/ Job interview - dress code?
Due to graduate this year and i am going to start looking for a job.
Im wondering, having never had a job interview before, is a full suit really necessary?
Ive tried a few on from really cheap to quite expensive, none really fit as i am an odd shape and i feel like i am dressing for a funeral.
Would trousers, shirt, tie and a smart jacket be acceptable?
Spent the last 15 years on site digging holes and ive no idea what a potential employer will expect. Looking at the "meet the team" pages, not many seem to be fully suited.
Planning on working for an architects/surveyors - multi-disciplinary outfit.
Always safer to over dress. You won't be penalised for it, especially in the UK. Under dress and you'll have been binned the minute you go through the door.
I would go for over dressing rather than under dressing for an interview, you don't want to get sifted out before you open your mouth.
Have you tried Slaters? They will do alterations included in the price.
You may need to consider which jacket is best for your shape.
It depends on the company culture - if they are a particularly cool and edgy outfit, then wearing a suit might possibly be held against you. Generally though, it's a good idea to wear a suit for interview, and better to ditch the tie rather than ditch the suit.
It's worth going somewhere that will adjust the suit for you properly - more than just the sleeve and trouser length. TM Lewin were good in the past (haven't bought from them recently as the quality seemed to have dropped), and Hugo Boss are good too (though much more pricey). A good suit will last you a while - mine is over ten years old, and I wore it for my wedding this year after having the cut adjusted slightly.
Edit: Just seen Marsbar's post - Slaters have a reasonably wide selection, but their adjustments are a bit hit and miss in my experience - they take less time to find the perfect fit, and they're definitely at the cheap end of the spectrum (which is either good or not, depending on what you want).
The best rejection I ever heard for a candidate at our place was:
"Working here you only need to wear a suit once. You just blew it"
-edit: for my own interview I didn't wear a suit, but I did pre-warn them that it wasn't going to happen
It probably depends on the type of company and type of work. If you can visit a day or 2 before and observe how their staff dress - should give you pointers. If you are looking at architecture then perhaps add a bit of flare?
> Ive tried a few on from really cheap to quite expensive, none really fit as i am an odd shape and i feel like i am dressing for a funeral.
M&S is (or was?) good as you can mix and match trousers and jackets and certainly used to be good value. In terms of feeling comfortable in a suit think of it as camouflage ;-)
Thats what i was thinking...over thinking maybe.
Had a suit from Charles Tyrwhitt and TM Lewin, wasn't that keen to be honest, just took delivery of one from suit supply, expensive but i may keep it, seems to fit well and just needs the sleeves letting out.
The sizing is odd, im having to buy separates as i am a 32s trouser and a 42r jacket!
Buying a full suit off the rack and the jackets come with 36r trousers that drown me - hence my original question.
I'd agree with getting a suit but, unless you're a naturally outwardly confident person, don't wear it for the first time to your interview. Wear it out to dinner one day to get to know it, to get used to feeling comfortable wearing it, and to start owning it rather than it owning you.
> It depends on the company culture - if they are a particularly cool and edgy outfit, then wearing a suit might possibly be held against you. Generally though, it's a good idea to wear a suit for interview, and better to ditch the tie rather than ditch the suit.
Either a suit or very smart jacket and trousers. A tie is a good idea ... it can be stylish/interesting (and so say something about you: e.g. that you're a bit more fun than the suit implies.) Then, as you say, if you judge by the general vibes, other people around you, when you get there that you're overdressed you can just quickly take off your tie.
Suit. Try Brooktraverner usually 50% discount online. You can pick your sizes.
I'll go against the grain.
An ill-fitting suit that is really nothing other than a white shirt, black trousers and uncomfortable jacket leaves you looking like a teenager on work experience. Your best and favourite collared shirt, comfortable trou, and fancy shoes will likely present you better. Suits are not automatically more formal or appropriate.
I've never worked in architecture/surveying. But I've been working with them on a regular basis this last few months. Smart-casual seems to be the dress code and I'd be surprised if you'd be wearing more than that in the office. Pulling off your best outfit, regardless of whether its called a "suit" or not, with confidence may be a winner.
