Maybe it’s an East Coast/West Coast thing. Maybe I’m old fashioned (I’m 28). Maybe I’m totally off my rocker. But I was raised that if you’re going to an interview or a career fair, you put your best foot forward, and that means dressing well.
This came up because my company is hiring an intern. So we went to my alma mater’s intern specific career fair. I would say 95% of the students there were wearing a suit and tie or the female equivalent. 90% of the recruiters that were there were in a company polo, 5% in suit and tie, 5% other.
We saw a lot of people at the career fair, and a few things stuck out, so I made a post to another board mentioning tips for students from the employer’s perspective. Most of the stuff wasn’t controversial - things like “speak up so we can hear you” or “don’t apply to a job you’re totally unsuited for”. But there was one tip that everyone jumped all over me for - “wear a suit and tie”.
In my mind (and in my boss’ mind), you always want to show off in an interview and that means dressing well. If you show up in jeans and a tshirt, that doesn’t feel like you respected us or our time enough to spruce up. That doesn’t mean you have to wear that at the office, just for the career fair/interview. In fact, 95% of the candidates at the career fair were in a suit and tie, and the only reason I thought about it was a guy in a stained sweater came to our table to get a job.
When I posted elsewhere though, the reaction was “OMG you want them to wear a suit and tie? Nobody will want to work for you! Why do you care about anything other than my mad skillz? You must be a shithole of a company if you care about dumb stuff like appearance”. (ok, maybe I’m a bit biased, but you get the idea).
Like I said, I’m 28, so I don’t think I’m an old fogey, and while software has a reputation for being laid back, I always wear a suit and tie to my interviews, and I’ve never had trouble getting a job. In fact, my boss won’t consider someone that shows up in sandals and jeans because he doesn’t feel like they respect him. And I agree - part of the interview is your skills, sure, but part of it is your personality, and if you think you should be be hired just because you’re so awesome then you’re probably a pain to deal with. Of course, the response I got was that I must be a pain to work for if I want to see someone show up in a suit.
So, which is it? Am I out-of-the-loop, or are the “kids these days” full of themselves? Both? Neither?