Fog Creek Software
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Dressing up for job interviews

hello everyone,

i am getting ready to look for a shiny new job (been here way too long).

it has been years and years since my last job interview, what is the messageboard's opinion with regard to appearance when looking for a software job. is it still about looking weird and awkward in a suit and tie (at least until you get the gig), or are we turning up a bit more smart/casual nowadays. (assuming the job is not customer facing, and no indication of dress-code provided)

i'm guessing i'm not going to get away with camo's and a CCCP hockey shirt :), but any pointers greatly appreciated

thanks,

Look@Me
Friday, November 14, 2003

A big part of job interviews is not screwing up.

Not wearing a suit when one is expected is a potential screw up, so maximize your chances by wearing one. 

You'll have plenty of other chances to screw up.

Professional Job Hunter
Friday, November 14, 2003

Dress like a pimp.  Big fur coat, lots of bling.  Call the new boss "Daddy".  You're there.

hoser
Friday, November 14, 2003

Depends on the job if you can dress quirky or artistic. But on any development job interview, you're safe visiting Brooks Blothers and getting fitted for a decent white dress shirt and a good pair of wool trousers. A colorful tie and hip glasses, brightly colored socks and/or suspenders are all options, but in general be more restrained than in previous years. Don't do the sandals and tee shirt look. You can dress that way when you start working there - just not during the interview.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

-- Dress like a pimp.

Bring some ho's along too!

Offer to have them strip for your new boss.

Threaten his family if he doesn't hire you.

Brilliant!

Iceberg Slim Shady
Friday, November 14, 2003

>> "You can dress that way when you start working there - just not during the interview."

Not exactly true.... depending on the type of company "they" are.


Friday, November 14, 2003

Think of it as a wedding. This is not how you are going to dress for the rest of your life and your spouse knows it, but you do want to stay with tradition and dress nicely. It is telling the potential employer that you respect this opportunity and have made an effort for it.

(ps. don't wear a tux)

m
Friday, November 14, 2003

If in doubt, overdress.

BUT ... you can ask your contact specifically, or call the HR department, or take the opportunity when you scope out  the place you're interviewing in advance (nothing like getting lost on the way to an interview) to check out what everyone's wearing.

Once upon a time I was interviewing for a contract with a little company run by billg in Redmond, WA, and I asked the contract admin whether a full suit or just a sports jacket and tie, since MS had a reputation for being casual. 

She was _adamant_ that I not wear anything more formal than chinos and a collared shirt: she was right.  I was almost overdressed as it was, and after I'd been there a while, I realized that anyone in as much as a tie was obviously a newbie outsider who didn't understand how MS worked.  It wouldn't prevent someone from getting hired, but it marked one as an "outsider".

But, to reiterate -- if in doubt, dress better.

Mongo
Friday, November 14, 2003

I forgot: the other possibility is that if you're wearing a tie at MS, you might be -- shudder, cringe -- a sales weasel ...

Mongo
Friday, November 14, 2003

Wear a suit. HR will tell you "business casual" - wear a suit anyway.

Now the kicker - if you don't have a suit and you're going shopping, you get to buy two suits. Why?

"I really like your background and experience. Can you come back and meet with the CEO tomorrow?"

Philo

Philo
Friday, November 14, 2003

I've considered dressing down for interviews as a filtering mechanism.  I really don't want to work for someone who puts attire above technical ability during the hiring process so, in theory, not wearing a suit helps the bad employers filter themselves out for you. 

I can just imagine the discussion between interviewers afterward to determine if you'll be hired:

"The guy is a genius!  He correctly answered every C++, Java, .NET, SQL, Windows, and Unix question we threw at him!  For kicks, we asked him to code a solution to a problem we've been working on for months and in less than five minutes he came up with something that blew our work away!" 

"Yeah, but no suit?  Next."

I think people focus too much on getting *a* job rather than getting *the* job.  Dressing up will certainly help you get *a* job.  Personally, I'd rather get *the* job where the hiring process isn't so arbitrary (remember that your coworkers will be selected through that same process). 