On the other hand, some (crap) interviewers may look askance at someone who they deem as "having not gone to the same effort" they have. While company culture might count for something, an employer that deems you unemployable because you were well dressed but not wearing a suit is maybe not a great employer. I've been on dozens of interview panels and if I ever cited the fact that an interviewee wasn't wearing a suit as a reason not to employ them I'd (rightfully) probably be binned myself.
Agree it's best to play it safe-i.e. wear a suit. Don't think you will get marked down for that (how edgy can an architectural outfit be?) But a decent suit will be pretty expensive and wearing a cheap/badly fitting suit will not do you any favours either. In which case I would hire the best quality suit I could find.
> I'll go against the grain.
Diversity eh? Such a horrible thing.
Here in Norway if you wear a suit they'll think you're over compensating and suspect you're hiding something.
Rubber chicken suit.
Get the job, don't get the job, who cares, they will never forget you.
Like many others on here I expect, I've been on both sides of the interview table. One thing you can be fairly sure of as an interviewer is that the candidates will never dress more smartly than they do at the interview. So if the job ever requires a smart suit - eg when meeting important clients - candidates do risk being marked down if they dress more casually at interview.
I'm sure that's not always the case, but it's unlikely you'll be marked down for dressing too smartly. As others have said though, don't be wearing the suit for the first time. You do need to feel comfortable in it.
As an aside, an early interview I attended was not for a job but for a place on an outdoor education course with Colin Mortlock (of Mortlock's Arete and lots of early first ascents in Pembroke). I enquired whether a suit would be appropriate for the interview and was told "yes, a wetsuit".
Get something a little bit tarty, you don't want too look like a stooge. As john arran said - own it!
This is about as far from my sphere of expertise, should such a thing actually exist, as one might imagine - but I suspect that when Mr Baldwin typed 'a bit of flare' he didn't actually mean 'flares'.
Right, so you aren't an odd shape as such, just healthy.
> Like many others on here I expect, I've been on both sides of the interview table. One thing you can be fairly sure of as an interviewer is that the candidates will never dress more smartly than they do at the interview. So if the job ever requires a smart suit - eg when meeting important clients -
This is important
You might not be explicitly marked down, but first impressions do count.
Go in your birthday suit, you will be fine.
You've nothing to lose from wearing a suit. Wearing it about the house for half a day or something could be helpful towards feeling at home in a new one.
Edit: What masbar says, you're not an odd shape, you're an 'active person's shape'.
I meant more in terms of the sizes of full suits with both parts that come together, manufacturers always seem to pair a 42 jacket with 36 trousers - called a "drop 6" apparently.
Thanks everyone - suit it is!
Maybe don't assume that overdressed is the best option, as it really does depend on the industry, company and culture that you're looking to work in.
Spend some time stalking/ looking at the LinkedIn/Facebook profiles of the company and industry that you're entering. Have a look at the photos that a lot of new employees share on their first day, and you'll be able to gauge the dress code.
I've always worked in media, videogames, cybersecurity, software testing and have never had to wear a suit. I've never discriminated against a candidate for being too formally dressed when I'm interviewing them, but it does suggest that the candidate may not be aware of the company or industry culture, which unfortunately, some people will view as a negative point. Obviously, some candidates will prefer the full suited and booted approach no matter what, and that's personal preference.
I've got the benefit of a) having worked for many years and b) I've been freelance for several years, so I've got the confidence of attending many interviews to be comfortable in gauging the suitable dress code.
If you can, spend a day before your interview watching people go in and out of the location you're interviewing at, as it may give you some great ideas as to how people dress for work. This might be tricky if the office or location is a shared office with several companies using the same entrance. If this is the case, try and clock any ID badges that people may be wearing (tip: find the smokers).
Good luck, I fully appreciate the dilemma that you're in, but try to remember that as long as you look as if you'd roughly fit in, and you aren't wearing clown shoes, then you're more than likely to be judged on what you say and how you handle yourself during the interview, rather than if you're wearing the wrong waistcoat
All architects and surveyors I work with wear chinos and shirt. Not tie. Casual jacket if needed. You’d be safe to go for a suit but wouldn’t look out of place in smart casual.
whatever you feel comfortable and confident in.
either way, you won’t win or lose the job on the back of what you wear. And if you do, it’s not a place you want to be working anywhere.
