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How important is a conservative suit for an interview?

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  • #16
    So many years back I was interviewing for a senior IT job with a tech company. As the position was very senior, I showed up wearing a suit a tie. My standard in all job interview situations. I introduce myself at reception and the guy who is going to interview me shows up wearing...a t-shirt and jeans. We chit chat and the interview starts. All goes well and he introduces me to others on the team. All of them are wearing jeans and a T shirt. I was starting to feel uncomfortable as I stuck out a like a sore thumb. Interview ends.

    I get a second round interview, and I decide to dress down. I wear chinos and a button down and a jacket. Second round of interviews starts with the team and ends up with me meeting the senior management. They are all in suits and ties.

    I did not get the job.

    Did my attire have anything to do with me not getting the job? Hard to say. From that day going forward though, I have always worn a suit and tie to any job interview.


    • #17
      Originally posted by DocDave View Post
      Did my attire have anything to do with me not getting the job? Hard to say. From that day going forward though, I have always worn a suit and tie to any job interview.
      That is quite an unfortunate tale! I'm sure it probably wasn't that. Organizations and hiring processes are so fucking political, convoluted, and petty that I would guarantee it wasn't that. It probably wasn't even you. Maybe they hired the HR head's brother, or closed the position! Maybe someone internal applied for it. Maybe the HR head decided he doesn't like that department! Who even knows! Just get it off your mind, like it didn't even happen. :-D

      in summation, companies are weird places.


      • #18
        If you're going for entry/middle level position in a relatively casual industry, that's fine. If you're looking at executive level, full business suit regardless of industry.


        • #19
          Hey--I'll ask my wife. She's done a lot of interviewing for new hires in her department the last six or eight months. She's in health care regulation, working for a very large health care company, and based on what she's said to me, other than the one middle-aged white dude in her department, they don't put a ton of importance on appearance. Their leading candidate for a lower level management/analyst job was someone she nick-named "My Little Pony" because the woman had pink hair and visible tats. And they lost her to another company that made a better offer.

          So, I'm thinking outside of law (my field) and finance, you might not get not marked down unless you are going for a director level or above.

          Indeed, some people get uncomfortable if you're wearing a tie. I was in arbitration a few years ago and my client asked the arbitrator if the arbitrator would allow the lawyers to dispense with ties. The arbitrator said the only reason he was wearing one was because he knew that I would always wear a tie. So, much to my chagrin, the arbitration proceeded from that point onward without anyone wearing ties.

          Anyways, just my opinion of course, but my decision would be:
          If I were applying for a mid-manager or lower job, outside of law or finance, and I knew the dress code was business casual or less, I would seriously consider a dark blue blazer, gray or charcoal wool dress trousers, a pocket square, light blue dress shirt (probably button down collar--stripes would be okay, but I would not do checks, unless they were subtle), but no tie. I would go with black, medium brown, or oxblood shoes--but not walnut. Derbies, oxfords, or monk straps would all be okay. I'd avoid boots (unless you've got weather issues maybe) and suede. I suppose you could do dark brown, but I just don't like dark brown shoes that much--that's just personal preference.

          Anything higher than mid-management, I'd go with a full-on suit, even if I knew I'd be meeting with people wearing tshirts and jeans.


          • #20
            I’ve interview for multiple teaching positions, where maybe the principal would wear a suit, but jeans and polo is the usual uniform for male teachers, with the occasional school team tshirt, or the occasional college jersey or sweatshirt. I’ve always worn a suit. I’ll try to match the tie to the school colors, but aside from that, it’s as conservative as I can. Even for a job like teaching, where individuality can be worn on your sleeve, (I’m wearing a raptor mask for my Yearbook photo) the conservative dress for an interview can tell the prospective boss a little bit about you. It says “I know how to dress appropriately.” But more importantly it allows your apparel to be ignored. You fit a mold or expectation, and they can then concentrate on what you say.
            My wife interviews many applicants for her Social Work management job, and she’s constantly commenting on what the applicants are wearing. It’s rare someone comes in dressed “nice” in her opinion. Those that do get more consideration for hire

            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


            • #21
              Originally posted by toomoody View Post
              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.
              I'm an IP lawyer, and I purposely dress down when meeting with startup clients, or when pitching to a prospective client with that vibe. What I want to convey is engineer who happens to have a law degree, not lawyer who happens to have an engineering degree.

              Fortune 500? Conservative suit and tie for all meetings. Even just lunch with in-house counsel.


              • #22
                This is context-specific but you can also just ask the recruiter/hiring person what the dress code in the office is.

                I'm an attorney so default to suits for interviews, but I interviewed a few years ago at a giant tech company and the recruiter specifically told me beforehand not to wear a suit and tie (I ended up going with sports coat + trousers, no tie). No reason not to ask.