That said, I've worn a suit to every interview I've ever gone to : )

SomeBody
Friday, November 14, 2003

SomeBody - sounds like that post would work real well back in mid 2001. In this economy, I'll stick to asking question of my potential employer and not try out your test, though will file it away for the next boom. :)

m
Friday, November 14, 2003

Here's how it works. Are you a low level coder about to be outsourced or are you a smart guy who understands the biz and gets things done and generates leverage? The smart guy developer has to meet with clients from time to time and talk that annoying practical biz stuff like requirements. Sometimes this means wearing a suit, sometimes it means dressing very nicely in business casual. The vampire look, heavy use of tatoos, and gfood in beard with sandals and halitosis just don't work for these face to face encounters. It's not for the uptight boss, but for the client. The d00d who is 2 kewl to wear a suit for a freaking interview for goodness' sake is also going to not have the sense to dress appropriately when meeting with clients. When I play the man, I don't care how d00d dresses on days he's developing, but on the days when there are meetings and so forth, he should have the sense to dress without me even having to buy him a vowel.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, November 14, 2003

someBody: nicely said.

Not to hijack the thread, but what do you guys think about us youngin's like myself?  The current company I work at is *very* casual, but if I was interviewing somewhere a little nicer, I think it would look silly for someone 21 to wear a suit and tie.  People my age just don't dress like that.  I know a decent ammount of software developers that are around my age, either in college or working full time, and none of them wear suits. 

Vince
Friday, November 14, 2003

For younger guys not interviewing at an investment bank, I agree that a suit looks ridiculous.

I've never had a problem with nouveau preppy (also known as maturing hipster).

A dress shirt, no tie. A tailored sports coat, and either jeans or dress pants depending on if you are applying to google or to a bank. Some of those new fangled "futuristic retro" dress shoes. Pay the stylist girl at some boutique to kit you out. It will cost between $500-$1000, and you can continue wearing the same stuff to work on a daily basis, rather than the suit, which you will typically closet until the next wedding or funeral.

another pseudonym
Friday, November 14, 2003

It's the low-level coders that wear the suits. People being hired for expertise aren't assessed on such things, even if a suit might be required for the job. For example, a VC hiring a top MBA knows the MBA can put on a suit if he has to.

Also, this idea that wearing a suit denotes a superior ability to relate to people and gather requirements - my goodness, no wonder you guys are getting outsourced. The experts in human to humna interaction, such as journalists and writers, DON'T generally wear suits.

.
Friday, November 14, 2003

I'm 21, still in university, and I've worn a suit to every interview I've had with software companies.

Being as young as I am, I feel it's best to wear the suit and perhaps outshine the person with the same qualifications who goes to the interview in chinos and a polo top.

R
Friday, November 14, 2003


It's not about dressing up in a suit every day. The analogy to a wedding was a good one.

Most people I know look better and more professional in a good suit and it doesn't matter if they are only 21.

If you are in college/poor don't worry too much about buying a 2nd suit. But do buy 2 ties that look different. It's almost as good.

I think it's ridiculous when I see people trying to "dress up" without the suit. Especially if it's the jeans and tailored sport coat look.

What is this $500-$1000 boutique deal? Are you talking about a whole wardrobe?

NathanJ
Friday, November 14, 2003

"For younger guys not interviewing at an investment bank, I agree that a suit looks ridiculous. "

Then I'd say they bought the wrong suit.

"Some of those new fangled "futuristic retro" dress shoes."

Yech.  I hope I'm not thinking of the ones you're thinking of. :)

A good suit looks good, period.  I suppose the trick could be realizing that a good suit for somebody else isn't a good suit for you.

Anyway, I graduated when I was 21, and have worn a suit to every professional (development) interview I've had.

Which is 2.

And I was hired at them both.

Dignified
Friday, November 14, 2003

Depends on the company.

The last job interview I went to,  I knew enough about the company going in to know that they had a very casual environment with no real dress code.  Knowing this, I didn't fret about running out to buy dressy new clothes that I would never wear by choice and instead just showed up wearing the same old sneakers, jeans and casual un-tucked button-down that I would wear any other day.

Due to some scheduling confusion in HR, two other candidates showed up at the same time I did to interview for the SAME JOB.  The other two people were totally overdressed -  suit, tie, leather-bound portfolios, the whole shebang -  and looked stiff and uncomfortable, possibly because of it.


