we are watching someone scrub mud off the carpet after you leave, we won’t be remembering you for the right reasons! A great pair of interview shoes will help you to look sharp for your interview. If you found these tips to be helpful, you are going to love my new upcoming book on Amazon’s Kindle site, “What to Wear to a Job Interview – How to Dress for an Interview and What NOT to Wear to a Job Interview“! So, go buy yourself a copy!