Job interview-what to wear

This would have been a good question for that ‘Ask the interviewer’ thread from last week, but it’s old enough now that I didn’t want to run afoul of the rules about threadomancy.

I may have a few job interviews coming up, what that heck are you supposed to wear nowadays? The last time I did any interviewing was years ago, and I was fresh out of school begging for a job, so a suit was the obvious choice. Now, I’m not desperate kid, maybe a suit would be perceived as laying it on too thick. Here are the specifics:

The jobs are staff scientist positions, entirely indoors, computer and paper work.
The candidate has more than 8 years in the business, just under ‘senior staff’ level.
The potential employers are small to medium sized companies, with a few hundred to a few thousand employees.
The dress codes are all ‘office causal’-khaki pants, collared shirts with buttons, comfortable shoes. Jeans on Fridays.

What do you think? Would a dress shirt and tie be too informal? Do I need to go with the whole monkey suit?

You can never go wrong with a suit, or a shirt & tie. We’ve been interviewing a lot of people lately and we are very business casual - but I would be shocked if someone interviewing that way.

Another option might be a suit jacket with a collared shirt and khakis, no tie.

Personally, I’d wear a suit to anything but a very creative job. For a scientist job, I’d wear a suit. I think you can’t go wrong with one. Now, you should be wearing an “8 years in the business” suit, not a “my mom bought me this for graduation” suit, of course.

The rule tends to be “dress one or two degrees above what you’d be wearing every day.”

I don’t see how an actual suit jacket would be considered laying it on too thick. A tuxedo, sure - that’s a little much. :slight_smile: But a suit? That would NOT make you seem desperate in my book, or most people’s books, if that’s what you’re asking.

I’d definitely wear at least a suit jacket, nice shirt and pants, but I think that, when interviewing for a business casual environment, you have a little more leeway with what consists of “a suit” for interviewing. These days, it seems that all but the most formal environments allow for color and non-traditional patterns in interview wear; I mix a semi-traditional pinstripe suit with colorful blouses and nice but funky jewelry as part of my interview wear. However, I’m generally interviewing in a field that normally accepts a little bit of oddness as part of a good fit for the job (librarian), and I’m female. I don’t see anything wrong with adding a little color in the shirt and tie, as long as it’s not in the form of cheesy themed ties. If you want to feel more informal and still maintain a higher level of professionalism, skip the tie and not the jacket.

I suspect that interviewing for a scientist job they will cut you a bit of slack. Business casual these days seems to be a decent pair of slacks, a collared shirt, and tie optional: you’d probably get away with business casual, but don’t go in wearing jeans and t-shirt unless your resume demonstrates that you are brilliant. On the other hand, wearing a suit, or at least a good jacket and tie, would not be seen as over-dressed for an interview, even if you’d never dress up like that in the office or lab.

I’d lean towards nice slacks, sports coat, dress shirt, and probably a tie. Right in between a suit and tie and their office casual.

Go to any store and ask the sales person for a “black suit for job interviews.” They can show you exactly what you’ll need.

This. I went to a Men’s Wearhouse, walked up to a clerk:

Me: Hi. I need a suit. For an interview in a legal job.

Clerk: Okay, what do you want? Two-button, three-button, gray, black, pinstriped …?

Me: I have no idea.

Clerk: Ah … all right then.

I did that at a Von Maur once. Big mistake. I walked out with a pair of slacks, a shirt, a tie, and shoes that altogether cost somewhere around $600. I think I forgot to tell them I’m cheap.

The general rule around here seems to be one-two steps above daily wear. Right now, when I interview I wear a nice set of slacks or khakis, a sport coat, and a tie.

I tried wearing suits to interviews when I was first out of college–there is NOTHING more intimidating than realizing the CEO of the company (who wanted to talk to me, he was a micromanager type) is wearing cutoff jean shorts and a ratty t-shirt to your job interview. (worked there for five years, though. =P)

Well, you got the job, so the CEO clearly did not think you were overdressed for the interview. I’d think that a recent graduate would be allowed leeway in both directions in interviewing for an office job: a good suit would be fine, but black tie or white tie would be too extreme, while on the other hand you might get away with neat and clean jeans, since you might be too poor to afford anything better.

Unless they specifically tell you otherwise, I’d go for a suit, nice shirt and a tie. There’s nothing about the job description/environment in your OP indicating that something really hip (torn jeans and a tuxedo jacket! Dress kilt! Etc) is appropriate.

Good luck!

What about when you already have a job and you’re looking for another? You can’t wear a suit to your current job without them getting suspicious. If I take public transportation to my job, I can’t really go home and change before hand.

If there’s no way around it, just explain it to the interviewer immediately after shaking their hand – or, even better, inform them in advance while arranging the place and time for the interview. No big deal, just “I would like to apologize in advance for not wearing a suit to the interview, but this would raise questions at my current employer which I would prefer to avoid.” They’ll understand.

Wear the suit trousers and shirt to work, and carry the suit jacket and tie in a bag or briefcase.

Bust out the suit - particularly since this is an office type job. In every interview I’ve ever done (as the interviewer - not the interviewee) I have given no points for being nicely dressed, but I have taken points off for being badly dressed.

Oh, you just have to be sly.

For example, wear a dress skirt & shirt to the office, but throw a hideous lumpy or brightly colored sweater on top. When they comment on your strange and unusual choice to wear a dress skirt, just go “oh hahaha, yeah, I was too lazy to do laundry last night.” You won’t look at all professional with the hideous sweater, thereby not raising suspicions and after work you just whip it off and voila!

Your suit jacket, fold carefully and gently into a plastic bag to keep clean, and, if you have no inconspicuous place to hang it when you get to work, unfold it and lay it in an unused desk drawer.

Wear a suit. Even the most casual office will not take points off for it (especially the first time you’re there), but they may take points off for not wearing one.

I work in an industry known for its casual dress, and usually for very casually dressed companies. I always feel a bit let down when someone comes in for an interview in anything less than a suit and tie. It sends me the message that they don’t care about social conventions, and have neglected the soft skills. Wearing a suit isn’t going to gain you anything with me, but not wearing one will cost you, and there’s no reason to drop a few points behind right out of the gate.

Just wear a coat, clean shirt, slacks, and a tie. There’s no need to overthink this.