Q: I have an interview with a company next week. It is in a different industry than the one I am currently working in. I am unsure of how to dress. Does a man wear a suit, a tie or jeans to an interview today? Dress codes are all over the place now. How do I make sure I am appropriately dressed?
A: You have made an accurate observation. Over the past several years, many workplaces have become more casual with respect to dress. Suits and ties are no longer the norm in many offices. However, there are still industries in which the suit is still the norm. Many who work in law firms or financial services are still wearing suits, except for maybe on casual Fridays. However, I think a suit in a start-up technology firm would be unusual.
Remember you are not an employee (yet). It is better to be over dressed than under dressed. I would avoid wearing jeans for most professional work environments. I would recommend wearing dress pants, a button-down shirt and a blazer for most interviews within a professional workplace.
Try to do a little bit of research before your interview. Go online and see if you can find any information about dress. Some companies will have photos of employees or even have their dress code described on their company website. Even if the photos may be “stock” photos, you can get a sense of the company’s expectations about dress by the photos selected.
If you are working with a recruiter, ask the recruiter in advance. Take it one step further, use Linkedin. Often Linkedin profiles will have pictures of the person within their profile. Are they wearing suits or are they dressed a bit more casually in their Linkedin photographs? If you discover you have a contact on Linkedin who is working at this company, try to connect with that contact via telephone. This employee (or former employee) may be able to share valuable intelligence with you that you would not find elsewhere, including information about dress, culture and the company’s financial health.