5

Recently a wore a suit to an interview at a place with a fairly casual dress code. They joked a little about it--"Uh oh! Are you a tax collector?"--but overall I think they appreciated it (and I ended up getting the job.)

Anyway, this made me wonder could it ever be inappropriate to wear a suit to an interview--as in, could doing so hurt your chances at certain places?

For example what if I was interviewing at a landfill, mine, construction site (or some other place that definitely never would require business dress), and wore a suit. Could it ever be considered a negative?

I'm sure if you go overboard with a tux at a typical interview that may be a negative, but I'm not totally convinced that a suit would ever be fully out of place.

Does anyone think this would be a negative at some company? If so what sorts of places would a suit be over-dressing?

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    I suspect getting a job as a bulldozer driver in a construction company might be a challenge if you show up in a suit. – Dan Pichelman Jul 1 '14 at 20:26
  • One possible rule of thumb -- if the CEO always wears jeans to work, you probably can forget about the suit. – tcrosley Jul 2 '14 at 0:20
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    I'm reminded of an old joke: "Question: How can you recognize an IBM service technician? Answer: When he takes off his jacket, his sleeves are already rolled up." No longer completely accurate, but it makes the point that dress code depends on both what you'll be doing and who you'll be interacting with inside and/or outside the company. Simplest solution: Rather than trying to guess, call up the HR department or whatever administrative staffer or manager is organizing your visit and ASK THEM what would be considered appropriate interviewing garb. Can't go wrong asking. – keshlam Jul 3 '14 at 0:59
  • On a personal training interview it would. – peterPeterson Sep 29 '15 at 14:50
  • I used to interview people for production jobs, and would tell them on the phone that the interview would include a factory tour, so please do NOT wear a suit. Wear appropriate clothes for a working factory. Amazing how many candidates would ignore the instructions, wear a suit, and then be extremely uncomfortable on the tour. It never helped their interview. – Kathy Dec 15 '15 at 23:42
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As someone who grew up in family of tailors and now works in the professional world (as an engineer), I can give a little input here.

I can't imagine a professional office job where wearing a suit to the interview would be considered such bad form that it ruins the opportunity. At the absolute worst, it MIGHT be considered over-dressed for some workplaces with exceptionally casual norms. The important thing, as far as appearance is concerned, is that the candidate be comfortable in their skin-- whatever they are wearing.

However, there are some jobs where not only is a suit expected, but the suit has to be of top quality. The highest-powered sales and executive positions are still dominated by people in suits. You can't just grab any suit and interview for these positions. That's why people drop $800 minimum (and often far, far more) for proper suits. Honestly, if you're going to bother wearing a suit, it really needs to fit nicely. Here's an excellent visual guide on suit-fit. A bad-fitting suit will leave a much worse impression than "under-dressing" by wearing a casual but high-class outfit (like good slacks and cashmere turtleneck, for example).

I challenge anyone to come up with a hard example of where somebody got rejected STRICTLY because they dressed too well for the interview.

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    I am sure there are outliers that we could come up with if we tried. So I removed that challenge because it spoiled an otherwise great answer. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 1 '14 at 17:42
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    I think that teego's challenge ("I challenge anyone to come up with a hard example of where somebody got rejected STRICTLY because they dressed too well for the interview.") does belong, because it is essentially the point of this question ("If so what sorts of places would a suit be over-dressing?"). – Ectropy Jul 1 '14 at 17:52
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    @teego1967 employers rarely provide specific feedback to rejected candidates, so we will probably never know – emory Jul 1 '14 at 22:39
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    The last job I was in we had one person out of all the interviewees come in wearing a suit. He wasn't hired and one of the main arguments was "Does not fit in the team", which was based primarily on being overdressed and overly professional/distant in his behavior, while the rest of the company was much more relaxed and personal. – Erik Sep 30 '15 at 8:14
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    Interesting idea to think could be overdressed for an interview - witnessed first-hand someone being told to leave because they were underdressed, but wonder if there ever could be an instance where the opposite occurs? – RoguePlanetoid Nov 18 '16 at 9:19
5

Generally no... I wouldn't go so far to say a suit is ever "inappropriate" but it could easily be a poor choice depending on the nature of the interview.

Most interviews especially in government and large business keep things strictly in a professional manner, in these cases a suit is almost always a great choice.

On the other hand start-ups, smaller companies, and education are all over the board. Some of these are strict professionalism all the way to strict anti-corporatism. (Basically function as far from corporate "norm" culturally as is feasibly possible.)

Some start-ups have very... Unorthodox approaches to interviewing (Some good, some bad)... An example where a suit would be detrimental, to completely impractical choice would be a case where I first did a technical over the phone, then the interview to see if I'd mesh with the team was hanging out a tiki bar on the beach for several hours. It was very informal and 96 degrees outside. Needless to say it was odd showing up in a nice thin button up shirt and shorts... but nailed it... I'm very much normally a suit and tie person, but 96 degrees and suits just isn't going to work. (they did say, "dress comfortable for the beach")

  • Nice example. Wearing a suit to an unorthodox interview like that could make you seem a little out of touch (or oblivious to the fact that the beach interview was meant to be informal), which may not reflect well. – Ectropy Jul 1 '14 at 16:57
  • @Ectropy Reminds me of Nixon's famous "walk on the beach" in his wingtip shoes. tinyurl.com/lvauzy3 – Spehro Pefhany Jul 1 '14 at 17:18
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In the interview, they are trying to find out whether you are fit for the job, but also vice versa.

