According to the book "Programming Interviews Exposed":

In general, though, a suit is overkill for a technical job interview. A standard technical interviewing outfit for men consists of nondenim cotton pants, a collared shirt, and loafers (no sneakers or sandals). Unless the job you're interviewing for has a significant business or consulting aspect whereby formal dress will be required, you generally don't need to wear a jacket or a tie. Women can dress similarly to men.

There are a few ways of finding out the appropriate attire for an interview. You can ask a friend that knows the place, or if there is a 3rd-party recruiter you're talking to, I wouldn't feel shy in asking them about this area of interview prep.

If you don't have a friend, or 3rd party recruiter, is there another way that you could ask directly without coming off weird? Please include the exact language you would use in the question.

To me, I would rather "play it safe" and be over-dressed at a casual office, than be under-dressed at a conservative office. Is it better just to play it safe?

On the other hand I read in "The Google Resume" (emphasis mine):

'[Tech companies] pride themselves on their funky and innovative culture, and they want people who will fit into this. "You have to prove why you are there, and that you know you fit within their community, that you enjoy the lifestyle," said Andre, a (successful) Apple candidate. "The moment my interviewer said, 'We are very informal' I took off my tie."'

Based on some of the answers below, it's better to play it safe and go with a suit. Should we be conservative in the kind of suit as well? In the market you could find a navy stripe suit, modern fit, light colors, etc. Is it better to play it safe in this regard as well, and not choose a funky color or a light-colored suit?

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    Yes, it's better to play it safe. Wear the suit. You're showing respect for the people who are taking time to meet with you. Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 20:19
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    This isn't enough to warrant an answer, but I wanted to point out that even if you don't have a 3rd-party recruiter you can ask, you absolutely have some contact at the company you can ask about typical attire (although I always err on the side of over-dressing, but not to the point you're uncomfortable). Asking doesn't make you look unprepared, and no one would bat an eye if you did.
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 21:30
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    Really, anyone who calls (or emails) to set up the appointment would be able to tell you what people normally wear to work. I wouldn't overthink it. :)
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 21:40
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    +1 to @jcmeloni for simply asking your recruiter or whatever hiring manager you're scheduling the interview with. I worked for a recruiter for a while, and we always helped coach candidates on their attire prior to their interviews.
    – hairboat
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 22:47
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    @Abby Shoot. Maybe I should've made it an answer. :)
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 22:50

18 Answers 18


I'm going to run counter to the answer so far that say "if in doubt, wear a suit". I agree with the referenced quote - developers typically do not wear suits, they wear upscale business casual - slacks, khakis, sweaters, polo shirts, button down shirts or similar (and female equivalents). Rarely in the last 10 years have I interviewed a technical professional in a suit, tie or even a jacket - and those rare occasions are usually college students.

That said - when interviewing for a management or customer-facing position, I'd say it's still advisable to wear a suit. Similiarly, if you plan to market your strong suit as presentations and/or soft skills to non-technical people - wear a suit - show that you know how to dress well.

But, by and large, development has become such a dress-down game, that I don't feel a suit works to one's best advantage - it often strikes me as a little too old school or as if the applicant isn't aware of current norms.

To circle round, though - I really don't think I'd turn down or accept an applicant based on whether they missed the boat on suit vs. business casual. Being obviously dirty, offensively dressed, or vulgar might rule a candidate out, but once we get within the range of professional attire, its what's in the candidate's head that matters.

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    Absolutely. If you look put-together and like you gave some thought to your appearance that morning, I don't care what your pants are made out of.
    – hairboat
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 22:49
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    Wearing a "suit and tie" can never hurt your chances, and if by some random chance is the reason they didn't select you, do you really want to work at that business. I grew up knowing that men wear suit and ties to job interviews and women wear either a suit or a work formal dress ( i.e. not the dress you wear to the club )
    – Donald
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 16:21
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    While it's now optional to forego the suit for an interview (I always wear a suit, because I like a nice-looking suit and it makes me feel good), it's always a good idea to wear an outfit that makes you feel good about yourself. Don't go out and buy a suit the day before your interview because you're freaking out. If you have chosen an outfit, make sure it makes you feel good--then get it tailored to really fit your body. This is especially the case for a suit, and even button-down shirts and pants. Commented May 8, 2014 at 18:50
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    @bharal he covered that in "If in doubt, wear a suit". The inference being that you would only not wear a suit if you've been explicitly told not to. You're right though, nobody has ever been turned away from an interview for being too smart or taking it too seriously (with the possible exception of a clown), but it's possible to instantly lose a job opportunity if you turn up under-dressed to the interview. "If in doubt, wear a suit" is the simplest, most important piece of advice
    – Jon Story
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 12:07
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    I've worn a suit for a technical interview in the UK - any interview it's safe to wear a suit, a comment like "you didn't need to wear a suit" with a smile is better than a "you should have worn a suit" without a smile Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 13:43