Took me a while to find a suit, climbers don’t do suits well slim waist broad shoulders aren’t common in your average office 😏
I was lucky I was able to pick up a suit at 60% of in the couloir I wanted and the shop had a tailor in a back room who advised me on the suit told me what adjustments he could make.
for a further £80 I got all the adjustments I needed
I now have a made to measure suit of Italian wool for less than £300
as long as can keep the climbing wall and running up it should fit me for a few more years.
if you are doing this the fit of the collar and shoulders needs to be right on the original suit as this is almost impossible to adjust
Go for a suit. I've never worked anywhere where I've needed to wear one to work, but I've always worn one to interviews where I've been successful. As someone says, it shows you can dress smartly and present yourself if required, and I think often counts in the eyes of the interviewer as having made an effort/being serious about wanting the job. Whether it should do or not is a different matter entirely. I think it's extremely unlikely that it will count against you.
It reminds me a bit of a candidate I interviewed recently who had a cv littered with all sorts of mistakes - spelling, grammar, formatting and punctuation. It wouldn't have been a problem if it had been a quickly written everyday internal email, but a cv is where you're supposed to be selling yourself and showing the best you can do.
As a surveyor of the chartered kind I'd say wearing a suit to an interview at an architects/surveyors practice would be a very sensible choice. Whilst it may depend on the particular company they will be judging you on how you present yourself to potential and existing clients, as someone quite junior in the industry better to be over dressed. I'd keep the tie until you start the job, thereafter you can probably get rid and dress down depending on company culture.
Shopping for a suit was just a nightmare, i went everywhere.
I ended up going to a custom tailor for some advice which was that if he was in the market for a suit and was buying off the rail then there isn't much out there that could better SuitSupply.
I admit to abusing their returns policy a little having bought over 10 suits and returned them all bar one.
My lecturer consults with a local well-to-do firm, ill ask him.
Ill keep both outfits - i do feel way more comfortable in the chinos, shirt, flannel jacket and tie though.
Although you've already bought some clobber, a couple of good tips I've always kept in mind are:
You'll (almost) never regret wearing a suit for an interview but there's nothing you can do if you turn up for the interview and then realise you should have worn one*.
It's better to buy a cheapish suit and get it tailored to fit properly than spend loads on something that looks like a sack of s****
Not one of the tips I heard, just my observation: get a soberish, classic 'ordinary-looking' suit and a decent pair of black leather shoes as oppposed to most people I see who are sporting a bright-blue affair with too-tight trousers atop a pair of awful pointed brown shoes. And choose a sensible tie, too, no comedy designs, cartoon characters, piano keys (back to the 80's!) etc
*I know someone who had an interview at a climbing equipment company, so dressed formally and sensibly, only to be faced with the interviewers wearing shorts and t-shirts. The interviewee was still glad to have dressed how they did and was awarded the job.
When you polish your shoes the morning of the interview, clean your nails with a nail brush afterward.
When you travel to the interview, don’t sit with your suit jacket on. You’ll crumple the back/“tails”.
When you have to wait in reception for someone to collect you for The interview , be wearing your suit jacket and DO NOT sit down.
Get a decent suit, you'll always need one for something. Surprised you've not needed one before, but you'll certainly need one even if it is for graduation. So get one you are comfortable in and proud of, and don't turn up gawky as though you've never worn one before. Unless you grow fat/thin it will last you a lifetime. Good investment.
Sorry, should have been addressed to the OP
"Get a decent suit, you'll always need one for something."
I've just retired and have never owned a suit, depending on your line of work you may/may not think you need a suit (I'm a scientist although spent the last 20 years working in an EU agency mostly advising the European Commission).
Wear a suit. Even the plumbers who come for interviews where I work wear a suit.
It shows that you pay attention to detail and conform to expectations.