Anyway, we all interviewed separately, and in the end, I ended up getting the job.  While it is hopefully true that I was offered the position because I was the most qualified, the point of the story is that I wasn't passed over because of the way I was dressed...

(The funny part is that in the end, I didn't even end up taking the job because my current employer made me a counter offer that I couldn't refuse...but it was still a good learning experience and confidence-builder.)

Tim Lara
Friday, November 14, 2003

It's hard to imagine someone not getting a job because they wore a suit to an interview.

It's not hard to imagine someone not getting a job because they didn't wear a suit to an interview.

Pretty friggin' simple choice to me.

Yeah, yeah. I know you. You want them to judge you on your coding abilities, not your fashion sense. Yada yada. Well, it's a cold-cruel world out there and not everyone makes logical, rational decisions. Even good companies have HR drones that might lose your resume because he didn't like the fact you weren't wearing a suit.

Bottom line: It's really a no-brainer. If you're interviewing for a professional position then wear a suit to the interview.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, November 14, 2003

I've never given creedence to approriate attire in making a hiring decision.  So if you to were to interview here,  I wouldn't care as long as you were neat and orderly.

But not everybody is like that.  It's kinda a risk you take.  I've opted not to take it and things worked out OK.

The trick, I think, is you want to have a *good* suit, not a hand-me-down from your father or a cheap one.  It should fit you well, be comfortable, and be stylish.  There's a right kind of stylish that works out for the under-30 set that makes you look smart, neat, and orderly.

It is, of course, possible to wear something nice that isn't strictly a traditional suit but looks smart and professional.  Depends on your sense of style.

The odd thing I've noticed is that when I interview somebody, I make sure to pick out clothing that is a little nicer than I usually wear at work.  So it kinda goes both ways.

Flamebait Sr.
Friday, November 14, 2003

i always wear barefoot with a torn shirt that i have placed some pretty large safety pits through, also sometimes there is a safety pin through my nose because it looks good with my facial tatoos and posts

shit if they can't see past what i look like and hire me 4 my skills then fuck them man. i can do that business meeting with client shit too man and no one can tell me i can't they're only hurting themselves if they cant see past all this and hire me because I am THE BEST

Master Slam Pin
Friday, November 14, 2003

I remember this a good piece of advice. Most interviewers will assume that what you wear to an interview is as good as you'll ever dress.

tk
Friday, November 14, 2003

Wearing a suit is a sign of respect. I think at the very least it shows you put some effort into the interview. 

I guess if you would feel comfortable wearing jeans and sneakers to a funeral, then you could wear them to an interview, but I would feel weird.

Bill
Friday, November 14, 2003

I guess I agree with the suit people in the end. It is hard to look bad in a _good_ suit. It is easy to look bad in a cheap suit, though. So if you are getting a suit, get a good one.

That said, I've never worn a suit to a job interview, or to work. I've never been not hired at a job I interviewed for. I wear pretty much what I described above, on a daily basis.

The dress shirt, sportcoat, hipster shoes thing does have the potential to look bad, which is why I just paid someone at a store to help me pick out some clothes. And yes, I do spend $500-$1000 on a sport coat, 5 dress shirts, and a pair of shoes every year. But then again, I don't drive, or have an excessive video game or gadget habit. 

another pseudonym
Friday, November 14, 2003

From personal experience:

Do *not* wear a jacket and tie to an interview with a game company. Suits are right out.

Chris Tavares
Friday, November 14, 2003

I tihnk everyone is in agreement that looking nice and dressier then usual is good.  Sounds like I should definatly have at the very least a snazzy sports coat, and possibly a nice suit.  ( I really don't like wearing ties though, and I think it would just look silly for me to wear one).   

Vince
Friday, November 14, 2003

Nobody here has addressed the basic reason for wearing a suit to an interview.

Joel pointed it out rather well. You want to hire someone who "gets stuff done." In the package of reasons you hire a someone, competence is a big one. Someone who wears a suit shows that they are willing to do the job. Someone who doesn't wear a suit shows that they won't even dress the part in an interview.

