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What to wear to an interview in a casual office

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have an interview tomorrow for a place with an academic research environment. I've interviewed in this field before and worn a suit, but the people I interviewed with were wearing short sleeved shirts and khakis. In one organization, people were wearing jeans. I've always felt overdressed.

Instead of my navy suit, I was thinking about wearing my navy suit jacket as a blazer with charcoal pants, black shoes and belt, white shirt, and a blue tie. What do you think? I could take off the jacket if they are wearing jeans.
post #2 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dt4540 View Post
I have an interview tomorrow for a place with an academic research environment. I've interviewed in this field before and worn a suit, but the people I interviewed with were wearing short sleeved shirts and khakis. In one organization, people were wearing jeans. I've always felt overdressed.

Instead of my navy suit, I was thinking about wearing my navy suit jacket as a blazer with charcoal pants, black shoes and belt, white shirt, and a blue tie. What do you think? I could take off the jacket if they are wearing jeans.


I think that's a workable plan. If it's really a jeans environment, a suit is too much. At the same time, you're not yet an employee and need to look like you're taking it seriously. I think a blazer/trousers/tie would fit the bill nicely.
post #3 of 17
I'd play it safe and wear a full suit instead of the odd blazer. I am a firm believer full suit and tie during an interview at all times. Wait until you get the job before you start dressing down. There are companies that have employees wearing jeans and tee shirts to the office who expect people to wear a suit during an interview. Better safe than sorry.
post #4 of 17
Wearing the suit or jacket is the safe choice as I'm sure everyone will tell you. However, I have been involved in interviews at a business where the official dress code was business casual, yet nearly half the employees wore jeans and from what I observed there would often be more risk to being overdressed than you might think. Whenever an applicant was overdressed relative to us, an attitude would frequently develop among the interviewing team that the new person wouldn't "fit in" to our environment. Basically the members of the interviewing group would have more difficulty visualizing the person as a co-worker and peer if they dressed significantly differently. And if the applicant dressed in a full suit and actually looked well put together and stylish, then it would often be the death blow for them! In such cases everyone seemed to think the person not only did not fit in, but was possibly arrogant, clueless, and aloof! If I were you I would try to find out how they dress at this organization and then dress one step higher. Can you somehow visit there and see for yourself? Or maybe even park in the parking lot around quitting time and watch the people going out to their cars and then judge for yourself, etc. I would not trust what some HR drone says since they may only provide a canned "official" response which may not be accurate. If you're certain jeans and chinos are the norm, then I would simply wear the pants, a nice shirt, and skip the jacket and tie.
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dt4540 View Post
I have an interview tomorrow for a place with an academic research environment. I've interviewed in this field before and worn a suit, but the people I interviewed with were wearing short sleeved shirts and khakis. In one organization, people were wearing jeans. I've always felt overdressed. Instead of my navy suit, I was thinking about wearing my navy suit jacket as a blazer with charcoal pants, black shoes and belt, white shirt, and a blue tie. What do you think? I could take off the jacket if they are wearing jeans.
They are wearing casual because they already have a job You should wear a suit. Wearing a suit is standard procedure to an interview. A pocket square would be over-doing it, in my opinion, and therefore not necessary. Get hired first. Wear a suit on your first day of work. Probably someone on that first day will suggest you dress the same as they do. Then you are free and clear to dress casual. That is my advice. Best of luck on the interview.
post #6 of 17
The other applicants will be in a suit, no? If so, how does that effect your presentation?
post #7 of 17
I recommend wearing a suit. Best to risk overdressing and distinguishing yourself in a good way than underdressing a distinguishing yourself in a bad way.
post #8 of 17
I agree with BB1. I've been on lots of interview committees in an academic environment and there is a definite risk in overdressing - the "fit" issue arises in all sorts of unconscious ways. So split the difference: blazer, nice pants, good shoes, dress shirt, tie optional. I've also seen people wear suits without ties (I know that is a frowned upon look here) and that has worked too. You need to signal that you're not "corporate". Lots of ways to do that; choose one. Charlies
post #9 of 17
I say wear a suit. Even if the environment is casual, a suit tells them that you're serious about getting a job.
post #10 of 17
A suit is probably too much for this environment, perhaps just a nice shirt and tie or just a dress shirt and some nice slacks.
post #11 of 17
Unless you're going to be demonstrating that you can change the oil in a car or wrestle a bear, I can't imagine anyone faulting you for overdressing. Even if you'd never ever wear a suit to the actual job, they would expect your best foot forward and shouldn't be weirded out by you dressing up. Underdressing is the only crime. Well, that and murder, but hey.
post #12 of 17
Academics generally don't wear suits.

The more "scientific" the department, the worse they dress. Depends on the institution, your age, nature of the role. A suit might be acceptable / required in some cases, but i would guess a sports jacket with tie and non-jeans trousers would be a safer bet? Your suggestion re just using the suit jacket sounds sensible.

You want to look respectful and that you take the interview process seriously, but you don't want to look like a plonker who won't fit in. A pin-stripe "city" suit would definitely look wrong.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bowtielover View Post
A suit is probably too much for this environment, perhaps just a nice shirt and tie or just a dress shirt and some nice slacks.

I would go the dress shirt and nice slacks route too. Be sure to cap it off with a nice pair of loafers.
post #14 of 17
suit all the way
post #15 of 17
Voted blazer and fairly conservative pants. Tie is optional but I'd think more acceptable if colorful (not business conservative). Blazers are relatively casual and about the level academics "dress up" for presentations and such. Seems like your best should match theirs. edit: Just remembered my original answer. If you know someone in the office ask them, otherwise talk to the interviewer or at least the HR representative. Be forward but explain graciously.
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