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The interviewer has mentioned the attire for my interview - business casual - which is one notch below business. I am thinking of overdressing to the interview to show them a good first impression that I am serious about the job.

However, would the interviewer see this as disrespectful because I am not following their provided 'instructions'?

marked as duplicate by Dawny33, nvoigt, Alec, Jim G., Michael Grubey Nov 16 '15 at 23:07

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    When in doubt, go more formal. I doubt anyone will be too concerned if you turn up wearing business clothing rather than business casual. I almost always do, and then can dress it down after I commence the job :) – Jane S Nov 15 '15 at 11:54
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    @gnat Please actually read the question because that link is not at all a duplicate. The OP obviously knows what business casual means, he's asking if it's okay to overdress despite being given a dress code. – Lilienthal Nov 15 '15 at 22:01
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First of all, it depends a bit on how the hint was given: If it was worded like "Business casual is sufficient", it might be just a nice hint by the interviewer telling you that you don't have to be too concerned about dressing not formal enough. in this case it may be fine to come in full business attire but then you shouldn't be surprised if your counterparts look somewhat underdressed compared to you.

If it was more like "Please dress in business casual", this might express that they expect to see you in a certain type of attire. In this case, if you appear blatantly overdressed, then yes, it could be seen as a negative point, since you were obviously not able to dress appropriately and/or maybe do not pay attention to orders given to you.

However, all these types of attire have some bandwidth of acceptable clothing, so you have some margin to play with. That means, don't take the lower end of business casual, but go as formal as you can without overdressing.

  • +1. As a hiring manager I would think that the candidate either has a problem following basic instructions or could potentially have trouble adjusting to a business casual workplace. It won't ruin your chances but it is a red flag. Going for the formal end of business casual is excellent advice. – Lilienthal Nov 15 '15 at 22:04
  • As someone who has spent 40 years in the business world, I find the statement that an over-dressed applicant "might have trouble adjusting" to be utterly ridiculous. Having said that, no, you don't show up to a carpenter job site in a suit jacket. – dwoz Nov 15 '15 at 22:18
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    It really depends how the person said it. Was it just a passive mention along with date, time and place. As in "come to room xxx, on thursday, business casual dress is fine". Or was it very specific. "come to room xxx on thursday and dress down, don't make me look like a slob compared to you" – Dan Shaffer Nov 16 '15 at 19:00
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I would over-dress just in case. I always wear a suit and tie to interviews. For the job I am beginning shortly, I wore a suit and tie and everyone there was in jeans and a t-shirt, and I got the job.

Nobody is going to say "well he was a great candidate....but he dressed too nice. Let's keep looking". The conversation could go the other way though "Well he was a great candidate....but he dressed in shorts and sandals. Bad culture fit!".

  • In my previous job, management decide against someone who was overdressed with the same "bad culture fit" argument. It can happen (although it might be rare and depend on the area) – Erik Nov 18 '15 at 11:12
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However, would the interviewer see this as disrespectful because I am not following their provided 'instructions'?

It's unlikely your decision not to follow instructions would be seen as "disrespectful".

On the other hand, you were specifically told what level of formality was expected. There's no advantage to dressing more formally. And it's possible (although probably unlikely) that someone would wonder why you can't follow instructions.

When I interviewed candidates, I always made sure to let them know (either directly or through a recruiter) that we were business casual. If the candidate showed up in a suit, or otherwise overdressed, it didn't improve their first impression at all. It made me wonder if I forgot to tell them the "dress code".

As long as you don't overdo the formality, you'll likely be okay. But since you were given specific clues as to what was expected, I would follow the instructions and dress in business casual.

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During an interview, slightly overdressed for the company is perfect. A bit too overdressed, or not overdressed, is fine. A lot overdressed, or underdressed, is a negative.

On the other hand, a reasonable interviewer wouldn't keep quiet and then not give you the job because the way you are dressed. They would tell you, and for example if everyone wears a suit and you came in jeans and t-shirt, you would be given the choice of coming to work in a suit or not starting the job. Or if you really, really like wearing suits and others in the company don't, that's either acceptable or not; and if it is not acceptable you will have a choice.

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