If you can't get someone to buy the right outfit, how do you expect them to handle important projects?

If you're still confused, buy John T. Molloy's "Dress for Success." John T. Molloy was someone who dressed people for a living, and not by going on Oprah and making general statements, but my dressing people in different colored ties and having them approach a door at the same time as unsuspecting victims, and seeing which color tie caused the other person to let the other person go first more often.

His biggest clients were law firms that wanted to know how different styles of dress affected different demographics so they could dress in a way that their jury would like and/or be intimidated by, depending on the kind of case they were building.

Heck, even if you're not confused, buy Dress for Success. I can't look at someone on TV in a suit now without wondering what they want their suit to say about them. For example, blue suits appeal to the lower and working class. As John T. Molloy said in the book, working class people own one suit, it's blue, and they wear it to weddings and funerals. So I wonder, when George Bush wears a blue suit, if he's trying to appeal to working class America.

As an aside, I'd thought John Molloy was dead because I looked up the address he gave in the book for his office and he wasn't there anymore, but he just came out with a new book "Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others: The Fascinating Research That Can Land You the Husband of Your Dreams."

Those of you who think this is out of line with his previous work, it's not, it's still research into how different variables affect people.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0446385522

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, November 14, 2003

"For example, a VC hiring a top MBA knows the MBA can put on a suit if he has to."

Not a VC with intelligence and experience.

To many interviewers, not wearing a suit says "I don't care enough about this job to bother dressing for it" - it's akin to being late or staring at your watch during the interview.

Also remember that often, especially in any company larger than 30-40, you may or may not be interviewed by your prospective boss. So when you say "I don't want to work for someone who judges me by the way I dress" you're saying that you don't want to work for anyone at Microsoft or Nintendo when the guy they grabbed for your interview happens to be Mr. "No suit, no job"

Philo

Phi1o
Friday, November 14, 2003

Erm... do some research? Mr Tavares has a good example of where you may go wrong by picking something based on a guess or others' advice.

If you are a 3d modeller, you can probably go to a games interview with a suit and tie and not be looked at askance. It implies you worked for some serious place previously; that's ok, it's just more 3ds max or Maya.

If you are a programmer, you should not go to a games company with a suit and tie. It implies you worked for some serious place previously. Most of the time, that means Visual BASIC, or RPG (no, not Everquest), or some other skill rather ill-suited to games programming.

(If I were interviewing a suited and tied programmer for a games job, I'd be concerned about their technical competency, and would drag out my ugliest low-level questions. (I'd reuse ones I was asked at one of my interviews actually, they were pretty good :))

Wherever you go, inappropriate dress implies lack of research. Suit and tie is a reasonable default for most places, but I'd be concerned about why you don't know for sure.

Insert half smiley here.
Friday, November 14, 2003

i don' tthink there are many places where 3d modellers wear suits and ties.

3d
Friday, November 14, 2003

Indeed, probably not! I'll quiz the guys next time I see them. I got the impression they used to go and visit clients to give presentations or look around (etc., I've no idea what they did day to day!), which to me implies wearing a suit.

(If I went for an interview for a job that involved talking to people who were paying my employer for my expertise, but who weren't working in my particular field, I would for sure wear a suit. So I kind of assumed... :)

Insert half smiley here.
Friday, November 14, 2003

D'oh, the interview point isn't germane, but the visiting clients bit is. So ignore the second paragraph.

Insert half smiley here.
Friday, November 14, 2003

I interviewed at a large DotCom back in late 2001 for a DBA position.  They flew me out from across the country and put me up in a nice hotel.  Unfortunately, my suit got lost on the flight (I've since learned to put it on a carry-on), and so all I had was the business-casual outfits I planned on wearing for the weekend (I got there Thursday night and flew back out on Sunday).

I didn't get the job, although I can't think it was due to the lack of a suit (I was definitely not as qualified as other applicants).  I met with many people in engineering – all of whom were wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  I met with the VP of Engineering and he, too, was wearing jeans, dockers (with no socks) and a polo shirt.  I felt entirely too overdressed in my business casual!  So it definitely depends on the company.

MR
Friday, November 14, 2003

Dress well, but not too well.

Here endeth the lesson.