In my experience, it still absolutely depends on where you are interviewing. Here's some generally-applicable advice:

  • Err on the side of over-dressing. The worst reaction you'll get is a "Make sure not to wear that tie to work!" joke. Usually, no harm done for overdressing.
  • If it's a technical position for a financial firm or similar, wear a suit or at a minimum a collared shirt, slacks, and tie.
  • If it's a software company, I'd go slacks, collared shirt (long sleeve) and tie (or similar business casual for women). Everyone there is probably wearing jeans, but wearing jeans to an interview is still a mistake, I believe.
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    I'd definitely agree that it's hard to be overdressed. It's also very hard to recover from making a bad impression due to being underdressed.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 20:30
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    For financial sector, anything other than a suit is underdressing. (I work in an IB and have gone through several technical interviews).
    – quant_dev
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 11:10
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    Or you could skip the tie and just wear a sport coat and generally be acceptable across the board.
    – anonymous
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 14:47
  • @RobZ: What if I prefer a waistcoat to a sport coat? :P Commented May 2, 2012 at 4:40
  • @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner - I've wore a waistcoat to an interview before in lieu of a sport coat.
    – anonymous
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 6:20

The answers here all seem to say "play it safe and wear the suit", but I'd like to offer some insight from my experience – from both sides of the table.

This advice applies only to technical (developer) interviews. This is probably bad advice for people in other—especially customer-facing—roles.

Like many things in life, the answer is "it depends." I've interviewed with and worked in both large corporate environments and small start-ups. While it's true that even in large, established companies, dress is becoming less formal, I still wouldn't show up in anything less than a shirt and tie. If I had the misfortune of interviewing with a very conservative institution (I'm looking at you, banks/finance), a suit is the only way to go.

The startup world is entirely different. I've walked in to an interview in nothing more than a button-down and cotton pants, and the first words out of the interviewer's mouth were, "oh – you didn't have to get all dressed up just for me." While this isn't necessarily a negative, many startups are looking for as much (if not more) of an attitude/cultural fit as a technical/skillset fit. Showing up in a stuffy suit to be interviewed by someone in a hoodie might actually work against you – even if subconsciously.

I've seen this first-hand at my current (startup) company. Like anyone else in a mid-market city, we're struggling to find talent, so we brought in a candidate who wasn't the strongest. He showed up in dress pants, shirt, and a jacket. While he didn't work out for other reasons (he really didn't have the technical chops nor the cultural fit we're looking for), the one thing that stood out to me was a comment made later: "his outfit felt like he was trying too hard."

This particular candidate wasn't going to get hired no matter what he wore to the interview, but "playing it safe" didn't help either. Clearly, we're not consciously making decisions based on interview attire (other than "didn't show up in a mankini") – that would be a downright silly hiring practice. However, had his objective technical skills been closer to the bubble, the "trying too hard" attitude might have kept the scales tipped in a "no" direction based on the purely subjective cultural fit criteria.

The bottom line here is you're interviewing for a position where there's often zero customer interaction and sometimes even extremely limited internal (inter-department) interaction. (Or none, for WFH gigs.) As long as you're getting the job done, how you present yourself doesn't really matter (within limits, obviously). The disheveled mess with a beard and glasses who can close 20 issues a day is much more valuable to me than the gentleman with impeccable taste who still doesn't really understand the difference between HTML and (shudder) PHP.

So do you show up in jeans and a t-shirt? Probably not, unless you know everyone else does, and that they'd be OK with it. A suit? Only if you know (or have reason to suspect) that not doing so would be a detriment. In most cases, there's a happy medium to find.