I think the norms on this have changed significantly in the last ten years or so - I've done a dozen or so interviews this year and the only people who turned up in suits were the grad scheme applicants. I'm in the tech sector so probably more progressive than most but even in the "stuffier"* parts of our business most applicants skip the suit. I usually go for the standard wedding outfit - chinos and a jacket or a smart jumper if it's really relaxed.
There was an article doing the rounds a while back suggesting that in general dress standards are looser in businesses with more gender balance which chimed with my experience.
*Finance, exec etc.
I will be wearing soiled jeans and a t shirt when conducting an interview, but the expectation is that the candidate will be suited n booted, or dressed to impress, unless they have informed us before that this isn't going to happen - which is equally fine.
To be honest if the obviously best candidate turned up dressed as we were, they would probably get the job, but first impressions count and in event of a tie break, it's a definite factor.
Well, in large parts of my industry, the first impression of someone wearing a suit would be that they've not understood the culture and look a bit out of place. Yours may be different.
The OP said the interview was with a firm of Architects/Surveyors. Many surveying firms I come across are full of dinosaurs and whilst nearly extinct, a suit won't be out of place. I was interviewed recently and despite having years of surveying experience I wore a suit, got the position and now dress down in line with what happens within.
> Well, in large parts of my industry, the first impression of someone wearing a suit would be that they've not understood the culture and look a bit out of place. Yours may be different.
What industry do you work in? I'm in tech and even in roles where jeans and a t-shirt are basically the uniform I'd expect more people than not to wear a suit to an interview because a suit is What You Wear To A Job Interview. Moreover, while I'd hope that a good interviewer would look past the details of what someone was wearing, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that you'll get a someone who uses "can't be that serious about the job if they aren't putting a suit on for the interview" as a rationalisation for crossing someone off the list and saving themself the work of properly evaluating them.
> What industry do you work in?
Accountancy and financial services, that bastion of progressive attitudes.
> The OP said the interview was with a firm of Architects/Surveyors. Many surveying firms I come across are full of dinosaurs and whilst nearly extinct, a suit won't be out of place.
That's exactly the important bit. Base your decision on knowledge of yourself and of the industry/company, not on a hard and fast rule.
I'm with a central London Architectural & Engineering outfit. I wore a suit to the interview and the first day. It turned out it was traditional to let people turn up in a suit on day one and then feel massively overdressed.
Day two, jeans and a casual shirt.
I've only seen the head boss man in a suit once. That's when he was off to meet the queen.
Everyone always does the interview in a suit though.
Thats sounds odd, is it the norm to contact them prior to an interview to inform them of your attire?
Im not applying for grad schemes or advertised positions either - these are potential interviews where i already have a foot in the door, albeit very slight in some cases.
Still not convinced by the suit. I see the argument for it being a safe option, but in my experience it simply isn't expected (unless I was headed for a senior management or finance sector role).
In the panels I've been on (anything from finance to IT in higher education, + tech and NGO) people turned up in a wide range of outfits, from casual to suit-and-tie. While the "casual" stands out like dog's balls (though didn't directly impact decisions), I'd struggle to recall at the other end if someone wore a suit or "smart-casual" (chinos/cords/dress-jeans, collared shirt, jacket). They're almost indistinguishable when it comes to reflecting the wearer. People can look far more presentable, and much more relaxed, in "smart-casual" than they do in a suit. And unless the job requires a suit in the office, or is a classic conservative industry, I'd not expect someone to wear it at interview.
Judging candidates on whether they wear one or not is like judging someone on wearing a beard or women on their willingness to wear heels. It's antiquated and I'm surprised people appear so comfortable with the idea.
As an addendum, I've not worn a suit to an interview in two decades. If anyone would ever ask me at the interview why I hadn't the obvious explanation would be that, while I have one, I don't feel I look professional in it and given we're having an open and honest conversation I'd rather wear what I would typically wear when in the workplace or meeting clients.
Precisely because it’s is the conservative and safe option.
As I said, I'm not convinced. I get why people think its safe.
But on the other side of the table, once you've shortlisted hundreds of applicants, jumped the HR hurdles, it really doesn't feature at all. Plus if someone wears an outfit that is at odds with the culture, that looks stiff, and gives the appearance of...well...too much appearance...I suspect it can do as much harm as good if your interviewees are going to judge someone on their appearance.