Alyosha`
Friday, November 14, 2003

dress like p diddy; and every now and then throw 'yo all' act hip and take bunch of skantily clothed chiXXX who understand .NET and lap dancing.

yoyomama
Friday, November 14, 2003

Dude. Fuckin' too right. My last interview, I took in a fat blunt, and I was, like, "dude", and the interviewer was, like, "dude". Man, we was, like, fuckin' chillin'! The dude, man, he was, fuckin', just like, "dude!", and I was like, fuckin', "dude!". Dude, man, it was, like, the craziest fuck'n shit. I was like, "dude!"... and he was, like, "dude"! Then this other dude comes in. Like, he was, like, "dude".... and I was, like, "yeah", and he, was like, "yeah"... fuck!< man, it was, like, crazy. Fuck man. Then, hey, this other dude comes in. "Fuck, dude...." he says. Like, I'm all like, fuck'n, "hey", and he's, like, "yeah", and we're all, like, "dude".

Dude, foreal, it was, like, tha craziest shit.

We all smoked a fat blunt. Then, like, some fat skank hos came on. Proper bitches, dude! And we  were all, like, "dude!", and they were like, yeah, shit man! We alls was, like, there. Dude, it was fuck'n crazy.

I got the job.

Insert half smiley here.
Friday, November 14, 2003

I should add that due to smoking regulations I am forced to smoke my blunts outside.

Insert half smiley here.
Friday, November 14, 2003

Insert half smiley here:

let me know if there's any job opp there? should be fricking fascinating eh?

yoyomama
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Unless it's a business or financial firm, or a consultancy that deals with them, a suit seems like overkill.

The danger is that you will be better dressed than the guy who's interviewing you and thus cause unconscious negatve vibes.

Also if you've never worn a suit before you may well foul up buying one, and could easily look uncomfortable. In the UK barristers have a shark's instinct for homing in on villains sitting uncomfortable and sweaty in new suits too tight for them.

I'd say a sports jacket, a dress shirt and either slacks or chinos. If you're wearing chinos wear dockers or suede shoes, and if you're wearing slacks wear leather shoes (but remember to wear them in for a few days). Don't wear jeans.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"To many interviewers, not wearing a suit says "I don't care enough about this job to bother dressing for it" - it's akin to being late or staring at your watch during the interview."

Well, when I've done interviews, my general impression is that wearing a suit is better than not. 

It's not that I think that "no suit means you're not serious."  That's a fairly obtuse judgement.

I just think a suit reflects an attitude that, generally speaking, development is a social profession.  A job interview is a sales task, for the most part.  And in some ways, depending on where you work, so is your position.  You're often selling your ideas to management, for instance, and to your teammates.

Imaginably, many people who do not wear suits are quite serious programmers.  But being a serious technical person is really not quite enough, because in most jobs, you won't deal entirely with technical issues.

Just being cognizant of the fact that an interview is a sales position, and that you're basically selling your skills for several hundred thousand dollars, is generally a good sign.  It shows social aptitude.

Now, I realize that many people wear suits because it's the orthodox thing to do, or they were raised that way.  I wouldn't hire or not hire based on the suit.  But it's still a good sign.

it_ranter
Saturday, November 15, 2003

i also saw the p.diddy television program about his $500,000 personal trainer and i'm going to inquire at bad boy recordings whether or not they need any IT personel. I think i'll be wearing my pinky ring for this particular interview.

snackwell
Saturday, November 15, 2003

I just interviewed 20 coders just out of UNI, 19 of them wore suits (or for the ladies a business "suit/skirt" deal) - one wore a tracksuit jacket and business trousers and a business shirt with no tie.

Which one did we pick...Thats right - tracksuit man, and it was because he showed the most interest in all parts of the interview process, he had a cover letter that related to the job description we put out, he spoke enthusiastically about computers and his UNI projects - the rest had cover letters like "here is my resume, call me". In the end he has ended up being the best developer we have ever had in our company.

ChrisO
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"Do *not* wear a jacket and tie to an interview with a game company. Suits are right out. "

Ok, I'll agree that is probably one of the rare exceptions. I've got friends in that industry, and yeah, a suit is likely to be a liability.

