Should You Always Wear A Suit To A Job Interview?

Conventional wisdom holds that you should dress sharply for a job interview, and that often involves wearing a suit. But that might not always be the best choice.

Interview picture from Shutterstock

A post for Harvard Business Review highlights that wearing a suit won't always be the right choice, especially for more technical roles. "If you go to an interview at Facebook in a suit, you're going to look like an idiot,” professor of management at San Francisco State University John Sullivan pointed out.

The tricky element is working out what the dress code is. Looking at profiles for other employees of the company on LinkedIn can give you a clue. Industry conferences are also a good indication — if you work in a field where no-one suits up for those, chances are that the suit-and-tie look could be overkill.

Did you wear a suit for your last interview? Tell us in the comments.

Setting the Record Straight on Job Interviews [Harvard Business Review via Business Insider]


Comments

    I have rarely worn a suit to an interview, because it sets a false expectation. And personally, I don't really want to work somewhere a suit is required daily. Slacks and a business shirt should be plenty, with a tie for formal meetings and the sleeves rolled up for getting into the meat of a project.

      There are relatively few workplaces these days where a suit is required daily, but I don't think that is the determinant of how to dress for an interview. Wearing a suit to an interview is in my view a prudent, conservatively-sensible choice. With rare exceptions (e.g. the Facebook example) you won't get marked down for doing so, but there's a greater risk if you under-dress relative to the interviewer's expectation.

        I agree, I don't see why a suit would be such a negative thing, at the end of the day an interview isn't your every day working situation, I would have thought that wearing a suit would be part of you showing the best of yourself and setting a high standard to begin with, how is anyone supposed to understand the culture of a workplace without really working there first or knowing someone that does? I think that's a bit of a ridiculous expectation. You also don't know what people's background is, for some wearing a suit could be a sign of respect and how serious you are as opposed to trying to be a pretentious jerk.

    Places I have worked expected a minimum collared shirt for an interview. If you dressed down any more than that such as a polo, you were struck off no matter what.

    For the non-profit / social services sector, except in senior management roles (and even then, sometimes), you wouldn't wear a suit - it makes you look like you don't understand the work culture and won't be able to empathise with clients.

    I remember bagging my first office jobs many many years ago after coming out of high school and working in Maccas for a while. After a while of working in that job my manager told me that i wasnt required to wear a suit to the job interview and was kind of surprised I did. This largely happened because my battery went flat when i got the call to come in for an interview and probably missed that bit in the panic. He also said that because i had turned up in a suit, he would have hired me over every other candidate.

    Tricky one! I've never gone to an interview (except the occasional first chat with a recruitment agency sprung on me) not in a suit. If the role was a technical/creative role, I would think about it: slacks, a sports jacket, Zegna shirt; depends on the style of the company. In professional and managerial roles I'd always suit up; as the story above, a suit and tie is a knockout, almost no matter what anyone says.
    I've interviewed people sans suits (one guy was also sans tie, ironed shirt, good posture and understanding of the job...) and if they have the goods, I try to set the attire to one side, but it can be tricky when the suit and the non-suit are close; I'd probably be swayed maybe sub-consciously, because I wear a suit generally.
    What counts at an interview in my view is have you got the experience, personal commitment and intellectual engagement to excel in the role; I'd expect neat and suitable attire....its simply manners, in my view, and I'd see how you treat me as how you'd treat my clients.

    Always wear one, but have a shirt that looks decent on its own and be prepared to remove the jacket and loosen or ditch the tie entirely (tie in jacket pocket, fold the jacket over a chair back/whatever), and roll up your shirt sleeves.

    How casual or uptight you look from there is far more greatly influenced by your stance and posture. Lounge the right way and you can make a rigid chair look like a sofa.

    If I dressed the way i go to work to an interview, i'd never get a job anywhere.

    For IT roles in tech start-ups and Silicon Valley style companies a suit is nothing but a strike against you, because it shows a distinct lack of knowledge of the company's culture. However, if you're in doubt where nice, new high quality jeans, conservative, quality dress shoes and a casual collar shirt.

    I'm generally weary of people wearing suits. I see it as a superficial covering up in trying to sell you something. Generally not to be trusted.
    Suit wearing people these days are ..... real estate agents, car salesmen, lawyers, anyone in marketing, politicians. Get my drift?

    Ill make this simple, the CEO usually dictates the culture and dress code. Look them up & work out what the right attire is.

    Sometimes it's a suit, sometimes it's a suit without a tie, sometimes it's not. There are cultural and regional differences too - what is true for America isn't necessarily true for Australia. There are multiple differences when it comes to hiring practices.

    If I own a suit that fits, someone has dies recently.

    You can dress smart without a suit.

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