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How important is a conservative suit for an interview?

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  • How important is a conservative suit for an interview?

    Unless you work in finance, law or etc, would you hold it against an applicant in an interview if they wore a well tailored sportcoat/shirt/tie with well fitting chinos/trousers and nice shoes vs the traditional conservative navy/charcoal suit?

  • #2

    I'd say suit is less important than a generally conservative outfit. Sure, you might look nice, but if you come in with hipster clothes or high-water pants, you'd probably make a bad impression.

    And whoa! When I tilt my screen, the suit goes from just charcoal (dotted black) to glen plaid. So cool! (Though I guess that means my screen is bad)


    • #3

      @thmage, my monitor does that as well, so it's likely not a defect on your end, lol.

      Vis-a-vis the topic, as always it depends on the industry and the dress standards of the company as to how much that kind of thing matters. BUT, caveats aside, if I'd never met the applicant and he walked in in business casual, I would personally be offended and would not look kindly upon his undue familiarity. This is, of course, assuming that he is applying for a job of some responsibility, not a "flunkie" high school job. When it doubt, be conservative.


      • #4

        No, I wouldn't, but I also wouldn't take that gamble myself. I've just gone through a year of interviewing, and one thing I learned is that you can never know in advance what in particular would make your interviewer cross you off the list (note Kenneth, who wouldn't look kindly someone wearing a nice sport coat and slacks -- you wouldn't know that before walking in the room, but there it is.) But you can do your best to avoid some fairly common pet peeves that your interviewers may have. Unfortunately, for some people it's dressing too casual, and for others, it's dressing too formal. Depending on the line of work, of course, I think it's often better to err on the formal side than the informal, because the people who care enough to cross you off the list for how you're dressed tend to be, well, like Kenneth. They are themselves more formal in appearance. People on the other side of the aisle most likely wouldn't count you out for your wardrobe, because they're more laid-back in general about how they dress. So they'll probably be more laid-back about how you dress, and they might even think you are taking the interview seriously, albeit overdressed. Does that make sense?


        • #5

          I'm not sold on a strictly old school conservative look, as long as the suit you wear is well tailored and isn't too over the top. I happen to like colorful socks, so I'll wear a pair...but balanced with a grey/dark suit and relatively neutral dress shirt.


          • #6

            Assuming we're talking about a professional / white collar type of job, you should consider a suit a must. Any less, and you run the risk of someone marking it as a negative against you.

            I've done my share of interviewing others, and chinos with a sport coat would make me think the job wasn't important to the applicant.

            I know there are others in my department (engineering) who are more critical. At a company I used to work for, we had someone show up for an interview (engineering job) dressed in the "casual job interview attire" and as soon as he left, my boss at the time said "I'm not going to hire someone who doesn't even put on a suit for an interview". The job itself only required jeans and polos as day to day attire.

            As for how conservative the suit needs to be, this is less important. Interviewers remember if you look sloppy, but generally not what color your suit was. The exceptions being obvious.

            So, consider a suit mandatory for a professional job. Maybe there is a company out there where it ISN'T, but why risk it?


            • #7

              Did anyone catch the "jacket sleeve should not extent past knuckles" advice on the picture on the left? Knuckles? Last time I checked, knuckles are those things at the base of your fingers. I'd certainly hope no one would wear a sleeve that extended past the knuckles!


              • #8
                Why take the chance?


                • #9
                  If you want the job, why not make the effort to put on a suit? It's not that difficult.


                  • #10
                    The thing is, in an interview, "well fitting" doesn't mean much. A guy in perfectly fitting sport coat and chinos is still less formal than a guy in an off the rack suit from JC Penny that's too boxy and has shoulder divots. Yeah, sure you probably put more effort into your wardrobe than he did, but it's the wrong effort.


                    • #11
                      There are plenty of scenarios where you can get away with this but you'd have to be able to predict them (you know someone who works there, you know the company well, etc...) If you don't know the company or the interviewer well enough to know with certainty, it's not worth the gamble. Is it a matter of not owning a suit and being able to afford one for a single interview? If not, if the point is to say, "I can still look sharp without wearing a suit", you're doing the exact opposite of what you should be doing - you should be focusing attention on why you're a great fit for the position, not on how well you can dress yourself.


                      • #12
                        I work in legal recruiting, so I am regularly advising candidates on how to dress for interviews. Conservative suit is the correct call for any law firm (even the casual ones) and most in-house jobs too. But we work with a decent number of startups, and for those you generally do not want to wear a conservative suit. I advise candidates to dress down a bit for those interviews because it shows they understand the culture of the company. So sportcoat and slacks or suit w/o a tie. This may be specific to lawyer interviews, where part of what the lawyers want to convey is that they are not some stuffy lawyer who will just be a roadblock to innovation.


                        • #13
                          it is incredible how casual the world has gotten but to be honest, i feel like that is a separator for us. I am not saying you have to go stuffy suit, but depending on the position you may. Financial - yes. IT, casual workplace - less stuffy.


                          • #14
                            I think the rule for an interview is for politeness's sake, dress a little bit better than your interviewer will.

                            research the company a little if you can. it's very easy these days.

                            i usually dress a lot nicer than everyone for everything and it puts people off. I'm on the "i dont care about that at all" boat for this generally, but for an interview it's just not the right thing.

                            You want to do anything you can to try to fit in, be nice, and be as agreeable as possible.


                            • #15
                              Personally, no. Who cares?

                              In general, I would suggest speaking with them and asking. I can't think of a job where guessing is better form than asking questions and taking notes.