Our Featured Sponsor:
Our Featured Sponsor


It’s Free. It’s Quick.

Career and life game changing information delivered personally to you.

Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

April 14, 2016

Is it ok to wear perfume or cologne to a job interview?

Julie Q. Brush

There are a few qualities about a candidate that stand out as distinct and memorable for an employer during – and after an interview. These qualities include a candidate’s handshake, eye contact, speech style and…fragrance.

Scores of professionals, women and men alike wear fragrance as part of their daily grooming routine. Whether it’s in the office, at home or out on the town, “smelling good” is associated with good stature, status, wealth, formality, attractiveness and self-esteem (to name a few). It can make us feel pretty, seductive, handsome or rugged and evoke positive feelings and memories. Given this powerful effect, the attachment between people and their perfumes is sky high.

But is it ok for a candidate to wear perfume or cologne for a job interview?

As a general rule, candidates should avoid wearing fragrances for job interviews. This recommendation does not rise to the level of an Interview Commandment, however it should be strongly considered given the risks and potential outcomes involved.

It may seem odd that a simple desire to smell good during an interview could compromise a candidacy. But it can. A human being’s sense of smell is the most sensitive of the senses. And research has demonstrated that – smell – is the sense most often linked to our emotional memories – good and bad. So even if your personal fragrance brings you enjoyment, you cannot predict how an interviewer will react. And if that reaction is negative, it will damage your candidacy. Because like the limp or bone-crushing handshake…people remember an unpleasant scent.

Equally offensive is a fragrance that is applied too liberally or emanates too strongly. So even if you live by the “A Little Dab’ll Do Ya” motto, your definition of “a little” could be another’s definition of a lot. In addition, a person’s sense of smell heightens and dulls at different times of the day and month. So bad timing could prove fatal.

For men who wear aftershave for its antiseptic or astringent effects, I recommend purchasing an unscented variety to use before future interviews. For others who are attached to their fragrance and would feel too uncomfortable without it, build up your resistance by going without a day or two a week so you feel more at ease come interview time.

We’ve all been there at one point or another: A meeting or interview with someone whose perfume/cologne knocked our socks off…literally. What impression did it make? And how long did that impression last? Chances are…it was not positive and you remember it to this day. This is not to suggest that you’ll be DOA if you wear perfume or cologne to an interview. But in a competitive interview situation where it’s critical for a candidate to make the very best first impression, the risks far outweigh the rewards.

So as you tidy up your personal presentation for your next interview, skip the finishing touches and opt for fragrance free. And you’ll increase the likelihood of walking out of your interview with the sweet smell of success.

Like this

No Comments have been posted.

No Comments

Please login or join now to ask your question



New Jobs Feature!

Check it Out

Are you an Employer?

Post a job for free! Take advantage of this promotion and advertise your job for 30 days. Use promo code LWJOBS

Kudos From Our Fans

Julie has been a great partner and trusted advisor to me over many years. The Lawyer Whisperer is a terrific resource, whether you are new to the profession or a seasoned counsel.

Matt Fawcett Chief Strategy Officer and Former CLO, NetApp,
The Lawyer Whisperer is required reading for any lawyer who wants to be thoughtful about their career.

Sharon Zezima Former CLO, GoPro,
Great insights on career planning that help me talk with our associates and IH counsel who are thinking about a transition.

Ken King Partner, Skadden Arps,
The Lawyer Whisperer posts are always wise, thoughtful, well written and leave you with new ideas - I try not to miss a post.

Shanti Ariker General Counsel, Zendesk,
No one understands the changing profession better than Julie. She is a proven ally to those of us trying to forge new paths and push the boundaries of what is possible in a legal career.

Eric Lentell Deputy General Counsel, Archer,
Julie is the Dear Abby for lawyers. Her column is one of a kind.

Karineh Khachatourian Founding Partner, KXT Law,


Receive our newsletter for latest trends, compensation info and secrets to a winning career strategy.

This Week's Questions:

No new questions this week

Our Sponsors


The Lawyer Whisperer Sponsors :

Solutus Legal Logo