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    @JDS: Well, matter of taste.
    – josh3736
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 15:29

I posted this answer previously to a related question of Programmers.SE

Clearly, being underdressed is a big risk. If you show up to an interview where they expect you to be wearing a suit and you’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt, there is a big chance your interviewers won’t take you seriously and be irritated that you don’t take their job interview seriously. I personally have never been in such an interview.

On the other hand, despite what some of the other answers here say, there can be serious risks to overdressing too. It is simply not true that there is no harm to just wearing a suit to every interview. I have worked at companies where candidates who wear suits to interviews are presumed to not be a good “culture fit”. At these places, if you wear a tie or a suit to a interview, you are assumed to be a “suit”—someone who should perhaps be in sales or finance—or even a moron overdressing to hide your incompetence.

I had a discussion at lunch with some coworkers about interviews and attire.

ME: What would you think if an interview candidate came in wearing a suit and tie?
COWORKER 1: Who is this clown?
COWORKER 2: I would think “oh jeez, this is some kind of Enterprise Java Bean programmer”
COWORKER 1: Or I would think he IS an Enterprise Java Bean
ME: <spit-take>

These places are not mythical or marginal—they are major employers of software engineers like Google, Microsoft, and Apple:

People sometimes wonder how they should dress. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable. If you still want a recommendation, I say a button-down shirt or even a T-shirt. A suit can come off as too formal in some companies (e.g. Google).

This point is not as important, because people won't really care. You should ask your recruiter about what to wear, since this differs by country and East Coast / West Coast. A company like Google is more casual, so if you come in a three-piece suit, your interviewers may raise an eyebrow. If you've got the goods in terms of engineering skills, it's not a dealbreaker though. One candidate came to an interview wearing a gothic mesh shirt with holes through which his nipples were clearly visible. He still got the job. (I don't recommend taking this risk.)
Preparing For a Software Engineering Interview, by Niniane Wang, June 2006

No tie, unless you're in sales or marketing. I've worked at Apple, Microsoft and Adobe, nobody wears ties to interviews for tech positions.
Comment on Ask MetaFilter

The only technical interview where I've ever felt inapprpropriately dressed was the time I wore a suit to interview at google. [rolls eyes at self] The people interviewing me, with whom I was hoping to become peers, were all wearing jeans and tee shirts. I felt like a complete idiot, was uncomfortable all day (for the standard 8-hour google marathon interview), and I didn't get the job.
— From this related question on Stack Overflow

I have worked in companies where people may have missed out on job offers because they came to the interview in a suit. People would say they're not a good "cultural fit.
— From a comment on the Joel on Software forums

You absolutely MUST do due diligence and find out what level of sartorial formality is expected from interview candidates. This means doing the following in this order and stopping when you get an answer: (1) researching on the company's careers or jobs site for hints—Google, for example, explicitly tells interview candidates “business casual is fine”; (2) asking friends or acquaintances you know who work at the company; and as a last resort (3) ask the HR rep or recruiter who set up the interview. Ask something along the lines of “I’ve worked in office environments with very different formality levels. How formal would you say it is at your company” or “What do successful candidates tend to wear to interviews?” There is some risk that the interviewer will be turned off that you wouldn’t know what to wear to an interview, but I think in most cases you can avoid that kind of situation through prior due diligence; i.e. step (1) or (2).

For what it's worth, my last two jobs have been for startups in Silicon Valley and I wore jeans to my interviews with a button-down shirt and casual loafers.

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    Although good, it's worth remembering that Silicon Valley is in it's own little microcosm which is not necessarily applicable elsewhere. I certainly agree with checking beforehand, but I've generally found that companies which don't expect a suit either say so explicitly, or make it very clear on their website how informal they are - usually via a cheesy team-stood-near-the-company-BBQ photo
    – Jon Story
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 15:06

As a motorcyclist, for almost all of the interviews I have attended in the last 10 years I have worn a collared shirt and either smart black jeans or black leather trousers, and have never suffered for it.

In the early days of my career I would take a suit with me, arrive early and change when I got there. Usually though, arriving early just seemed to annoy interviewers.

Later I started arriving on time and asking the interviewer if they would like me to change, the theory being that they would understand the impracticality of riding a motorcycle in a suit, yet still appreciate me going to the effort. I never once had an interviewer say yes.

