Hi all

I just got my interview instructions for an upcoming interview with a company that is known for a casual dressed CEO, and in general, a casual approach (though highly professional).

The interview instructions say: "The dress attire is business casual". I'm old school (though young) and feel like even as a woman I should always wear a suit to an interview. How do I follow these instructions AND wear a suit? After listening to the interviewing series, I have some ideas on this, but would love to get any further feedback from you brilliant people.


thanks in advance for anything!

maura's picture
Training Badge

Given that the interview instructions specifically say business casual, I would try to follow that while still showing I'm serious about the job... perhaps you could incorporate *components* of the suit but not the entire suit - maybe the suit pants/skirt, with a crisp white shirt, tasteful accessories, conservative shoes, and a cardigan or coordinating blazer (not the suit jacket)?

Solitaire's picture

As they have specifically requested business casual, I'd do exactly what Maura suggests.

There is a wide range of definition for business casual for a man, up to and including wearing a suit jacket and trousers/pants, a smart shirt, but no tie. As you're unlikely to wear a tie as a woman, I totally agree with the suggestion of wearing the suit skirt/trousers with a good quality blouse/shirt and co-ordinate with a smart cardigan and suitable accessories. I wouldn't go for a blazer, but that's possibly just my style!

Good luck at the interview!


GlennR's picture

With Maura and Solitaire. In fact Solitaire beat me to the punch with her second paragraph.

To add what I hope is value to this thread, I'd be very careful about violating their dress code. You know it's the smallest things that can disqualify an applicant in the early stages. I'm guessing they put that notice in there because they wanted to see if you are paying attention. If you dress above the code, they might perceive you as being unable to follow instructions, not team-worthy, or trying to be superior.

But within the limits of business casual, you have plenty of room. If I had the time and the opportunity, I'd park myself outside their office a few days in advance to see exactly how their staff define business casual. Then I'd shoot for just slightly above what I saw, but still considered business casual.

But that's because I'm influenced by that old saw from the 90's about dressing one step better than my customers or the company I was interviewing. That doesn't seem to apply here and is probably outmoded in other organizations as well.

mereinnz's picture

 Glenn-- I wish I could but the interview is out of my city-- I'm flying there for it (and its a huge building with hundreds of businesses)-- but thanks for the suggestions-- and great point about the smallest things being grounds for disqualification in the early stages!

Thank you Maura and Solitaire as well for the excellent ideas.


mereinnz's picture

 Hi all

I just thought I'd update you on this. Despite my better judgement which says "always wear a suit to an interview no matter what" I took your advice, and dressed in a nice silk blouse and suit pants. Glenn, your words "they want to see if you're paying attention", really resonated with me, and I think you were absolutely right. None of the panel were in suits, in fact three of them were in jeans and nice shirts, so although I felt slightly over-dressed, it wasn't the chasm that would have been created had I worn a formal suit.

The interviews went really well, and I know they did because I was comfortable,


So, excellent advice everyone, thank you!!

GlennR's picture

Glad we could help.

Solitaire's picture

and congrats on the interview.

Hope you hear back from them soon with an offer!

- Jane.

Mattias's picture

This is why the MT forums is so great.