An organisation that makes such judgements when they are at odds with the attire of the workplace clearly hasn't been too sharp on their E&D and implicit bias training.
> I'm in the tech sector so probably more progressive than most ..
...with the big exception of tech... computer sciencey startups being very male dominated and having the loosest dress standards ... T-shirts with weird slogans, cycling bib shorts, flip flops etc.
The most common ‘dressing up’ look I found was, for both sexes, smart black jeans and black polo neck or similar. “Employ me / buy my company, for I am the reincarnation of Steve Jobs”.
Invest in a suit. Births, weddings, funerals, job interviews, formal dinners - all sorted. If you aren't loaded look in charity shops.
Smart jeans is an oxymoron. Jeans are 19th century navvy work trousers
> I will be wearing soiled jeans and a t shirt when conducting an interview, but the expectation is that the candidate will be suited n booted, or dressed to impress, unless they have informed us before that this isn't going to happen - which is equally fine.
> To be honest if the obviously best candidate turned up dressed as we were, they would probably get the job, but first impressions count and in event of a tie break, it's a definite factor.
My expectation would be that candidates dress up a bit for their interview. Not necessarily a suit but something that at least shows they're making an effort. If someone turned up in what looked like they'd worn down the pub last night I'd spend some time in the interview trying to figure out whether or not they really wanted the job so it wouldn't automatically disqualify them but it would mean they had one more thing to prove than the guy that turned up all spic and span.
I really don't imagine many people have blown an interview by over dressing, Harvey Weinstein interviews excepted, but I imagine a fair number have missed out on a job by not making an effort.
> I really don't imagine many people have blown an interview by over dressing, Harvey Weinstein interviews excepted, but I imagine a fair number have missed out on a job by not making an effort.
On the other hand I wonder how many excellent candidates have been missed by companies due to wanting people to conform to an archaic and out of date dress code that is completely irrelevant to the job?
How about ringing up the company and asking the receptionist for their advice on what to wear - don't get put through to anyone. They see every candidate that comes through the door; never, ever, underestimate the customer-facing staff.
You have not told us in which area you are looking to work. That will help us give better advice.9
Cruise by the office a few days before, peer through the window and see how people are dressed then copy that. I've done this several times before, helps put your mind at ease too!
> Cruise by the office a few days before, peer through the window and see how people are dressed then copy that. I've done this several times before, helps put your mind at ease too!
The day to day dress code where I work is clean/non-scruffy trousers (jeans are OK as long as they're not festooned with pockets and random stitching, etc.) and a company shirt.
However, if something 'important' happens, that will be replaced by a suit and tie by the top level management and a general smartening up for everyone else.
If the company is interviewing someone for a fairly high up role, then the relevant manager and HR manager will invariably be suited and booted.
It's one day, why take the risk of being a rebel?
If there are two identical candidates on paper and in practical terms as revealed in the interview, then it might well be decided on small details and what the candidate is wearing might well that be that detail.
> I'll go against the grain.
> An ill-fitting suit that is really nothing other than a white shirt, black trousers and uncomfortable jacket leaves you looking like a teenager on work experience. Your best and favourite collared shirt, comfortable trou, and fancy shoes will likely present you better. Suits are not automatically more formal or appropriate.
> I've never worked in architecture/surveying. But I've been working with them on a regular basis this last few months. Smart-casual seems to be the dress code and I'd be surprised if you'd be wearing more than that in the office. Pulling off your best outfit, regardless of whether its called a "suit" or not, with confidence may be a winner.
> On the other hand, some (crap) interviewers may look askance at someone who they deem as "having not gone to the same effort" they have. While company culture might count for something, an employer that deems you unemployable because you were well dressed but not wearing a suit is maybe not a great employer. I've been on dozens of interview panels and if I ever cited the fact that an interviewee wasn't wearing a suit as a reason not to employ them I'd (rightfully) probably be binned myself.
I would agree. Having interviewed many people over the years, I've never been influenced by whether they've been wearing a suit or not. As long as they've made an effort to be smart (and I don't recall any interviewees not making that effort), I really wouldn't have cared.
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