Since then I've taken the attitude that if smart casual isn't good enough, then I probably wouldn't fit in very well anyway, and this has served me well.

Also, if like me you do not feel comfortable in a suit, the value of fitting in might be outweighed by the adverse effects of wearing the suit on your interview performance. For me, just wearing a tie can put me ill at ease. Even so, if I turn up to interview and everyone is wearing a tie, I might excuse myself for a moment and don the tie I brought with me, just in case.

Ultimately, if you look businesslike and feel confident, it probably doesn't matter for a technical job, unless you are trying to get into a very formal/conservative environment.

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    I ride too, and dress shoes on a bike just don't cut it. +1
    – jmort253
    Commented Apr 16, 2012 at 0:46
  • While I understand and generally agree with your position, I don't agree that black jeans or leather pants are 'businesslike'. Nor do I accept that "I arrived like this, so I will interview like this" is a good enough reason. If I normally bicycle or run to work, I'd wear appropriate clothes (shoes, shorts, etc) - but I wouldn't assume it appropriate to interview in those clothes. Commented May 10, 2012 at 5:46
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    @KirkBroadhurst - Agreed, but it is the balance between looking right and feeling right that I was trying to get at. Also, I wasn't trying to say that black jeans were businesslike, just that they would usually be considered smart casual and for some environments that would be sufficiently businesslike. For an environment where casual is the norm, smart casual would be the one step above which is enough to indicate that you have respect for the company and position you are interviewing for.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 11:48
  • "if you look businesslike and feel confident, it probably doesn't matter for a technical job" -- although nohat contradicts this by saying that people at Google, Apple, etc, freely admit to some kind of discriminatory hiring policy against people who wear a suit. So watch out there if you feel confident in a suit. I wonder if this is just to do with whoever bullied them at school being better-dressed than them but still, there it is ;-) Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 23:50

It depends on the situation and anyone that tells you otherwise is likely over generalizing the industry.

On one extreme you are going to run into companies that will promptly tell you to go home if you are under dressed, but these are rare and the average person is not going to run into just as a matter of course. On the other hand you are going to run into companies that will give you an immediate down vote just for wearing a suit to an interview with them; however, my own experience here is that you are more likely to encounter a personal bias from the interviewer as opposed a full blown company culture against suits.

In general practice you are going to be best served by ensuring that you appear to have put thought into appearance that day, if only as recognition of the situation and as a courtesy to others. Baring extremes on one end of the spectrum or the other, you are unlikely going to have a negative reaction if you are wearing a well fitted suit to the interview, although if the suit fits poorly (i.e. the suit is wearing you as opposed to the other way around) it can reflect negatively.

Generally when I go in for an interview I've always worn a suit or slacks and a sport coat and the only exception thus far being when I interviewed with a start-up and found out they were biased against suits before hand and "dressed down" by wearing slacks and a dress shirt.

Don't forget that when interviewing you are also interviewing the company as well though and the appearance of the people interviewing you also says something. Personally I find it a touch disrespectful to be interviewed by someone wearing shorts and a pair of saddles and one should expect the people interviewing you to dress a touch better than they normally would as a matter of courtesy and respect as well.

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    Expecting those interviewing you to dress for the occasion is unrealistic. The people already at the company are going to be wearing what they normally wear, because they are there normally. Talking to you is at most as small part of a much larger day, and some may not even know in advance they are going to interview someone. At one company I worked, it was routine for my boss to pop his head into my office with no warning and say "Olin, here is John Doe interviewing for the Assistant Gopher position. Can you talk to him, then bring him back to me when you're done?". Commented May 8, 2014 at 20:38

I generally just directly ask the person I'm going to be interviewing with, or the person setting up the interview (who is sometimes, but not always, the same person). I don't see much point in trying to guess or find out indirectly.

You asked for exact language, but I don't think it matters much. In one case, I asked (by e-mail) "What should I wear (suit and tie, casual)?" In another case, I was a bit more informal because I was asking a friend who works there: "I'm guessing (and hoping) that this is casual dress (I had to wear a full suit and tie for an interview today)." (In both cases, the answer was business casual.)

There's enough uncertainty about proper clothing for technical interviews that coming out and asking shouldn't make a bad impression.

