Job Interview Fashion Advice: Don’t Smell


My thinking on interview fashion has shifted over the years. I used to believe that you should wear what you would normally wear to the office so that hiring managers could get a good sense of your style and personality. Then I thought — wait, that’s wrong, you should always dress better than the person who is interviewing you.

Now I think that I don’t give a rip. Wear whatever fits you. Try to be clean. Don’t smell like you need a shower.

In a perfect world, most of us would be mature enough to realize that everyone has a smell. No matter how clean or how tidy, the human body can do some funky things. And how you look and smell should have no bearing on whether or not you are hired to do a job. Just like your skin color and your last name, appearance and smells are unrelated to your knowledge, skills and abilities.

But when it comes to smell, people have different sensibilities. And some people struggle to tolerate normal body odor. If your body sweats excessively (like mine) and you smell the least bit off, you might be in trouble before the interview starts.

So what can you do?

Start with a clean slate. I’ve previously suggested to wash your clothes in WIN Detergent. Lately I’ve been using Sport Wash. Either will work. Oxyclean doesn’t cut the biological enzymes from laundry and Tide Sport is okay but doesn’t break down the sweat as effectively as WIN or Sport Wash.

I’m also a big believer in antiperspirant and deodorant. Not because I want to shackle you in traditional Western notions of beauty. I just want you to be comfortable while you’re having an anxiety attack from answering stupid interview questions. You probably can’t afford Botox shots in your armpits. Honestly, those are very painful and I’ve given up on them. You can try an over-the-counter solution like Drysol. And here’s a pro-tip for you — I use this on my feet during the summer. Prolongs the life of my Converse.

Finally, your smells don’t stop at your armpits. I’ve recommended deodorant body wash and soap because it’s cheap and it works for both men and women. Dial and Lever Soap are good solutions for people who take a shower, get out and start sweating immediately. (That’s me, by the way.)

So there you go. Wear something nice to your interview. Don’t look like a slob. Your clothes should be nice enough to pass the “he’s not homeless” test and neutral enough so that a recruiter is listening to you and not looking at your shoes.

And try not to smell. That’s it. Really.

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