Recently I had a long time reader ask me a question. She was going to a job interview with well known website, whose business is known to be fairly casual. She asked me the following:
Hey, Mr. Interviewtips,
I have an in-person interview at XXXXXXXXXXXX on Thursday. I’m not sure what their dress code is, but I’m guessing it’s pretty casual just based on what I know about the company. So, considering how much I want this job, I thought I’d get a second opinion from someone well-informed on the subject: What should I wear? I’m thinking my usual business suit look is too much, so should I do slacks & a sweater, or even jeans/blazer/heels? Thoughts? 🙂
I’ve written about this topic before. I don’t personally believe it’s a good idea to dress down to an interview. I prefer what I like to call the “stripping” method. I think you should dress as nice as possible, and if you feel you are underdressed you should slowly “strip” in a way (take off the jacket first, maybe roll up your sleeves a bit) and casual yourself up that way. There are several reasons I think this is the right move:
– Very few hiring managers, if any, are going to not give you a job because you’re dressed nice.
– First impressions are still first impressions, and “professional” is never a bad first impression.
– Once you strip down, you’ll still fit in. You can’t strip up into nicer clothes.
– If the place does want to see someone professional, you’re screwed.
There are stories about a company that won’t hire people that show up in a suit, but there are very few of them, and I find it hard to believe. Still, if you’re worried, you can consider your least professional nice clothes and take the jacket off before you even go into the interview, putting your jacket back on if it ends up being more professional.
Well, the reader took my advice and wrote me today, and her response was the following:
I went with your advice, mostly: pin-striped slacks, a black blazer, and a jersey shirt (one step up from a t-shirt, but not a button-down or anything). Considering that I was interviewing at a tech start-up, a buttoned shirt seemed overkill – and pretty generic/forgettable.
Upon walking into the office, I noticed it was a pretty darn casual place – everyone was wearing jeans or skirt/leggings. So in the interim between being shown into the interview room and everyone showing up, I cuffed the sleeves on my blazer (as is a current trend) and unbuttoned it, thus instantly feeling a bit more casual but still a couple steps above the general attire. The “stripping down” idea works, particularly if you plan for it (and I wore a blazer with a fun pin-striped lining with the intention of cuffing the sleeves if that was appropriate).
We’re glad it worked for you, and hopefully it will help you get the job you’ve always wanted. As always, you can contact us if you have any questions, and if we have any idea what the answer is we’ll try to do our best to give thoughts.