Once or twice I've worn a suit and tie to an interview and been asked why I was dressed so formally; in one case the person interviewing me said he didn't own a suit himself.


If there's a good reason not to just ask the interviewer what to wear, I'd be interested in seeing it.

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    I agree. As someone who has interviewed candidates for various engineering positions, I would never feel offended or think badly of anyone who directly asks what to wear. Actually, it shows some thought and a good way to deal with what is not a simple problem. You can't expect someone that hasn't been to the company before to know the culture, so it's a perfectly valid and reasonable question. How else are they supposed to find out before the interview? Commented May 8, 2014 at 20:46

Like it or not. If you don't dress up for the interview, even in a casual dress workplace environment, the interviewer may think that you don't consider their position worthy of making an effort to look extra nice.

It may also lead them to conclude that if the interview isn't worth your putting in a little extra effort then there will be plenty of tasks that the job requires from you that you would consider not worth your extra effort also.

In other words, you risk creating an immediate negative first impression by not demonstrating that this interview is important enough to you that it makes you want to put in the extra effort to look nice.

While I don't consider any of the places I have worked at (in 20+ years) as stuffy and all have been casual dress, I can't recall anyone that was hired who didn't show up for the interview in a suit or business dress (for women). I can recall several decent candidates who dressed casual but were turned down for various reasons which may have been amplified in their importance because of the negative first impression by not putting in such a simple extra effort as dressing up.


Realistically (by which I mean cynically), it works something like this:

  • There's a reasonable body of thought in pop psychology that people judge each other almost instantly. If this is true then job interviews are mostly pointless, you could just as well show up, shake hands, and they could make an offer or not. However, it's probably not as false as people might think who put a lot of time, energy, and technique into hiring. Often that time isn't going into deciding whether you're suitable, it's spent trying to rank the suitable candidates because they only have one place to fill. Your clothing isn't going to directly enter into this fine comparison, only the coarse one.
  • Some people genuinely don't care what anyone wears as long as it covers key areas of the anatomy. Such employers are irrelevant to this discussion because it's very difficult to dress wrong for them. They're of passing interest, though, because if you are unbothered what you wear then at least you have something in common with them.
  • Many people claim to judge you primarily on your skills (and, to be precise, aptitudes, knowledge, experience, approaches to problem-solving), especially for technical posts.
  • Many (perhaps most) people actually judge each other on their clothes all the time. Some of those have the decency to wish they didn't, but they find themselves doing it anyway.
  • The intersection of the previous two groups is far from empty, which means there's a significant body of employers who claim (and perhaps think) they assess on skills, but actually use skills as a tie-breaker between people who look the part.
  • Some people feel uncomfortable in suits, but take this too far and genuinely cannot comprehend that the same is not true of everyone. Therefore, to them, a person in a suit who is not attending a wedding is some brand of charlatan. They are fools, but they're also clever and senior in some software companies, so they're extremely high-functioning fools. They also literally cannot comprehend that a person who chooses to wear a suit to an interview (or in general to meet clients or other business-related strangers), might wear jeans to work on a regular basis if that turns out to be the done thing. They do not have much versatility of dress, and they fear and distrust people to whom a single universal style of dress just isn't so important.
  • Some people feel scruffy when not in suits, but take this too far and genuinely cannot ... [similar stuff to the above] ... fear and distrust people to whom a single universal style of dress just isn't so important.
  • Both of the above groups spend a lot of time talking about "company culture" and "whether people fit in", when actually they're just looking at whether you look the same as them the first time they meet you and laugh at their jokes. This is code, it means "we fear diversity, and it's only by pure dumb luck or the advice of our lawyers that we're not discriminating on a protected characteristic". If you're reasonably happy to get along with anyone, then on the one hand you can probably chameleon your way in, but on the other hand you might come to think of them as conformist and insular. But if you can get along with anyone, you can get along with insular conformists, so that might be OK.
  • When people do judge you, they judge you by their own standards. It used to be that you could buy a book of etiquette that just straight told you what to wear to every conceivable occasion, and everyone of the social classes it covered worked from the same book. This is no longer the case. Everyone makes it up as they go along but many are afflicted by a delusion that their personal or corporate preference is "just common sense".
  • There is no single form of attire that is acceptable in all interview situations. Therefore, if you want to hit the right tone you must research or ask. There's no point looking for a silver bullet because there isn't one.