By wearing something completely different from what you intend to wear every day, you may miss out on useful feedback.

I am a software developer and on most days I don't have contact with customers. On those days I will wear jeans and a polo shirt.

For interviews I will put on nicer clothes, but if not wearing an actual suit to a job interview is a negative at this company, or if the interviewers / future coworkers do wear suits, then I know the job isn't fit for me.

  • This is also a thing I do. It's just about the fitting with the company, also the reverse. – Erik Sep 30 '15 at 8:08
2

You can always take off a jacket and loosen a tie if the situation warrants it or an interviewer suggests it because the environment is more casual.

You cannot however, recover from the initial impression of being under-dressed and viewed as a slacker or as someone who doesn't take their work seriously. That's why I always wear a suit to an interview. In my opinion, it's just good form.

The caveat here is, as others have mentioned, is that it's really about how comfortable you appear/present yourself - suit or no suit.

2

In certain circumstances I believe that this can hurt you, in a lot of video game companies they are looking for a certain atmosphere and wearing a suit to a interview is definitely noticed.

I know one circumstance where a person wore a suit to the interview, while they were hired they were known as "suit guy" for the duration of there stay.

Another example I have is from one of the top 3 companies in gaming. The person showed up in a suit. The manager of the studio actually negatively commented on the fact he was wearing a suit while walking by. It was all in good fun, but it is noticed and definitely makes you stand out (and not neccessarily in a good way)

0

Yes, it can definitely hurt you. In many high tech companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc., suits are often frowned upon. Steve Jobs wore Jeans and turtleneck and Satya Nadella often gives highly public presentation in a T shirt. If the company CEO wears Jeans, why would you go for a suit? Best case: it shows that you haven't done your homework about corporate culture. Worst case: you come across as stuffy and risk adverse, not a good fit for a many corporate cultures.

The whole "what should I wear" question is easily dealt with: Just ask your recruiter or company contact person. "Hi, it feels to me that you have a very informal culture, so I was thinking to show up in polo shirt and dress pants. Would that be okay? Would you recommend something else?"

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    Does this really address interviews though? I know for a fact that if I was interviewing at Microsoft I'd wear a suit. Once you secure the job, then you follow the typical dress code--I don't think there is any debate there. – Ectropy Jul 1 '14 at 16:34
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    I don't believe that "suits are frowned upon" in Microsoft, Apple and Google to the point where it negatively impacts a candidate's interview. Can you provide hard evidence? – teego1967 Jul 1 '14 at 16:52
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    I have certainly participated in post interview data integration at which being "overdressed" was a minus point. It shows that the candidate hasn't done his/her homework. All of this depends on context: an interview for corporate council is different then for senior member of a technology think tank. – Hilmar Jul 1 '14 at 17:41
  • That the boss can wear what ever he wants does not mean that it is inappropriate for someone else to wear a suit. Now if the culture of the company is no suits ever that is a different story but your answer does not say how to find that out. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 1 '14 at 17:44
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    I agree with @Hilmar, I've also participated in post interviews where wearing a suit (specially if the candidate was uncomfortable with it) was a minus point because they are supposed to come and impress us with his coding skills not with his appearance. For marketing positions is a little different. – hithwen Jul 2 '14 at 7:29
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Looking and flopping like a fish that just got pulled out of the water could be a negative for you. If you get contacted for an interview, it would be silly not to ask about how casual or tight the dress code is - if you are in doubt, that is. Having said that, if you are not making a statement with wearing a suit other than you are wearing a suit and you come across as an approachable person, most of us casual dressers won't hold your wearing a suit against you. We are far more concerned and interested about how well you'll do at the firm.Because compensating you for your services is going to cost us good money.

I am high tech. The last time I wore a suit at an interview was in Dec 1999. None of the suit makers are getting rich off me :)

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I think a good rule of thumb would be: No matter what job you're applying for, you will always have a better chance if you're wearing a suit than you would wearing casual clothes. While some places may think that you look overqualified, you're also showing dedication and good hygiene. If you apply to be a construction worker with a suit, they would probably think "He may be a little overdressed but I appreciate attempt at a nice interview, he also doesn't look like he'll be stinking up the place." But in reality wearing what you're comfortable in so long as it's clean and neat would be the best thing when applying for any type of hands on job. But no, I don't believe it's ever inappropriate to wear a suit.

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    this doesn't seem to offer anything substantial over points made and explained in prior 7 answers – gnat Sep 29 '15 at 9:34

protected by enderland Sep 29 '15 at 14:12

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