Mark Hoffman
Saturday, November 15, 2003

ChrisO - would you have *not* hired him if he'd worn a suit? If any of the other 19 hadn't been such complete losers, would you have been a little more inclined to pick someone in a suit rather than a track suit?

BTW, bravo on hiring substance instead of form, but I think we all realize that sadly, you may be the exception instead of the norm. ;-)

Philo

Phi1o
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Wear the suit.    Interview or not, everyone should own a dark blue or grey suit (100% wool and costs $300+), a solid white shirt, and a red tie.  No paisley.  Wear it to your interviews.  Wear a blue tie to the 2nd interview.  Wear comfortable shoes with RUBBER soles, so you don't feel like a dick sliding around the lobby floor, with your fingertips tingling b/c you're about to faceplant.

Also, if you're a grown adult (25+), it's time you should feel COMFORTABLE in a suit.  (Thereby making your original post MOOT)    If you don't, put on the above suit, and go get totally drunk w/ your friends, or do something totally casual, like going to a dive resaurant.  This will break the association you have with wearing a suit and attending formal events (weddings, funerals, and shitty parties), ie:  never feeling comfortable in a suit.

Also, get a collar size 1/2 larger than the guy measures you for.  There's nothing less relaxing than being CHOCKED by a collar.

Bella
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Ahem,  choked.

Bella
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Don't try to "half dress up"
You'll just end up looking like a douchebag.

If shorts/sandals are not appropriate then wear a suit.

Bella
Saturday, November 15, 2003

$300 suit
$100 shoes
$25 shirt
$20 tie
$5 black socks
$2 undershirt
Total cost:  $452

A nice picture of you in a suit (for your mother):  Priceless (to her)

Bella
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"Wear comfortable shoes with RUBBER soles"

How the heck do you keep from squeaking when it's wet outside?

(and if you want to talk about sliding, let's talk about leather soles on "hey look it rained last night [step step] OMIGODITSFROZENANDIMHEADINGFORTHESTREET")

Philo

Philo.
Saturday, November 15, 2003

And wear a nice watch.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, November 15, 2003

How about some nose piercing?

yoyomama
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Okay, not that I'm a skeptic or anything, but ... ChrisO first says, "I just interviewed 20 coders...."

Then he says, "he has ended up being the best developer we ever had...."

Exactly how long did he work there before you decided he was the best?

Zahid
Sunday, November 16, 2003

Philo - No I wouldn't have *not* hired him if he did wear a suit, I had virtually picked him before I had even seen him in the flesh (i.e. phone interview, cover letter etc). - to me appearance comes down to just tidyness, so a t-shirt held together with safety pins wouldn't cut it, but a clean tracksuit jacket is fine.

Zahid - Maybe replace "just interviewed" with "nearly 3 months ago" and "is the best coder" with "looking like becoming one of our best", sorry I was in a hurry and I also noticed how my post may have seemed a bit strange (i.e. you all might have though what a bunch of losers the rest must be if a fresh grad is better than them all ;))

ChrisO
Sunday, November 16, 2003

Somebody has to say it: how you dress for an interview is one factor among many.  We've had lots of extreme examples (no suit, great skillz vs great suit, no skillz), which tell you nothing. 

Look at it this way: you're one of two choices, and other things being equal (experience, qualifications, getting along with the interviewer), it's probably the better dressed person who'll get the offer.  Not "most expensively" dressed, not "most dressed up", but "best dressed", meaning that it's a good quality outfit that fits correctly, in which you look comfortable and natural--in which case, there's no such thing as overdressed.  Someone who shows up in a great suit to a business casual place, and looks natural in it, will just look better than someone in business casual, and that may be what tips the scale in your favor when nothing else will.

I'd second the tip to ask before the interview what dress is appropriate.  The person you ask will probably be impressed that you went to the effort to find out and get it right.  "May I ask what would be appropriate to wear to the interview?  I normally wear a suit, but I know a lot of companies are business casual these days..."

Justin Johnson
Sunday, November 16, 2003

Bella's advertising for Mastercard:-)

Prakash S
Sunday, November 16, 2003

Way back in a previous economy, my company hired people and I conducted lots of interviews.  If any candidates asked, we always told them there was no need for a suit, that we dress casual (in fact, I didn't wear a suit for either of my two interviews).

