Dressing for an interview is something that’s easy to overthink. While the rules are often unspoken, there are certain do’s and don’ts you’ll really want to stick to. So, should you wear cufflinks to an interview?
It’s generally best to avoid wearing cufflinks to interviews because they can be seen as obnoxious and can also be distracting. They can sometimes be acceptable at interviews for senior-level positions, but even then it’s usually not worth the risk.
Although that’s the short answer, as you’d expect, there’s a little more to it.
After going through the main reasons why it’s best to avoid them in more detail, I’ll run through a few exceptions that you’ll want to consider.
Let’s get to it.
3 Reasons Why It’s Often Best To Avoid Cufflinks For Interviews
Take all of these into account before making your decision.
1. It Can Be Seen As Obnoxious
While cufflinks in themselves are usually small and understated, it’s what they suggest that becomes a problem.
The unfortunate truth is that cufflinks are more commonly associated with elegance rather than professionalism.
After all, a pair of cufflinks is essential for formal attire such as morning dress and white-tie. But for a business suit? Not so much.
At an interview where you’re probably going to be wearing a business suit, popping on cufflinks could be seen as obnoxious.
In many ways, it could be said that this was unfair.
In the modern workplace, men do wear business suits with French cuffs and cufflinks and don’t think twice about it.
They’re just not as common as simple barrel cuffs.
Those wearing French cuffs with a business suit will tend to stand out more than those that don’t.
During a job interview, standing out due to your sense of dress is not what you want.
You could come across as though you’re trying too hard to impress with the wrong details.
It could also come across as though you’ve got poor priorities. You don’t want to be the one that seems as though they care more about style than professionalism.
2. It Can Be Distracting
A pair of cufflinks could distract the interviewer and you yourself.
Cufflinks will usually have a hint of glare to them. This is why they’re so hard to ignore despite being so small and relatively hidden away.
If they do catch the eye of the interviewer, it could catch them off guard, even temporarily.
They’ll notice them and start thinking more about what you’re wearing than what you’re saying.
Even if this is just momentarily, it’s not what you want.
It can also be distracting to you.
The fact that you’re even thinking about whether your cufflinks are appropriate or not is going to be playing on your mind.
Interviews are high-stress environments where you’ll want to make sure your focus and attention are on the right thing.
The energy you’re wasting worrying about what you’re wearing could potentially impact your performance.
3. It’s Not Worth The Risk
Arguably the most important factor to consider is that it’s never usually worth the risk.
You have to ask yourself what the benefits of wearing cufflinks are and weigh them up against the risks.
We’ve talked about the risks already – they can be distracting, obnoxious, and suggest a lack of priorities.
But ultimately, it probably isn’t going to make or break an interview for you.
Then, you have to ask yourself – what are the benefits?
To be honest, there really aren’t any.
It’s highly unlikely that a pair of cufflinks is going to help your interview in any way.
It’s not as though an interview is going to acknowledge a phenomenal sense of style and prioritize it above your words and your resume.
What you’re left with is a risk (albeit a small risk) of the cufflinks working against you with no potential benefit of wearing them either.
Ultimately, the logical conclusion would be that it’s simply not worth the risk.
You’ve got something to lose but nothing to gain.
3 Exceptions Where Cufflinks May Be OK For An Interview
While it’s generally just not a good idea, there are a few exceptions where it may be acceptable to wear cufflinks to an interview.
Consider the following three.
There are certain fields where a bit of flash and pizzazz is encouraged. Marketing comes to mind, as does sales.
Salespeople in particular have a client-facing role where they’re often expected to dress to impress.
Realtors often fall into that category too.
While it would still be best to avoid cufflinks for an interview within these sorts of industries, it would probably be more acceptable and make more “sense” than for others.
When you’re going for an interview at an entry-level position, you’ll want to dress as boringly and conservatively as possible.
Cufflinks shouldn’t even cross your mind.
But if you’re applying for a more senior position – for example, a partner at a law firm – you’ve usually got a few more options.
Once you get to a certain stage of your career, it gets to a point where you almost earned the right to a bit of flexibility when it comes to dress codes.
This is usually an unspoken rule and won’t necessarily apply everywhere. In addition, there’s always a limit.
No matter how senior you get, there are certain things you would just never be allowed to wear.
But a small, subtle pair of cufflinks? Sure, they would probably be fine.
But only you would be able to figure out whether you’re at a stage in your career where you could get away with it or not.
Ultimately, the more seniority and respect you’ve got within your industry, the more likely a simple pair of cufflinks really wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
3. Lack Of Choice
If you only own French cuff shirts, you really don’t have much choice. You’ll have to wear cufflinks.
This is the least acceptable exception. But it’s still an exception.
Everyone should own a simple, buttoned, barrel cuff shirt. In fact, most people will.
But ultimately, if it gets to the day of the interview and for whatever reason, you realize you only have access to French cuff shirts, you won’t have a choice.
When it comes to French cuffs, wearing cufflinks would definitely be better than wearing no cufflinks.
How To Wear Cufflinks For An Interview (If You Must)
Here are some tips for wearing cufflinks to an interview if you’ve read the rest of this post and feel you could potentially get away with doing it (and it’s worth the risk).
- Simple toggle closure or stud cufflinks work best.
- The smaller the cufflinks, the better.
- Try to wear cufflinks of a similar color to your shirt so they don’t stand out.
- Silk knot cufflinks are a better choice because they don’t have glare and look less “fancy”.
There you have it.
Simple reasons why it’s usually a good idea to avoid wearing cufflinks to an interview, with a few exceptions to think about as well.