Should You Cover Your Tattoos For A Job Interview?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 21, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Anything that will make you look professional, reliable and punctual is a bonus when it comes to a job interview. Whether you need to hide your tattoo in a job interview or not depends on how bad you want the job and the culture of the company you’re applying for.

Yes, you should cover your tattoos for a job interview if you know it’s going to get in the way if your dream job. If you have covered it for the interview, be honest about it rather than hiding it and research the company policy and tattoos.

Perception of People With Tattoos

No one can force you to cover your tattoo before a job interview. You can show up to an interview with your tattoo visible, but be aware some employers may look on this negatively.

This doesn’t mean that pre-judging someone based on a drawing they decided to have on their skin for self-expression is acceptable. It just means that, if the chances of you getting accepted are higher when you cover your tattoo, then you should do so.

How Employers View Tattoos

People with visible tattoos have reported facing problems with work and job interviews. Studies show that when hirers and interviewers meet someone with a visible tattoo and piercing, it hurts their chance of being accepted. Others claim employees with visible tattoos might affect the company’s reputation and affect other coworkers.

Your tattoo might look cool to your friends or other members of society, but it’ll look like a reason not to accept you to your interviewer — especially if your job is a customer-facing one.

Why Tattoos Are Associated With Negative Symbols

If you study the history of tattoos, how they started and what they were associated with, you’ll get an idea of how people today perceive tattoos. To a large segment of people, tattoos resemble criminality, gang-related activity, drug addiction or rebellion. The link between these and prisons and gangs is strong, which is clearly negative.

You might be thinking that this mentality is extremely outdated. You’re right. Many companies are dissolving such ideas and prefer to evaluate employees without bringing tattoo bias into the picture.

Even so, there’s still a larger percentage of employers that automatically disqualify a potential employee at the sight of a tattoo. 

What Can You Do?

These are good options to take before your job interview:

  • Hide the tattoo
  • Research the company’s culture and policy
  • Be honest

Hide it

Of course, you can just cover up your tattoo; there are many ways to hide it. This will be much easier if the location doesn’t appear through work attire — areas such as:

  • Back
  • Chest
  • Thighs
  • Stomach

Small tattoos make life easier here since you can conceal it away or even wear a watch if it’s on your wrist. 

If it isn’t small or hidden, consider using makeup to conceal it — foundation can work really well.

Research the Company’s Culture

Some companies and job roles do the right thing, which is hiring people based on what they can add to the company, not according to how they look. They welcome tatted employees and support equality and freedom of self-expression. You’ll find these companies in industries such as:

  • Technology
  • Music
  • Media

Before you head for the interview, study the company’s culture and policies. Perhaps visit their office and get an idea of what their current employees look like. If you’re planning to sign up for the air force or marine corps, for example, brush up on their tattoo policy first. Company requirements can be relatively easy to find in a lot of cases.

Interviews are already nerve-wracking, and you don’t want to spend it wondering whether the interviewer noticed your tattoo. Your research will tell you if you should cover your tattoo or proudly show it off for the interview.

Be Honest

Adding concealer and foundation or wearing long sleeves in the summer every day can be a burden on you. Committing to doing this until god knows when is a hard decision to make. Consider being honest with the interviewer if you have a tattoo that would require an effort to be hidden.

Tell them about your tattoo and ask whether it will affect your application, then proceed with the interview as normal. This can risk distracting the interviewer from focusing on your experience and skills, but it might save you future suffering. 

Some people hide the tattoo for the interview and show it after they get the job. This isn’t the smartest move since your manager will probably move you to a position that isn’t customer-facing, although employment law may prevent this. This could dampen your ability for promotions and, therefore, raises.

It’s better to show your tattoo in the interview if you’ll show it at work. Not being accepted is better than being accepted and neglected afterward.

The Answer to Your Question Is…

Yes, you should cover your tattoo for a job interview. Not because society thinks you’re a criminal, though. This is how the world works: employers have a different mentality when it comes to hiring someone who’s showing off a nice full-sleeved Don Ed Hardy tattoo, although this perception could be slowly changing.

The important thing is to decide what works best for you. If you refuse to hide it, be assured that there are companies out there who’d love to see your body art every day.

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