Actually, I believe the question should be “Should I wear jeans to a job interview?”
I won’t keep you in suspense as to what my answer, as a Hiring Manager, is to this question: no, you should never wear jeans to a job interview. Now, let’s expound on that a bit.
Many years ago, the accepted standard for what to wear to a job interview was slacks or a skirt, a dress shirt or dress blouse, and a nice jacket. For men, adding a tie was considered optional but preferable.
Times have changed and a more casual look is now the norm for most companies. Whereas in the past jeans were accepted on the job attire only for blue-collar jobs, they have now worked their way into the office and even the executive suite.
So, if jeans are now acceptable dress for employees in many companies, shouldn’t they also be acceptable for your job interview at those companies? The answer is maybe yes or maybe no. This can even vary by Hiring Managers within the same company. What’s acceptable dress for one may be an elimination factor for another.
Tailored, designer jeans with a dress shirt and blazer are now even considered normal business casual by many companies and Hiring Managers. But in my opinion, this does not mean that jeans are now okay to wear to a job interview.
Why Jeans Should Not Be Worn to an Interview
First, even if jeans are acceptable in the workplace for that company, you should always dress up one step for your interview. This means no jeans.
If you wear jeans to your interview with me, I look at it almost as if you’re daring me to mark you down for what you think is a terrific look. It may be a terrific look, but not in your interview.
To me, it’s presumptuous at best to assume that jeans are acceptable for your interview.
Many Hiring Managers will disagree with me on this. They have no problem with a well-fitting and smart-looking pair of jeans being worn to an interview.
The problem is, you don’t know how the interview team will react to jeans. If you have to wonder if jeans are acceptable in your interview, then they aren’t.
Remember this: traditional business attire is universally accepted. Jeans are not.
Where It Might Be Acceptable to Wear Jeans to Your Interview
- Entry-level blue-collar jobs, e.g. the trades
- Jobs in high fashion. For example, trendy clothing boutiques, fashion publications, etc.
- Fast food and entry-level retail positions.
- Some IT jobs, usually smaller companies or start-ups. Large established technology companies may be jeans casual in the workplace but will still expect a more professional look in an interview.
Where You Should Never Wear Jeans to an Interview
- Jobs in the financial industry.
- Jobs in the Banking Industry
- Jobs in the Insurance Industry
- Jobs in any sort of investing activity
These are all conservative industries where how you dress will be an important factor in your interview.
Tips For If You Insist On Wearing Jeans
- Try to scout the company beforehand if at all possible. If most employees are wearing jeans, there’s a better chance that they’ll be acceptable in your interview. If you’re unable to scout, don’t risk it – wear traditional business casual.
- Make sure to wear dark or black jeans and that they are very well-fitting.
- Pair your jeans with a dress shirt or blouse, a blazer, and dressy shoes. At least this will fit some Hiring Manager’s idea of business casual.
- No holes or rips in your jeans, even if they are designed that way and cost $300.
Here’s the Bottom Line on Jeans
Yes, today’s business world is much more casual. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to more casual interviews.
While wearing jeans may not hurt you in some instances, it will never help you. The best you can hope for is neutral. Traditional interview attire is 100% acceptable so why take a chance?
Ditch the jeans when you interview. You’ll look more professional and you’ll never walk into an interview wondering if those great-looking jeans are going to also look great to the interview panel.