How To Dress For The Job Interview

May 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm in Fun, Tech, Work

Some students and friends of mine have been out looking for jobs lately, and as developers, it’s not always clear what you should wear. Dress too nicely and you’ll look like you won’t fit in. Dress too casually and you run the risk of insulting people or appearing that you don’t care enough to dress up for a job interview.

Obviously the first thing you could do is just ask someone who currently works there what you should wear for an interview. Don’t ask directly, but perhaps inquire during the phone screen what the dress code is, and then dress a bit higher than that.

Another great piece of advice I’ve heard is that you should “dress like you’re going on a first date.” I like how that one sounds.

But another thing you could do, which I did, is just turn it over to Twitter. I asked my followers what our peers are wearing to job interviews, and I got some great replies.

Some people really insisted on dressing up for the interview, but “dressing up” had a lot of different meanings.

I wear a modern suit and tie to dev interviews. When I interview devs, I expect them to dress professionally. Dress matters.

joshpuetz

I always wear a suit and tie for everything but a final Manager interview. No one ever got fired for dressing nice.

jasonmotylinski

“business casual” – no tie or jacket, but professional shirt/pants/shoes combo.

jeffcohen

I think last time I did slacks and a polo. Austin is a pretty casual town, though.

benkimball

i wore smart shirt, trousers, and a jumper. i also had a shave and washed… that was quite a step up for me…

Lenary

i did wear a suit and tie to my job interview but realized i was overdressed as all those were in casual…although I don’t think I’d dress casual for another interview… just because I think it would make a better impression not to.

wavded

And some had the opposite feeling:

Whatever they want?!? I’m not sure I’d work somewhere that my style of dress would be a problem.

RobotDeathSquad

I wore a coat and tie … but then the guys told me that jeans probably would have been better. Ugh.

boblmartens

I’ve seen people wearing suits while I wore well, t-shirt and jeans to interviews (this has happened twice) and I got the job.

Seivanheidari

Others said that dressing up made them uncomfortable.

Last set I wore what I would have worn on a regular work day. I feel less credible in a tech interview if I’m wearing a suit.

noelrap

My opinion, the more I need to dress up for an interview, the greater the chance I’ll hate the job.

ethangunderson

Finally, a few suggested it’s important to know your environment.

Depends on the company – dress to their upper bound

dahlbyk

I don’t go on interviews but when I’m going to a client’s office for the first time I always ask what the dress is and adjust

hardbap

Khaki’s, polo or button down and either a sport coat or not, depending on the place.

jwynia

you have to know the culture and ‘dress-code’ of the company before an interview. you don’t want to be too formal or under formal

kblake

i was given advice to dress up a “level” than the dress code at that company.

jonhoman

So, how do you think you should dress for your next interview?

P.S. Thanks to everyone for chiming in!

6 comments

6 Responses to “How To Dress For The Job Interview”

  1. I worked in a programming shop once where the boss said he would “prefer” that we wear ties, but would not require it. I never could figure out why… I worked in a little cubicle in a large, mostly empty office space. Sometimes a week would go by and I would hardly see any other programmers, much less the boss. And I think I saw maybe 1 “client” there, in 2 years.

    I didn’t wear a tie, but nobody else did either.

    I have to be honest anyway and say that I don’t think wearing a piece of cloth tied around your neck makes you look professional. To me, it makes people look like they are just wearing a uniform in order to fit in.

    Women’s fashions come and go, but men have been wearing more or less the same shirts and ties for generations. It’s time we moved on to something else. Even as symbolism, neckties suck.

  2. For my current job there was a three phase interview. Sounds high class, but not really.

    The first phase was an over-the-phone interview. I could have been naked for this, but I actually sat outside, fully clothed. Was a nice day.

    The second phase was that they flew me to Sydney for a day. This involved talking with the development team at a cafe. I went there dressed in jeans and shirt. Stuff I’d wear out in a bar or out shopping.

    The third phase however involved a meeting with the National Director and I was advised to suit up. This involved nice pants and a long-sleeved white shirt but no tie.

    These days I go into work dressed like the second phase. I even sometimes wear my “fork you” shirt and even though it’s not an office of 100% developers, they understand what it means after it’s been explained. The third phase clothing is still hanging in the wardrobe from the day I started my job. Maybe one day I’ll wear it again to “look important”.

  3. I think it would be an interesting addition to know what companies the people who responded are currently working for.

  4. The most “dressed-down” I’ve been at a job interview is dress slacks, a button-down shirt, and a tie. I’ll wear a suit jacket at my discretion (depending on the company and the setting).

    The way I see it, I’m a professional, and I’m going to dress like a professional. I take a job interview seriously, and I like to reinforce that with the way I dress.

    Generally, you won’t be discredited for dressing professionally, though you may be discredited for failing to do so. I’ve had a single job interview during which the interviewer told me I could lose the tie because his company was more interested in what was between my ears than my ability to coordinate a tie. You’ll need to bring your brain along regardless of how you dress.

    Some will argue that they don’t wish to work for a company that will judge them based upon their attire. While fair, researching a company and its associated culture is something that should be done well ahead of the interview.

  5. I’ll have you know that my company is now so laid back that my boss thinks it’s fine to appear wearing socks (but no shoes) to interviews. that’s how we roll!

  6. Here in Boulder (USA) we’ve got a pretty casual environment, but nobody ever got nixed for dressing too nice in an interview. I’ve seen everything from the East-coast banker suit to T-shirt/jeans. As a hiring manager, it’s not even a factor to me.

    When I’ve interviewed for programming jobs, I usually wore khakis or dress slacks and a nice button-down shirt, no tie. It’s middle-of-the-road for this area, neither too fancy for the geeks nor too casual for the managers.

    One thing to note, I’m not afraid to ride my motorcycle to an interview and carry in my riding gear. It’s often helped break the ice and establish friendly conversation.

    -Josh

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