QUESTION: Is it OK to dress casually for an interview if the company culture is informal and laid-back?
Every interview is a business meeting no matter how casual the culture and environment the business operates in. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make it count and make it memorable. Dress for success!
Even if a company prides itself on being informal and laid-back, it’s always best to dress at least one level up for the interview. Remember, you can always ask the interviewer for advice on how to dress, do some reconnaissance work to see how the employees are dressed, and make sure you select an outfit that’s one level up.
For interviews, I always recommend business attire. Save the casual attire for when you actually get the position and are taught the culture as an employee not an applicant. You want to appear to the hiring official that you came to conquer the interview and you mean business. Once you get the position and are comforted to their ongoing way of life, then adjust your attire accordingly.
A Silicon Valley manager once told me how a candidate didn’t get the job, because he showed up in suit & tie, even though he was told to dress casually for the interview. If they don’t tell you how to dress, don’t be
afraid to ask; they’ll appreciate your asking. Finally, it never hurts to dress just a bit above (shirt & tie for men; nice blouse & skirt for women) the observed dress code.
The accepted rule of thumb that today’s career coaches and hiring directors generally suggest, is that you
dress for your interview at one level above the manner in which you would dress for the actual position. In this case, if the company culture is informal and laid back, where people may wear jeans to work, I would recommend arriving for your interview in neat business casual attire.
It depends. As a former startup executive, we always knew that the guy who showed up in a suit wasn’t going to fit in with our shorts and sandals culture. My advice – ask the recruiter or hiring manager that’s scheduling the interview. Try, “I generally default to business attire unless you have a different preferred dress code for candidates.” If they want something else, they’ll tell you.
I have worked at several such companies and have always expected the candidates to dress up for the interview- business professional and well groomed! You are trying to make a very positive first impression, so the way you look should enhance your marketing of you. Only if you are specifically told NOT to dress up should you consider business casual dress for the interview. Good luck!
It is acceptable to dress less formally when interviewing at a company that is more casual. However, that does not mean you should detract from looking sharp and professional. You should dress to “fit in” with the general company attire. Make sure your clothes are neat, clean, fit well, and look good on you. It’s recommended that you dress a “notch above” what everyone else is wearing.
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