It’s a debate that still rages in candidate circles: Is it okay to dress casually when the company culture is understood to dress casual? Does it make me look bad if I’m overdressed? Can I get away without wearing a tie to my interview?
Proper interview attire is hard. In some fields like IT, it seems like it should be okay to be quirky and wear a pair of khakis and a button-down. But is it really okay?
What Not to Wear
The phone screenings are over and you’re getting ready for an in-person Zoom or, perhaps, when things return to normal, a face-to-face interview. Here’s where things get tricky. You’ve done your research and developed a list of questions. You’ve practiced your answers for some of the most common interview questions. But you’re stuck on what is perhaps an equally important issue: What to wear.
There are, admittedly, a few schools of thought on this. Traditional interviewing requires the pressed professional attire for men and women, right? But now that many companies have gone remote, should you still wear professional attire for an interview that is likely conducted in the homes of the individual hiring team?
Today’s employers, particularly in IT, have relaxed dress codes. Even accounting and engineering, two fields that are admittedly conservative, have “chilled out” and allow pressed dress casual.
Over the past decade, the good old standby blue or black suit has fallen slightly out of favor. We can blame the tech industry for some of this. Anti-corporate cool offices with slides in the lobby, catered meals, and ping-pong in the break rooms led to more casual attire in the office.
But should you take that as a given that wearing something other than that possibly outdated suit to your next interview will still suitably impress your hiring manager?
We suggest that the risk isn’t worth it. A.C.Coy interviews thousands of candidates every quarter for some of the biggest brands in the nation. The truth is that we simply don’t know the clothing preferences of the hiring teams that our candidates interview with. One person on the candidate search committee might be perfectly fine with your polo shirt while the person sitting next to them may find it rude. If you dress up and wear a tie or a professional suit for your next interview (this includes women), will it offend them if you are overdressed?
Our answer is when in doubt, wear the tie every time. Looking your best and feeling your best for the interview will mitigate any risk that dressing more casually may cost you the job by leaving the interviewer with the impression that you are anything less than professional. Go with the old school approach and consider:
- For men, a suit and tie. Make sure your shirt is pressed, and your shoes are shined.
- For women, a suit, or skirt/blazer combination.
Muted professional colors are good and skip the flashy jewelry. It’s okay to wear the Hawaiian shirt after you’ve made it on board. With all these tips in hand, it’s also a good idea to check in with your recruiter about what kind of interview environment you’re stepping into. Who are the players in the (virtual) room? You can look them up online to see what they’re like, but also, when in doubt, just ask your recruiter.
A.C.Coy recruiters are some of the most experienced in the field of IT, accounting, finance, engineering, and sales. We’ve worked with thousands of professionals in these fields. Talk with our team today about the opportunities in your area. We can offer you a confidential phone screen and resume review to give you a leg up in today’s competitive market. Call us today! 724-820-1820