Career Advice

Tattoos and Job Interviews

Over the years as an instructor and business owner of a student program, I have taught the topic of job interview attire. There are certain things students get in a huff about during that topic and one thing that comes up without fail – can I show my tattoos during a job interview? My answer has always been the same – no. Let me explain why I have given that answer and a bit more around tattoos and job interviews.

It is better to err on the side of caution and be conservative when making the decision to show your tattoos during an interview. Why? Because you don’t know how your tattoo will be perceived. Until you obtain the job and have an opportunity to know the culture, don’t show your tattoo artwork.  According to Kristen Folts, University of Tampa and author of the research paper The Millennial’s Perception of Tattoos: Self Expression or Business Faux Pas?,  says most of her undergraduate business students that have tattoos said they plan on concealing them during job interviews because they know how the corporate world works.

Some industries are more lenient than others about tattoos. However, during an interview, you may not know that information and besides – you don’t have the job, yet.

An associate of mine said it best while giving a presentation to my class a few years ago during the topic of how to dress for an interview – “don’t give a company a reason NOT to hire you.”

While this may be very difficult to hear, I must be honest and tell you this bit of information. There are many people who believe professionalism should be based on how someone interacts and treats others. However, there are sometimes perceptions about people with tattoos.

Joanne Blake, President and Owner of Style for Success, a Canadian Corporate Image Consulting Firm, says tattoos are quite mainstream today. However, historically they were associated with gangs.  Some people also view tattoos as being rebellious. Because of that, many many people may develop a negative first impression.

Companies are sometimes very sensitive about hiring employees with tattoos who are representing them face-to-face with clients. Diane Gottsman, owner of the Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and business etiquette training says that there will always be conservative clients. Therefore, there will be companies who will be very careful in their hiring process.


According to article Should You Cover Up Tattoos for a Job Interview?, there are an estimated four in 10 people who have tattoos? 70% of those people say they cover their tattoos at work.


Below are some things you can do to prepare for your next interview:

1. Do some research on the company website – Do some investigation about the culture of the organization you are getting ready to interview with. Try looking up information on their company site to see if you can get a feel for the company culture.

2. LinkedIn – Using LinkedIn, try to connect with someone you may know that works at the company to gain some insight about the company. When you connect, ask them some questions about the culture.

3. Contact Human Resources – Many companies have dress code policies around tattoos. Inquire with the company’s Human Resources department to find out what those policies are.

4. Conceal Your Tattoo – If your tattoo is in a place that you can cover it up, then do so. Please see the video below on one way to cover your tattoo:


5. If Concealing is Not an Option – Sometimes tattoos are in places that are very hard to cover up (hands, neck, etc.) If your tattoo will clearly be seen during the interview, come right out and talk about it briefly. Inquire if your tattoo will have an affect on your candidacy for the position. Then swing the conversation back to you and what you bring to the table for the organization. Remember, you want people to focus on your skill set, not your tattoo.

While I am not suggesting you need to go to this extent for a job interview, if you ever decide to remove your tattoo (for whatever reason), there are certain aspects you should know and consider about that process. To read more about the removal process, read this article Best Tattoo Removal: Here’s What to Know. This informative article discusses creams and if they work as well as having tattoos surgically and removed by laser.

While many companies may frown upon employees having tattoos, there are several companies that embrace individuality and hire those with ink. According to the article Meet the Most Tattoo-Friendly Companies (September, 2016), below is the list of those tattoo-friendly companies referred to in the article:

While many restaurants are tattoo-friendly, it can depend on the specific role someone has at the restaurant and the geographic location.

Some employers have policies that allow tattoos, but put limits on those that are offensive, provocative, depict violence, foul language, nudity, or symbolism. Tattoos that fall in any one of those categories, must be covered during work hours.

If you are looking to work for a tattoo-friendly company, research those companies listed above or do a bit of research to see if the list goes beyond those that are listed above. With all the on-line information, you should be able to find out further tattoo-friendly companies to work for.

There may be many different trains of thought around tattoos and job interviews. However, when you are unsure of the culture, it’s best to be conservative and conceal your tattoo before the interview. Remember, during the interview, you are trying to obtain the job, so being conservative is best at that point of the game. There are certainly things you can do to prepare ahead of time. Being prepared is always best before you put your best foot forward for that next job opportunity.

I wish you all the best in your career endeavors.

2 thoughts on “Tattoos and Job Interviews

  1. Thank you for this excellent article! It was very helpful. I do agree with many points listed here! I agree that it’s better to be on the safe side and conceal tattoos when in an interview. Thank you, once again, for this information.

    1. Kareemah, thank you for stopping by and for the comment. I am happy to hear you enjoyed the article and it was helpful. Along with that information, it is definitely important to do your research and try to find out what the culture of the company. Sometimes we just don’t know and that’s why I say err on the side of caution when in doubt. Have an amazing day and I wish you all the best in your career endeavors.

Leave a Reply

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