For an upcoming interview, the VP of HR wrote to me in her scheduling e-mail (direct quote including punctuation and capitalization):

"We are business casual, and on Fridays allow jeans - so DO NOT feel compelled to wear a suit!" 

What would you wear? Advice please. 

A bit more background:

This is a final round of interviews for a VP role with a mid-sized company (~$500M) in the south central part of the U.S.  This firm is in industrial & electronic components, not finance, law, or any of what I would call a formal industry.  I will be meeting with the president of the company and his entire team of VPs.  The interview will include lunch off-site and several hours of meetings with the entire team.  

I'm in my late 30's and very comfortable in my own skin.  A VP role would be a pretty significant step up for me. My gut is telling me to wear a suit but no tie.  I think if I got any strange looks or questions over it, I could answer by saying, "I just couldn't imagine not wearing a suit to a meeting that is as important to me as this is, but at the same time I wanted to embrace the culture of CompanyX and so on VPofHR's advice I chose to tone down the formality just a bit."

Disclaimer: I've used my anonymous userID to avoid being recognized by colleagues on this site.

Gk26's picture

 I was once told I was almost eliminated from consideration because I two different suits to the two interviews and they thought I would not be a fit in their casual env.


That being said, I would wear a suit and tie if it was me.

cruss's picture
Licensee Badge

I would still wear a suit. I used to work for a tech startup where the dress code was "make sure your naughty bits aren't showing" yet our president regularly wore a suit and tie. He was often meeting with investors or clients. I wore a suit when I interviewed there to show that I could dress "up" if the occasion called for it. How would you feel if the president is in a suit and tie and you weren't?

Canyon R

donm's picture
Training Badge

I always wear suits to interviews, and as GK26 alluded to, I, too, always wear a different suit for each interview. If I were in your situation, I would probably wear a lighter summer suit - usually a lighter color as well as lighter fabric - instead of a gray pinstripe or dark blue, cuffed and pleated. It would be single-breasted, as well.

I might grab one of my old 1990-ish "fun" ties, but not my beloved Tasmanian Devil tie. Likewise, I might go for a more colorful shirt, instead, with a more sedate tie.  You have met with them at least once, so you should have a better idea how best to dress down slightly while still maintaining a professional appearance. I'd also shy away from wingtip shoes.

In any case, though, I'd wear a suit to any formal interview, regardless of the day or date, unless I was specifically told to dress down. You were given the option, not the requirement, to dress casually.

BariTony's picture

Wear a suit. I've been in plenty of interviews where it was perfectly acceptable for the interviewers to show up in jeans & T-shirt, but the candidate was expected to wear a suit. And I agree about wearing different suits if you can. (Make sure they're both good quality - it doesn't help to have one killer suit and the second make you look like you're a stuffed sausage!)

I've heard rumors of people being disqualified because they wore a suit and were perceived as being too formal, but I've never actually seen it or experienced it myself. In fact, it sounds so ridiculous that I suspect it's an urban legend.

VPfreedude's picture

 I assume you are interviewing on a Friday?

I currently am one of 4 VPs at a ~$500mm company with a "pants are required" sort of dress code.  We don't actually have a dress code but expect people to dress appropriately for meetings with the board or other outside parties.  Plenty of people wear jeans & t shirts to work however almost all of us keep a suit & tie at the office just in case.

With that background, i would recommend wearing a suit without a tie and role with your answer if anyone questions it.  I'd say something like "I'm professional enough to dress appropriately for external meetings and once I'm on staff here a meeting like this may justify dressing more casually".

Best of luck in the final meeting!








bookboss's picture

I echo the other responses here: Unless they specifically tell you <em>not</em> to wear a suit (or specifically what to wear), the rule of thumb is to always dress UP for an interview, never dress down. An interview is an occasion and should be treated as such. Acting like it's Casual Friday sends the message that the interview, and therefore the job, is not important to you. In your situation, a suit with no tie sounds fine, though if it was me, I would wear a simple tie just to be on the safe side.

Once you get hired, feel free to follow whatever is the cultural norm. But until you get hired, Casual Friday is only for the employees.


p.s. - I notice people talking about wearing two different suits to different (follow-up) interviews at the same company. *shrugs* As long as it's a nice-looking suit (read: <em>not</em> a "statement" suit) it probably doesn't matter. Just wear a different shirt and tie...Maybe change your hairstyle, eye color, dialect, etc. j/k j/k --- Wearing a different shirt and tie is fine.