What is the dress code of IT leadership teams in banking/insurance UK for men?

In my company, one of the largest in the UK, even the CTO wears jeans and a shirt.

What is the case for an IT manager in banking/insurance with no customer exposure?

Would you dress differently for an interview?

Note: I have NEVER worn a suite to an interview and landed the roles no problem. 20+ years in industry as well. I'm just considering the specific case of Insurance/Banking

  • Are you concerned there might be a risk of dressing too formal? Most I know play it safe and dress smart. – user34587 Nov 20 '18 at 12:17
  • @Kozaky actually I would look conspicuous if i dressed in a suit in my current job (very out of place). I would probably wear a suit, no tie if I didn't come from the office. – Koenig Lear Nov 20 '18 at 12:23
  • When you are at an interview it is different from your current job; for an interview you want to look conspicuous. Your appearance should say to everyone who sees you "I am here for business and I am not trying to hide that." That's the advantage of dressing smart. – Brandin Nov 21 '18 at 6:42
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    @Brandin interesting view. My general view with people with suits are, people trying to sell you something, basically someone you shouldn't trust, or students who in the UK wear suits everywhere. My intention would be to look as someone who fits the environment of the target company rather than look conspicuous. – Koenig Lear Nov 21 '18 at 11:03

Never not wear a suit to an interview. It's always better to look too good than not good enough, and physical appearance is the first thing people will see when they look at you.

A quick rule of thumb - if you ever feel the need to ask the question "should I wear a suit", the answer is almost certainly Yes.

Specifically, the banking and insurance sectors tend to be stiff and formal, and everyone wears a suit whether back office or front.

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    Your answer is based on industry-perpetuated misconceptions. In my banking interviewing experience, I have never been expected or required to wear formal attire for a non-customer-facing position. Companies I interviewed for had dress codes, but they were limited to "don't be a stinker" basically. Furthermore, one interviewer for one of the largest banks in my country (in the EU) specifically told me not to wear formal attire as it was looked down by the interviewing team as too pretentious for a team that normally wears jeans, boots and t-shirts. My advice to OP: ask your interviewer. – BoboDarph Nov 20 '18 at 12:31
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    @BoboDarph Your last sentence is an answer. Write it up as such. – Martin Bonner Nov 20 '18 at 12:44
  • The answer above the one I'm currently commenting on already covers this advice. – BoboDarph Nov 20 '18 at 12:50
  • "everyone wears a suit whether back office or front" I've been working around 10 years in the 20 of my careers in banks and insurances (in Belgium) and NEVER wore a suit to work. I was also most of the time surrounded by people not wearing suits neither. I agree that bank and insurances are stiffer than web agencies or startups, but it's really becoming less and less stiff as time goes... – Laurent S. Nov 20 '18 at 13:57
  • sounds reasonable. However to avoid looking suspicious (on the day of the interview) in my current company I won't wear one. – Koenig Lear Nov 20 '18 at 14:31

For an interview you always wear a suit, unless you have an explicit reason not to, reasons maybe this is a job as a gardener, or the person arranging the interview said "don't bother with a suit we are all casual here".

I have worked in UK IT for 20+ years, I have never worn anything other than jeans and jumper to work, but have worn a suit to every interview.

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    I have worked in UK programming for 35+ years. In the first 15 years some of my employers wanted "business casual", but that has gone now (except sometimes when visiting customers). I too have worn a suit to every interview. – Martin Bonner Nov 20 '18 at 12:37
  • true in my first job we had to dress up for customer visits, i had forgotten that. – WendyG Nov 20 '18 at 12:53
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    I've worked in Belgium in IT for 20 years and now refuse to wear a suit even for interviews. If you don't want to hire me just because of this, so be it, there are enough jobs out there – Laurent S. Nov 20 '18 at 13:51
  • @LaurentS. lucky you for living somewhere with so many jobs, my area is not so full of jobs. – WendyG Nov 21 '18 at 11:12

Ask the company. It varies from place to place, and the old rule of "you can't be overdressed for an interview" no longer applies. You can (and will) be turned down for getting it completely wrong in either direction.

Either contact your recruiter and ask them what the regular dress-code is, or ask the person who arranged your interview.

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    @dwizum I've seen people turned down at the small IT companies I work for, with the general comment being "Does not fit with our culture". – Erik Nov 20 '18 at 14:35
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    That does not mean that you were turned down because you over dresssed or under dressed. The point of dressing is well is to make the impression that you are a professional, nothing more. If you overdress, you can easily adjust to the expectations. On the other hand, if you underdress and leave the impression "who cares about what I look like" then of course they will say "does not fit with our culture." – Brandin Nov 21 '18 at 6:36
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    @Erik Well, if you were interviewing someone and decided not to hire him just because he was well dressed, then shame on you. On the other hand, if you decided not to hire him because you felt he would not fit in, then that is the actual reason. Claiming that you didn't hire someone just because he wore a suit is just an excuse you made up because you couldn't easily explain why he wouldn't fit in. – Brandin Nov 21 '18 at 8:51
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    @Brandin except, like I said, he didn't fit in, because he wore a suit to his interview. It means he stuck to outdated rules like "always wear a suit to an interview" and "you can never overdress" instead of just asking the company about their culture and expectations, which is precisely the point of my answer: ask. You can overdress and lose jobs because of it. – Erik Nov 21 '18 at 9:05
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    @WendyG obviously; both sides would be thinking that. That's what interviewing is for, checking if there is mutual interest in working together. – Erik Nov 21 '18 at 12:36

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