If you don't want to ask them directly about interview attire (and asking is a risk, because of it being "common sense"), then look into what people from the company wear to meet clients. This is their idea of "smart for strangers", and in most posts there's some chance they'll stick you in front of a client occasionally and they'll want to know you'll look alright. So they probably won't hold it against you. But if there's a big difference between what their salesfolk wear to meet clients and what their developers wear to meet clients then get yourself the right side of that gap.


From the perspective of a developer who's not good enough to work for ultra cool, cutting edge Silicon Valley companies, I would say bite the bullet and wear that stupid suit.

I look forward to the day when wearing a suit to an interview is seen as silly, but the fact of the matter is there may still be some old fashioned hiring managers out there who think you should dress to impress, and might feel miffed if you show up in just a polo and khakis.

Wearing a suit will never cause a manager to not hire you, but, unfortunately showing up dressed too casually may.

  • "I look forward to the day when wearing a suit to an interview is seen as silly" - I'm sorry, but wearing a suit shows you have style, which is something most software professionals don't have. This developers life's episode on taste explains in further detail.
    – jrg
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 20:30
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    @jrg - Doesn't really matter if you are wearing a suit or not as long as you are showing a bit of thought and personal pride in what you are wearing. A nice well tailored suit can say a lot about as person just as much as a cheap looking suit that is sloppily worn can say a lot.
    – anonymous
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 14:54
  • Not getting a job because I showed up dressed too casually is fine with me. If appearance is that important for the company, I probably don't want to work there. There was a time I'd dress up for an interview, but the past 20+ years, I haven't worn anything to an interview I wouldn't want to wear doing my daily job. Dressing up is for weddings, funerals and fine dining. Not for work.
    – Abigail
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 23:51

When I first enterd the work world, suits were required for interviewing as they were required for daily dress. But times have changed and the workplace is much more informal. Software professionals in particular wear jeans to work every day at most workplaces. I don't even own a suit anymore.

For an interview, you are trying to make a good impression. Ask the person who sets up the interview what the company dress standard is if you feel unsure of what to wear. Then dress one notch above that. So if they all come to work in jeans, wear slacks and a nice shirt if you are male and a dress pants or a skirt with a nice top if you are a woman.

Women have some special issues associated with interviewing. This is not the place to wear very short miniskirts or any attire that shows your bra straps or cleavage or belly button. Keep sexy for outside the office. Do not wear killer high heels. You want to be taken seriously as a professional not as a potential date.

Whatever you wear, make it neat and tidy and clean.

No matter how informal the office is, leave off the t-shirts with the funny sayings or the obnoxious or political messages. Even if you choose to come in jeans, wear a nice shirt.


While you could ask, another way to resolve this is to go do a little reconnaissance of gathering the information by watching the place when people show up for work there assuming it isn't a massive place where it may be hard to figure out who are the developers in that place.

If I did have to ask someone at the place, I'd likely phrase it, "Hi, I'm coming in for an interview and wondered if there was a dress code I am to follow."

The key in using that kind of wording is that I'm just asking the question in a direct manner without a lot of fluff or build up. If necessary I would disclose my name and the interview details but I don't see these as important initially to note.


Just like your resume, your attire should follow the company's culture. But I've always played it safe. And it's worked so far :)

If you are interviewing for big companies that are fairly known as formal (IBM, Microsoft, etc.), wear a suit.

Everyone else (small or laid-back companies)? Just lose the tie and the suit jacket. Keep the shoes, the pants and the shirt. You still look very professional, just a little less formal than suit.


Err on the side of "overdressing." There are more than a few companies where casual dress is not acceptable, especially in the financial industry. Scott Adams has an interesting anecdote about one interview where he dressed like a college student:

When I was twenty, I was escorted out of an office building because of my choice of clothes. It happened at one of the top accounting firms in the country, and I was there for an interview during my last semester of college. I was so naïve that I didn't realize anyone would have a problem with me showing up with my long hair and casual clothes, college style. After all, it was no secret I was in college. It said so right on my resume. My interviewer sat down at the conference table, looked at me, and said, "Apparently you don't know why you're here. Let me show you the door." And he did.

