To Suit Up or Not to Suit Up

I have a job interview on Thursday, but here’s the thing … it isn’t really a proper interview.

Here’s the deal … I’m playing in a side-project band with some old friends of my brother-in-law. One of those old friends is the director of a local vocational/rehab center. He mentioned that he might be able to get me some hours working with developmentally challenged folks as a sort of living skills coach (take a client out, give him the confidence needed to ride the bus, shop for groceries, that kind of stuff).

So, he’s arranged for me a meeting with a woman at the center who will go over the training I’d need and what sort of work I’d be doing, etc. I’m lead to believe that the work environment itself is very casual – I wouldn’t be wearing a tie to ride the bus – but I’ve always held to that maxim: you always wear a suit to a job interview.

I’m just not sure if this is a proper interview, and whether or not a suit would be over-dressing for the occasion.

I’ll be talking to my friend who helped set up the meeting for his opinion, but I’m curious as to what the Teeming Millions think.

You don’t want to wear an outfit that would make your interviewer uncomfortable.

If they’re comfortable with you in a suit and them in sweatpants and t-shirt, that’s fine. But they probably won’t be. If I interview for a software industry job I never wear a suit because my potential interviewer is likely to be wearing sandals and shorts. I wear slacks and a “nice shirt”, because that’s the dressier side of what people actually wear in the office.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be wearing slacks and a nice shirt when the interviewer is expecting you to be wearing a suit and tie because “everyone knows” you wear a suit to an interview.

But for this type of job I would not wear a suit. But then I’m a fucking slob.

I don’t know shit about shit, but IMHO I would suggest you wear very neatly pressed pants and a well-fitting button-down shirt with no tie. It’s a step above khakis and a polo but not as out-of-place as a suit.

A maxim I once heard was to dress for the job one step above what you are applying for.

I think a suit is overkill in the situation you describe, but you should dress in a way that conveys that you wanted to make a good first impression.

That’s kind of what I’m thinking, but then again, I’d like put forth the notion that I consider myself a professional – even for a job like this that I’ve never done before, and therefore couldn’t be considered a professional at.

I appreciate the feedback; I’m curious to see what my friend will say on the matter.

Just ask him.

I will. Thanks for the tip.

If you’re comfortable in a suit and tie, and wear one all the time for various things and stuff, then by all means wear a suit and tie. Some people wear suits to dinner, when visiting, and so on–if that’s what you’re used to wearing when you “dress up” then you’ll feel better wearing one.

I’d be scared I’d look like a little kid who’s mom dressed him in a suit, so I’d be tempted to dress down even in situations where a suit is appropriate.

I entered this thread to say that the answer is ALWAYS to suit up.

But I think probably not in this case. A tie wouldn’t hurt, though.

I wore a suit to a chimney sweep job interview. I interviewed well. As we were saying goodbye, the boss asked me why I’d worn a suit. Was I aware this was a dirty job? I said I was aware of what the job was and that I was perfectly fine with getting grimy. I’d worn a suit because you wear a suit to an interview. I got the job.

That’s different from the OP situation though, right? This doesn’t sound like a formal interview as much as a “this is what we do…” More of a stealth evaluation where what you wear is secondary in importance to how natural you feel in the environment.

Yeah, I am a suit stickler, but I agree it may not be required here.

I’m not in the must-wear-a-suit camp. I think it depends on the situation, and this one seems like a good case for dressing smart but not funereally. Well-pressed pants and shirt, and maybe a sport coat for a professional-but-not-too-stuffy look.

I would modify the guidance of “dress for the job one step up from what you’re applying for” to “dress a bit smarter than the person interviewing you”. Obviously in business and commercial settings this usually implies “suit”, but IMHO it’s wrong to generalize that to “always suit up”.

I’d at least go with a jacket and slacks. You will be working with a group of developmentally challenged people. I would think better of an interviewee who dresses professionally, and a suit would make me more comfortable that you will not be overly familiar with the clients.

PS, let us know what friend tells you, please.

So I had band practice with my friend who’s hooking me up last night. First of all, I kind of sold him short - but not on purpose. He isn’t just the director of the center; he’s the owner of the center. The person I’ll be meeting with this afternoon works for him.

So, here’s how the conversation went last night.

“I’m feeling like this is an interview, so I should probably wear a suit.”
“Suit! Fuck that. The gig is yours if you want it.”
“Okay, great. Well at the very least I’ll probably get a haircut.” (my hair is really long right now)
“Haircut? Fuck that. Just put on a clean pair of jeans a shirt without any holes in it and you’ll be fine.”

So … no suit, no haircut, but I am dressing for business casual, just in case.

These days for most jobs nice pants/shoes/shirt and tie are OK. I just wore that to interview for my new job.

People keep saying this, but other than some bullshit startup but a bunch of college kids, where in the “software industry” do people not wear a suit?

I have worked software development for 20 years and with the exception of one really crappy job, not once have I worn a suit beyond an interview. Anymore, business casual is a bit loose for an interview, but beyond a tie is overkill.

Game development. Showing up in a suit would be excusable for a kid fresh out of college, but would demonstrate a dangerous level of cluelessness for someone applying for a more senior position.

You’ve heard of Microsoft I presume.

Yeah, there are all kinds of jobs at Microsoft where you would wear a suit. I mean, I guess you would, I’ve never worked that type of job.

But for a development or test position wearing a suit to an interview doesn’t make sense. Unless that’s the way you roll, and you plan to come to work in a suit and tie every day. Which would be fine, we have all kinds of hipster douchebags who wear a private uniform or costume. If you like wearing suits and wanna wear one, then go right ahead. What you don’t want is the “my mom dressed me in this suit” look.

Yeah, you do see guys in suits occasionally. These are college kids interviewing for their first job, guys from Japan, some guy from legal, or a hipster PM wearing some gawdawful mess. For every one guy wearing a tie you’ll see 30 guys with birkenstocks and shorts.

But yes, if you want to move up to circles where people really do wear suits, then start getting used to wearing a suit, even if the people at your current level don’t wear suits.