Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog

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Dressing Up for the Casual Interview

suit and tie1 The old adage “Dress for Success” has been around a long time.  Recently, I was curious to see what my colleagues would say about dressing up for interviews where the dress code is very casual.  I’ve always felt you can’t overdress, although you might want to leave the cuff links at home.  My fellow colleagues from all over the blog world agree.

Dan Nuroo, from Melbourne, Australia, commented “it is better to overdress than take a chance… you can always take the tie and jacket off in the interview, if the “feel” is right (maybe could work in your favour to ask them if they are comfortable with the tie removal if you feel over dressed once there).”  He went on to say, “I would suggest going the conservative approach at first.  Why give anyone an option or excuse to say “no”, if you think something like that could be an issue… take it out of the equation.”  Dan Goyeneche of North Brunswick, NJ agreed by saying, “You can always take the tie off. It’s got to be better that being the only one in the room without one.”

Gino Conti, a corporate recruiter for Nissan North America in Farmington Hills, Michigan also agreed.  He shared, “In my opinion a suit and tie is interview attire….even if their environment is more casual, it will probably not be a shock to see you dressed up for the meeting.”  I had asked about men wearing their earrings to such an environment, and Gino add, “Regarding the earrings I would definitely leave them out for the interview process. Even though it is pretty socially appropriate for men to have them, many places do not allow them at work. If after interviewing and landing the job you find it is ok to have them, by all means put them back in.”  He summarized his thoughts quite well by saying the test is really quite simple for the interview. If you think there is a chance your appearance could be controversial at all, don’t do it. If you’re the right person for the job, being dressed (or decorated) inappropriately would be a terrible way to miss out on the opportunity!

LIsa DeAngelo from Cleveland was pretty adamant about the earrings.  She said, “I will stress No Earrings unless you are applying for a job at Piercing Pagoda. That’s a no brainer.”

So it looks like the old adage is still true today even after the birth of the dotcoms.  Brent Potter of Ontario sums it up:  “Literally my life motto: It’s better to be overdressed and look like a fool, than to be underdressed and actually be one.”


March 15, 2009 - Posted by | Careers, Interviewing 101, Job Search


  1. […] Dressing Up for the Casual Interview […]

    Pingback by Interviewing is Easy…if Done Right! « Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog | August 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. Ah, you’ve hit my pet interviewing peeve. It is possible to be overdressed for a job interview. I’ve personally sat on hiring committees that decided not to hire people because they wore suits to the interview. The not-hiring hinged on two issues (1) This person would not be a fit for our company (you can tell because they wore a suit to the interview) and (2) This person doesn’t have the brains to do the pre-interview research to find out what to wear. The research everyone agreed would have served was picking up the phone, calling the admin or the HR department and asking what the applicants were expected to wear. In case you’re wondering, in none of the cases in question would taking off a suit jacket or tie have serve; anyone can tell suit pants from other types. It’s a bit harder with skirts. So could we all please stop giving people advice as though it’s applicable in all situations? It isn’t.

    Comment by Katie | November 11, 2009 | Reply

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