One bank I worked at would send people home who were wearing sneakers and/or jeans. I have odd shaped feet that make acquiring "dress shoes" a multi-week process (it is possible for me to enter a shoe store, try on every shoe in the store and find none that fit comfortably), so I had to find sneakers that were monochromatic enough to pass for dress shoes. When I do find dress shoes that fit, I now acquire enough spares to last about 20 years of normal use.

In an interview, you only have a few seconds to make a first impression, and it is very hard to get over a bad beginning. My advice for reducing the risks of that part of the interview is to dress conservatively and well. One of the questions that folks interviewing IT workers is along the lines of "can we let this person out where the customers might see them?"


Rarely is a tech company just a technical company. Most tech companies focus on a particular industry and will follow those standards. Finance and legal, for instance, are still very strict. Marketing and healthcare are a bit more relaxed.

One good way to determine the appropriate interview wear is to ask if there's a company dress code, or a dress code for your position. Technical consultants, for instance, may be required to wear a suit, so if you're interviewing for that position, prove that you can wear a suit.

If the recruiter tells you that there is no dress code or that the dress code is very relaxed, take a look at the industry. A technology company that focuses on marketing and advertising or considers itself 'disruptive' might want someone to signal that they are 'fashion forward' with their interview outfit. For men this could mean suit pants and a button down shirt with contemporary pattern on it. For women, classy separates or modest dresses, preferably with an item or two in a 'bold' color or pattern.

Interviewees who want to signal that they are reliable may want to stick to 'middle-management wear': khaki pants, button downs or polo shirts, pullover sweaters if it's cold, knee-length skirts and dresses, dress shoes with reasonable heels.

I recently attended a technical interview where I wore a dark green patterned dress that was fashion-forward yet modest, dark tights, gray lace-up heels, and a black open cardigan. A friend of mine attended an interview for a creative position in a teal blazer, with button down top and black trousers. We were both offered positions.

When in doubt, the dress code of your local catholic high school is often a good guide: http://www.ignatius.org/media/2648/dress-and-appearance-standards-2016-17.pdf If you're looking to come off as 'bleeding edge', break or bend a couple of these rules while adhering to the rest.

At minimum, your cloths should fit well, be clean, free of holes or rips, sufficiently modest for your industry, and look new.


Plenty of the answers here cover you should consider the job and cultures of the potential employers and that suits aren't required but more so the "safe" answer.

It's also worth noting you should consider your ambitions and your background when choosing your attire.

If I'm taking a job as a junior dev, but my ambition is to be a Project Manager, I should dress the part. I also should act in a manner appropriate to someone hoping to be a PM. (Dress to the job you want, not the job you have, perception is a powerful thing)

It's also worth considering your background. I use to sit on a board of directors and a few roles where a nice suit was an unspoken must. If you're moving from a role that had a higher expectation of dress code to a role that's a bit more lax you should probably over dress a bit. It's a perception thing, probably one that isn't really fair, but due to my background sometimes people expect me to be a notch more formal and professional than those in my same role.

My experience has been if you were a leader, or have ambitions to be one. You want people to think of you as someone who can lead before they are looking. (that way when your boss retires you're the natural choice to fill in their shoes)


Adding one more point of view here that might work on a technical environment (has worked for me so far), as most questions are looking into the company side of things.

Always remember that an interview is a two-way process: the company is judging if you will be a good employee/asset, but you are also checking if the company will be a good place to work.

Consider dressing as you would like to dress everyday.

I can't say for you, but if a company wants me to show up to work in a suit or even in slacks and loafer I don't want to work there

  • Interviews are not everyday situations. It would be better to dress as if today was the day the executives were visiting. I wear jeans to work every day. I would not wear jeans to an interview (or when the head of our organization is visiting).
    – ColleenV
    Commented Apr 12, 2021 at 16:03

Personally, I would wear if you have it, a suit and a patterned shirt, no tie.

If you don't own a suit you may want to consider nice slacks, a plain shirt (blue always feels safe to me), and a tie.

I have applied for various IT roles in a government office or a bank/large company: the suit and no tie has seemed about correct.

Applying for a technical job in a smaller company or out of something like "best buy", I would just go slacks and a shirt and a tie.

  • 2
    Could you possibly expand this to explain why this is the correct answer? Answers that just say what to do with out explaining why are not very useful to people trying to make difficult decisions. Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 14:01

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