3 Grooming Faux Pas Your Interviewer Won’t Tell You


Men and women have different faux pas when it comes to wardrobe. However, they make a lot of the same mistakes when it comes to personal hygiene and grooming – and an interviewer will definitely take notice.

While most of my clients apply to work in conservative environments like law firms, investment banks, and corporations, the hygiene and grooming faux pas discussed here are important to avoid in any work environment.

They are the distracting and annoying mistakes that could put an end to all the hard work you’ve done in writing your resume, targeting employers, and scheduling and preparing for interviews.

That’s pretty bad. But the good news these mistakes are all avoidable.

Those who’ve read my other blogs and How to Get a Legal Job: A Guide for New Attorneys and Law School Students know I don’t just rely on my own opinions for these tips.

I spend a great deal of time talking to hiring decision-markers, including hiring directors, interviewers, personnel managers, and recruiters—in other words, the people who will be interviewing you.

What Your Interviewer Won’t Tell You

Here are three grooming faux pas to avoid:

1. You Stink

Maybe you smell like cigarette smoke. Or, you used too much perfume or cologne. Maybe your breath is horrible.

Whatever it is, it’s making your interviewer’s nose wrinkle and eyes water, and she’s counting the minutes until your interview is over. Air out (or better yet, clean) those dress clothes that have been stored in your smoke-filled home. Don’t smoke before your interview.

Keep applications of cologne, perfume, and scented products to a minimum. Save your pungent and spicy snacks until after your interview.

In other words, don’t be remembered as the guy that caused your interviewer to Febreeze her office and that sent her running for her asthma inhaler.

2. You Should’ve Done Something About That Facial Hair

Yes, this does apply to men and women. Unruly—or unexpected—facial hair is a distraction to your interviewer.

He doesn’t want to stare at the tufts of hair coming for your ears or your hairy lip, but he can’t help himself.

Guys, keep in mind that—fair or not—facial hair is a no-no in some workplaces. So keep your mustache, beard, and sideburns in good order, and be aware that you may be better off clean-shaven for your interviews.

3. You’re Sweaty

Of course we all sweat, and even more so when we’re nervous. But the old adage, “Never let them see you sweat” holds true for job interviews.

A sweaty handshake is an unpleasant way to start the interview—both for you and for your interviewer. So bring a handkerchief with you to dry off those sweaty palms before you walk in the door.

And while you’re at it, dab down your forehead, nose, upper lip, or any place else you’re prone to visibly sweat. Wear your antiperspirant and deodorant, and dress in natural fibers that allow your skin to breathe and sweat to evaporate.

Enjoy this article? You’ve got time for another! Check out these related articles:

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Shauna C. Bryce

Shauna C. Bryce, Esq. practiced law in New York and New Jersey before starting Bryce Legal Career Counsel, a boutique offering resume writing services for lawyers.


  1. With all due respect to the author of the article and to all others who have commented this article is nonsensical. Even if a career coach gives you this advice these not-to-things are just plain common sense. If a candidate does not come to this realization by themselves it speaks volumes to me concerning their intelligence (street smarts) and the lack of maturity – regardless of their age. It is about people taking proactive responsibility for their actions even before those actions have an effect on others.

  2. Dress for success and not for a frat party or a night on the town.

    Avoid excessive makeup.

    Avoid unwanted facial expressions – conduct a dry run with a friend who will give you honest feedback.

  3. whats good for the goose is good for the gander,but not in an interview.i went to an interview and the manager had a bogger hanging out of his very red nose. try not to stare at their flares either. i sat in my chair so grossed out i had to wonder if he knew it was there because i was twitching in my seat and wanting to scream because they sold food!

  4. 4. All of the above probably describes your potential boss. But since you are not actually employed yet, you are not entitled to indulge in stinking, sweating or displaying distracting facial hair.

  5. I showed up for an interview a few months ago and was the only applicant who actually DRESSED for it.

    One lady was wearing sweatpants and another had her hair pulled back in a ponytail.

    Sweatpant lady had her resume in her hand — it was folded in quarters and in poor shape because she’d probably carried it like that all the way from home in the heavy, wet snow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *