I have an interview coming up where the instructions for the interview specifically said "business casual (no jeans) safety shoes". Understanding Mark's advice to "ware a suit!" is this still the best choice considering the directions? Would a sport jacket, a dress shirt, and dockers be equally as efficitive?

techmgr's picture
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On the phone with the CEO, who's inviting me to interview the next day, he said something along the lines of "we are casual, no need to wear a suit". I said something about wanting to put my best foot forward, and he said something I didn't quite catch but that started with "well, but..." And then he abruptly apologized that he had to run and hung up. As a woman, perhaps this is easier, but my decison was to not wear the suit jacket. I wore a button down collared shirt (a soft color) with very nice brown suit pants (wool dress slacks) and polished shoes and conservative jewelry and trench coat for pockets to keep my stuff. And it was perfect. I was still the best dressed one in the room, Which was my goal, and basically looked like them (3 men), who had chinos and casual collared shirts and polo tops.

If I were a guy, I would stick with the suit pants, perhaps navy or brown, something softer than black. Collared shirt and tie. And definitely good shoes. And wear the jacket as - a jacket i.e. a coat. You can take it off. But you need some place to put wallet keys etc anyway. Wait to hear from some men before you take my advice. But as a hiring manager, My advice is no chinos. Wear the suit, soften the colors a bit. Better to have the jacket and take it off, than to not bring it. Good luck!

davidcl's picture

I've worked in casual companies for most of my career.  I couldn't put it better than techmgr: follow the instructions to dress casually, but still be the best-dressed person in the room. 

Wear dress pants and a dress shirt.  Sport jacket optional (you can always take it off and drape it casually over the back of your chair).  Make sure everything looks good on you, fits well, and is impeccably clean and neat.  

Don't wear a suit.  If you can rock a casual tie and you're comfortable in one then go for it; if not then leave it off.  Wearing a suit when you've been explicitly told not to makes you look like an idiot and like you don't understand the culture of the company you're interviewing for.  People at my last company literally laughed at job candidates who showed up in suits.  (Sometimes they got hired anyway, but it definitely put them at a disadvantage).

Shoes may be a little bit of a challenge here:  I'm not sure what they mean by safety shoes--is this a manufacturing or construction business?  I'd find out specifically what they mean (Googling that phrase suggests it can mean either steel-toed boots or just hard-topped boots, and the answer may vary by the specifics of the industry).  Again, you've been given explicit instructions, follow them; if you aren't clear on what they mean by "safety shoes," that seems important enough that you should ask.  Regardless, you may need to buy new shoes for the occasion; don't wear scuffed up hiking boots from the back of your closet even if that meets their requirements.

ckstimson's picture

Thanks for your comments.

I decided to go with a blaser, tie, slacks and dress shoes.  I had my safety shoes in the can and when it came time for a plant tour I went to my car and changed shoes and left my jacket (I knew I was going to be wareing a reflective vest).  My interviewers were dressed casually.  I felt comfortable during the interview.

I didn't get an offer but looking back my attire didn't seem to be an issue or a focal point.

Gk26's picture

I wore a suit to my Amazon interview and wish I had not. Amazon has the "hipster" look with beards, ratty t-shirts with something printed on them, with maybe a blazer thrown over. I definately did not fit in

I also interviewed at Rackspace and was specifically told not to wear a suit. I did anyway because I did not have a sportscoat/pant combo.I received 11 hire votes out of 11 interviewers.

For the VP role I just accepted, I wore a blue suite, blue/white checkered shirt, and a red/blue tie. I typically would always wear a suit.

MaryPk's picture

You shouldn't wear a jeans, sport shoes, cap, t-shirt.