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Clothing for a software internship interview

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    Clothing for a software internship interview

    Hey guys, I've got an in-person interview next week. Thought advice can never hurt. So here's the background: I'm a first-year college student applying for a software engineering internship. Now, the norm for those things (college, and software) is extremely casual attire. I don't really care about the norms though, and especially in an interview, I'll be making an effort to look well. Also, I think dressing up will make me appear more competitive against applicants who might have a few years on me as long as I don't look too pretentious.

    I was planning on a dress or buttoned shirt and tie. So here are my questions:

    1) Considering this field, is that too much? My guess is no, but if you have objections, speak now.

    2) I've got a nice dress shirt and tie combo that I like, but I don't think the shirt is a great fit. The dimensions are fine, but it's not a slim fit so there tends to be a lot of extra material floating around my sides. Should I buy another, more slim-fitting shirt for this occasion, or is non-slim alright in a more professional setting?

    (Also, would it be possible to get it tailored in 48 hours and should I consider that?)

    3) This is my biggest question at the moment: What type of pants should I wear? I'm deciding between a conservative pick (my charcoal suit trousers) and a more modern choice like khaki chinos. My guess is the chino's wouldn't look correct with a baggy shirt, so this question relies on question 2.

    I'll try to put up some images soon so you know what I'm looking at.

    Also, if you have any more suggestions, I'd love to hear them.



    Nothing looks right with a baggy shirt. Khakis are fine. Do the shirt and tie, but if you can either get your shirt taken in or get a fitted shirt.



      A v-neck sweater can solve the baggy shirt problem.



        I'm a software guy, and I've had 5 different jobs in the field. I've never been required to dress up on the job, but I also have always dressed up for the interview. IT head hunters agree with me on this, and they get paid for placing people so they know what employers are looking for. Since it sounds like you own a suit, there's no harm in wearing it. When I see someone show up for an interview in anything less than a suit (unless they've been told otherwise by the interviewer), I always think they look either apathetic or uninformed.that goes double for young interviewees.

        That and I'm a major hater of the jacketless tie without either a sweater or rolling up the sleeves (and you can't do the latter in an interview for sure).



          Also, where is the interview taking place? I would expect on-campus interviews to be more formal than a software dev shop, and a suit is a great way to impress not just the recruiter, but also the campus career center folks.

          In the end, though, since its just an internship, what you wear to the interview probably wont make or break you so long as its clean and it looks like you made a modest effort.



            I totally agree with Jason on this. A baggy shirt never looks good. Look for a slim fit shirt. All it takes is a trip to JC Penney, Marshall's or TJ Maxx and you can find one for $20. I'm not in the software field, so Alan's advice is good to take.



              Well, I've been in software for almost 15 years and he's probably going to be better dressed than I have been for any of those interviews. I've never worn a suit for an interview.



                To be fair, I REALLY hate the jacketless tie. I think it makes you look like you forgot something. And interview-worthy odd jackets on college kids makes me think "frat daddy".

                Also, only 1 of those 5 companies was a software developer. The rest were companies in other fields that needed an internal developer.

                If all else fails, the campus career center can likely give guidance. Assuming this internship was found through the school, then the school probably has an ongoing relationship with the company and knows what they want to see.



                  I'm one of those IT Headhunters that Alan is talking about, and agree that a suit is the way to go. Unless a client is extremely, and I am talking extremely casual, we always suggest suiting it up. I know many hiring managers who would hire the intern candidate who dressed up over the one who dressed down if all other things were equal.



                    In the words of the great Barney Stinson, "Suit up!" Even if the other interviewer is dressed casually, he won't mind the suit if you just stay focus on the interview



                      Has anyone here seen someone not get a job because they wore a suit and the interviewer thought they were overdressed?



                        Directly because they were wearing a suit? No. Because they seemed nervous and uncomfortable? Yes.

                        It depends on what kind of organization it is. Big Fortune 500 companies hire software engineers, but the culture there is very different from software companies like I've worked for. It also depends on who you're interviewing with. I've got a candidate coming in on Friday and they're meeting with our director of development, myself, and a couple other developers here. If they pass that hurdle then they'll meet with our CEO (but I dress up more than he does).

                        If you have a suit that fits well and you feel comfortable in it, then by all means wear it. If it doesn't fit well or you would feel uncomfortable or fidgety in it, then skip it unless it's a conservative environment.

                        Like I said before, I spent 2 years at my current job wearing jeans every day with the same pair of beat up old Keens, so the bar is pretty low here.



                          @Chareth: One time, I had an interview where the company specifically requested me to show up casually, but my headhunter forgot to relay the message. I showed up in my suit as usual. I could tell they were uncomfortable with it, and that made me uncomfortable. I didn't get that job. I'll never know precisely why I didn't get it, but surely the suit was working against me that time.



                            Alan, I'm lucky I haven't been put in that position before.

                            Sounds like the best thing to do is to ask your headhunter, or your HR contact/corporate recruiter at the firm where you're interviewing what would be appropriate before going in.



                              Thanks for the comments guys! The company is a small start-up, so it doesn't have the Fortune 500 culture you guys mentioned. I'll be doing the interview at their office during my spring break. And since I don't have a garment bag, a full suit won't be possible. (hmm, unless I wore it on the plane. I guess that's a possibility)

                              And looking at the 10-day forecast, it's supposed to be rainy on that day, so I'll probably stop at the store and pick up an extra layer. I've been wanting a good V-neck sweater or perhaps a blazer, so I'll try to find something else.

                              So I think I'll bring the shirt and tie with me, but I'll go to the store and find something else to pull it together.