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I had a successful first interview earlier this week, decked out in my most confidence-inspiring suit. I've been invited back to meet with the rest of the folks, and was told that they'd be fairly informal meetings, not formal interviews, and that I could dress casually.

So should I dress casually? How casually? The people at the office were on the casual end of business casual (polos and khakis), but I'm wondering if I should dress it up a bit, anyhow.

I'm going to be most closely watched for my fit with the rest of the team, so I really don't want to alienate anybody, but I also firmly believe that wearing the suit is a statement of intent to get the job.

Thoughts?

bffranklin's picture

Nik,

They said you could, not that you should. Wear a suit! Let 'em know off the bat that you take this seriously.

thaGUma's picture

[quote]I've been invited back to meet with the rest of the folks, and was told that they'd be fairly informal meetings, not formal interviews, and that I could dress casually.[/quote]
If I specifically told someone to dress casually, and they turned up in a suit - no.

If I were in that postion. Avoid khakis/chinos and polo. Go for 'smart casual'. Good plain shirt, short sleeves ok. Jumper ok. No tie. Belt and trousers. Plain dark suit trousers but worsted wool or similar will be better. If there are pockets on the knees put it back! Footwear brown shoes rather than black formal shoes, no moccasins. No jewellery still applies.

Good luck.

Chris.

jhack's picture

Tough test they've given you here... It's "can you fit in" vs. "are you a high end professional"?

One reason to wear a suit is to prove that you can wear it well when you need to. You've proven that.

What, exactly, were they wearing when you interviewed? If they were in chinos, go chinos - pressed smartly, tailored to fit. You should be a notch or two above their understanding of casual. (trust me: Connecticut casual is not the same as California casual!)

Dress it up a bit. Dark blue suit [i]and[/i] tie might be too much; lose the jacket or the tie, but not both. Show that you care, show that you're serious, and show that you still fit in...

Good luck.

John

Nik's picture

[quote="jhack"]Tough test they've given you here... It's "can you fit in" vs. "are you a high end professional"? [/quote]

I like to think I've already proven the latter. ;)

But yes, it is a tough test, and one that shows how savvy my interviewer is. Having a crack team means more than just raw skills and experience -- it's also having people who can challenge and support one another without devolving into childish politics and one-upmanship.

So he's got two candidates with the chops, and now he gets to pick his favorite. If the other candidate's (almost) as good as me, he's got the best job in the world right now. (observe my modesty!)

[quote]What, exactly, were they wearing when you interviewed? If they were in chinos, go chinos - pressed smartly, tailored to fit. You should be a notch or two above their understanding of casual.[/quote]

Chinos, khakis, polos, and a few long-sleeve button-downs.

I share the instinct to dress up a bit more than the people I'm interviewing with. Even if I don't have a suit, it does show that I'm taking this seriously.

My plan at present is to go with trousers and a blazer (both tailored, neither black) and a simple button-down shirt. I figure I can lose the blazer and roll up my sleeves if I need to look more like "one of the guys."

HMac's picture

Nik - your plan for dress sounds right.

Now, to the meat of the follow-up. The way you describe it, this seems to be about "fitting in with the group." I can imagine a brief check-off with the group following the meetings: Hiring Manager: "What did you think of them?" Something reallly loose like that.

The problem I've experienced is people giving input to the hiring manager are tempted to give BOTH a positive AND a negative. We seem culturally conditioned to do so - like we're not tough enough if we only praise.

I don't have any surefire advice about this, other than to focus on your relationship-building skills, most especially: LISTENING. Yes, they're probably going to expect a bit of a monologue from you about yourself, your background, and why you're interested. But make sure to ask them questions, and to really make a show of active listening (nodding, smiling, eyebrows up, feeding back, etc).

That's probably the best way to achieve your immediate objective, which is to do do everything you can to get them to feel like you're a good fit.

Good luck!

-Hugh

ctomasi's picture

Nik,

My recommendation is a light blue, long sleeve, button down shirt, tan or khaki pants. If tan pants: brown shoes and belt. If khaki: black shoes and belt. Be sure the shirt is not full of wrinkles. Remember, you are still interviewing.

If you want to look more "casual" you can always roll the sleeves up to the forearms (I'm sure someone is going to cringe at that idea) - it gives you an option based on an on-the-spot judgment call.

thaGUma's picture

[quote]If you want to look more "casual" you can always roll the sleeves up to the forearms [/quote]
You are right Chuck - I am still cringing. :P . Long sleeves should stay long unless you are actually doing something that needs the sleeves to be out of the way.

It might be different in the US, in the UK you may as well roll up your trousers and wear flip flops :wink:

Chris

ctomasi's picture

Chris,

Thanks for the info. You may have saved more than one of us a from an embarrassing situation.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Informal interviews and casual dress are two entirely different issues.

I would wear a sport jacket and tie. It is very easy to delayer. And have the comment practiced "I know you said casual. I have another function right after this that is a little more dressy. Do you someplace I could leave my jacket and tie?"

This shows good decision-making and a willingness to "fit in".

*RNTT

Nik's picture

Thanks for the tips, all. I realize I'm totally micro-obsessing over this interview, but it's pretty much my dream job, so I can't seem to help it.

And, asteriskrntt1, that line won't work too well since it's an all-day visit. Hard to get by with the "I'm wearing my evening-wear through the workday, today" line. :)

asteriskrntt1's picture

Nik, it is not difficult at all

I often have to run to volunteer events and board meetings right from work.... it is not a ridiculous preposition.

*RNTT

HMac's picture

Nik: Understand your micro-obsessing completely. And you might be running in circles a bit.

Look back a few posts to your own post...

[quote]I've been invited back to meet with the rest of the folks, and was told that they'd be fairly informal meetings, not formal interviews, and that I could dress casually. [/quote]

...and the posts that immediately followed it.

You'll be fine.

-Hugh

Lincon's picture

An interview is a way for an employer to see what he or she will get if they hire you. It is crucial that you are well prepared. There are many things that you can do ahead of time to prepare for the interviewing process, and move yourself a step above of the competition.

Lincon

[URL=http://www.smartloc.net"]WideCircles[/URL]

tomw's picture

[quote="jhack"]Dress it up a bit. Dark blue suit [i]and[/i] tie might be too much; lose the jacket or the tie, but not both. [/quote]

I was about to write almost these exact words.

kklogic's picture

I echo Chris' comment. We're pretty casual. If we specifically told an interviewee that it was casual and they came in a suit, we'd question fit. There are some great "in between" options mentioned here. A sport coat and nice pants (sans tie) is always a smart look.

asteriskrntt1's picture

And as per usual, the person who asks the advice doesn't follow up and let the community know what happened. Sigh.

*RNTT