Anyway, quite frequently people showed up in suits anyway.  Lots of bad suits on nervous geeks.  That was never a negative on them, just funny to the interviewer.

HOWEVER, I distinctly remember one candidate who came in in a very nice suit.  He looked great, was very personable and really wowed us.  Maybe it helped that he had one of those deep radio voices.  Anyway, I confidently hired him and it turned out that he sucked as a developer.

The moral?  The good suit probably was a factor in his snowing me, and I'm the guy who was by far the most critical of our candidates.

David
Monday, November 17, 2003

"The moral?  The good suit probably was a factor in his snowing me, and I'm the guy who was by far the most critical of our candidates. "

Perhaps the moral should be that you shouldn't be interviewing candidates if a well-dressed interviewee can distract you from accurately gauging their technical skills.

No?

Not Me
Monday, November 17, 2003

Go naked, and tell them straight of the bat they can put you in whatever they feel is appropriate for the position.
If that doesn't scream "I need this job" I don't know what will.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, November 17, 2003

I am in sales but am applying for a senior C++ developer position. Do you guys think if i wore a $1200 Armani, I'd be able to snatch the opportunity. All I know is that C++ is a good thing, that's all.

o'my
Monday, November 17, 2003

"Perhaps the moral should be that you shouldn't be interviewing candidates if a well-dressed interviewee can distract you from accurately gauging their technical skills."

Perhaps you can share your fool-proof method for accurately gauging technical skills in an interview.  I'm sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the candidate's demeanor, appearance, confidence or behavior.

Like I said, his dress was A factor.  If he hadn't also had a great resume and a solid interview, it wouldn't have mattered.

David
Monday, November 17, 2003

The conventional wisdom is "dress as if you already had the job". But that's impossible because, until you actually get a look at the workplace, you cannot be expected to know exactly how people dress there.

Therefore, for a first interview, I would always wear a suit, or a dress and jacket. It's the default level of formality for the situation. I would do this unless I had some information that made me very sure I should do otherwise.

Since it's a well-known convention that a suit is the default for an interview, I would not expect to be penalized for wearing one in that situation, any more than I would expect to be penalized for wearing a swimsuit at the beach. If I were, then they would be making my clothes more important than my skills, which we are all agreed is out of line.

I also wouldn't dig my heels in at the expectation that I wear a suit for an interview. My clothes are not so overidentified with my self that it hurts me to change my social costume for a couple of hours.

Conversely, if I were interviewing someone and they turned up in a non-suit, I would wonder why. Perhaps they were simply making a judgement call about the appropriateness of a suit. Perhaps they were making a statement about their competence and subtly challenging me to see the "real them". Perhaps they were making a statement about the extent willingness to defer in matters that they considered superficial or unimportant (although such statements inevitably suggest to me that the wearer believes the opposite of what they say). But I think I would prefer that they show up in a suit, so that I could free myself to consider their abilities to the fullest extent possible, without being distracted by the possible meanings of their choice of clothing.

If I had real doubts, I'd do as Justin Johnson suggested, and ask *them* what I should wear to the interview. If the situation's that unclear, they'll likely be aware of it themselves, and not mind that you ask. But in most cases, I don't experience that level of doubt.

Fernanda Stickpot
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

"the extent willingness"

... that should have read "the extent of their willingness"

Fernanda Stickpot
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Wear a suit and tie. The trendy "look like a slob because geniuses don't care about how they look" attitude is over.  Also, the goofy comment above about "nouveau preppy" is ridiculous. The nineties really are over, and the days of barefoot CEOs on the cover of Fortune are over, too.

To the folks who are obsessed with dressing like slobs - if you really can't stand wearing a suit because you have to be "free" and it's all too much for you to dress like a man instead of a boy, then forget about a job and go meditate under a tree.

Ken Wells
Saturday, February 21, 2004

I didn't notice the comment from David who used to interview "nervous geeks" in suits, and who thought it was funny to laugh at job seekers. Are you still in HR?

Ken Wells
Saturday, February 21, 2004

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