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"over-dressing" for interviews

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
MikeF says it's a turn-off and LAGuy just made a point in another thread that showing up in a Kiton suit and Patek watch was almost akin to showing up in a polo shirt and jeans. Now maybe it's just me, but Patek watch aside, I really don't think that the interviewer is going to be able to tell an Oxxford (since their cuts are probablyy similar) suit from even a Brooks Brothers suit... If he doesn't know the difference, how can he be that turned off by it? When you walk in to someone's office properly dressed, I would think that they'd subconsciously take not of this and not look much further than that unless there's something specific that stands out and grabs their attention. You'll shake hands, then sit down and start the interview. I really don't think the interviewer will be doing an up-close inspection of your button holes to see if they're hand-sewn or not. Unless he feels your arm, in which case you probably won't want the job anyway;p, I highly doubt he'll be able to tell if the fabric of the suit you're wearing is a super 100 or super 180. Aside from the fact that your suit fits properly, I really don't see what easily identifiable characteristics would indicate to a person that doesn't know a whole lot about these types of things, that you payed 2k+ for it as opposed to even 1-1.5k for a Canali or something.. And lets not forget that the people that do the recruiting for investment banks are either associates who have shown promise and good judgement, or VPs. In either case they're easily making 150k+/yr and probably wearing a half-decent suit. It's not like you're walking in to their office wearing a top-notch suit and they're wearing something from men's warehosue or whatever it's called... So again, assuming they CAN recognize the difference, they might care. But in all likelihood, they won't be able to tell the difference. My brother has a black suit and if he's standing 5-10 feet away, unless you specifically look for things that distinguish my suit from his (mine cost 4x what his did) or touch the fabric, I really don't see how you'd know the difference unless you have a VERY keen eye for that sort of thing. Even with things like side vents, surgeon's cuffs and ticket pockets, it might tell him that it's possibly custom and not your run of the mill suit, but aside from that it's guesswork... Canali and Kiton differ by several thousand dollars in price, how is the average guy that doesn't pay too much attention to these things gonna know the difference? My answer is: he won't. Anyone else have thoughts on this?
post #2 of 26
My only thought, beyond the points that have been made on both sides of the argument, is this: The person who has ascended to the position of making hiring decisions for a firm to which you might apply for a job is not "the average man"; he (or she) is far more likely than a regular guy to recognize the quality of what you're wearing, if not the specific designer. How this will affect your chances of landing a position, I couldn't say. Personally, I've never once interviewed for a job where anyone would wear a suit.
post #3 of 26
You should always remember this: it may have taken your interviewer 30 or 40 years to get to the level they're at. It took them 40 years to be able to purchase the suit they're wearing or the house they live in. Many people are jealous of people who seem to be doing better than them, especially if that person is younger than they are. Having older relatives who have had to interview in the past, I can tell you of several instances where they'd come home and tell stories about "some young prick" they interviewed who "talked and dressed like he already had the job" (exact words). Whether or not your interviewer can name the maker of your suit isn't something you should assume. My uncle, who interviewed and I'm sure most people thought was a huge slob (t-shirt and jeans guy), could tell the difference between a Canali and an Armani from a mile away.
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Well I-banking isn't the typical job either. It's not the type of job where you have to wait in line for years and years to move up the ladder. A lot of people don't stay in it till they're 40 even... If you're good at your job, advancement is typically quite fast in terms of both pay and position. If you're not, you don't last. The turn-over and burn-out rates are quite high. Because of all this, it's quite common for VPs to be in their early 30s and making several hundred thousand per year. It's demanding, stressful work, which is compensated by high salaries and fast advancement. So again, is this type of person really going to care? IB interviews are grueling affairs, one would think that how you handle the interview in general would far outweigh what you're wearing. Anyway.. I'm still gonna get my suit, but I'll probably wear a different one to the interview just to be safe heh..
post #5 of 26
You don't have to show up in a Kiton suit to screw up an interview. Try wearing any well-fitted midnight blue suit with a white shirt, gold tie and white pocket square: a perfectly acceptable outfit for almost any profession, but apparently the outfit of a jackass for interview purposes (trust me, I've seen it). I think what it boils down to is this: beyond a certain point - i.e. a decent suit combined with a basic shirt and conservative tie - nothing one wears is going to help one's interview, though having gone overboard may very well hurt one's chances. No one making hiring decisions is going to move a candidate from the circular file to the "hired" file because his tie was a 7-fold. They may decide, however, to move a candidate from the "hired" pile to the circular file because his 7-fold tie made him "look" better suited to some other firm or like he didn't need the job anyway. As for whether anyone can tell that you're wearing Brioni instead of Brooks Brothers: do you really want to find out? Re: your comments about i-banking attire. The only analyst I know, a high school buddy of my brother, I believe wears suits to work. That may be his choice. The VPs, directors, etc. generally do not, at least from what I've seen. Attire of course varies with the occasion and the client.
post #6 of 26
Well, I'm about to embark on that interview phase too with similar types of companies (i-banking, consulting), and I posted my intended "interview uniform" to another forum. (For the record, it was as follows: matt aluminium eyeglasses by Bulgari; bespoke navy 3-button roll-lapel, side-vent, ticket-pocketed suit by Knize; bespoke white Swiss cotton cutaway-spread collar shirt with double cuffs by Zum Jockey Club of Vienna; seven-fold burgundy with navy and sky blue striped tie by Kiton; stainless steel watch with dark blue square face by Emporio Armani, bespoke matt aluminium cufflinks that match the glasses; white pocket square with hand-rolled edges in Swiss cotton; and black calfskin captoe oxfords by Ferragamo.) I was pretty roundly shot down. But I learned a lot through being humbled. No pocket square, for instance. Even though that rankles. And no French cuffs. Instead, I'll wear a white bespoke Turnback cuff shirt with a less extreme spread collar (I don't own a single-button cuff white shirt. Never saw a point to it.), and perhaps contacts instead of glasses (even though I hate them). My first round tie will probably be a Ferragamo instead of a Kiton, but not one obviously so. (No small repeating motifs, just a random pattern of square yellow dots on a burgundy backdrop.) The shoes I'll keep, unless I decide I have to wear the shell cordovan oxfords by Alden that I plan to buy as soon as I hit US shores again. The watch, too, just because I only own two and don't see a need to buy another one. (Unless I find a Chanel J12 on sale somewhere....) I'm still torn on the suit. Knize's silhouette, while not instantly recognisable in the US (to oversimplify, graft soft "Armani slouch" shoulders onto a Saville Row/Neapolitan silhouetee), still looks impressive. And the detailing (hand-picked sitiching on every edge or flap, inclusion of a ticket pocket, etc.) might be a bit much. I've only one cheap suit, but it's inappropriate for interviews, a two-button unvented deal made in the USA (but with a Burberry patch on the lining) in a Prince of Wales pattern that I bought at a thrift store. When I started "working" (nothing called work can be that much fun or that rewarding) as a short-term fellow at an international NGO last summer and started dealing with people who were either ruling their respective countries or making plans to do so in the very near future on a one-on-one, I bought some suits that made me dress in the same league as them. US excluded, senior politicians tend to dress extremely well. I am considering buying a cheap but still acceptable suit when I get to the States, and wearing that. It'll probably be a Corneliani or Canali. I'm just not a sack-suit kind of guy, so Hickey Freeman is pretty much out. I can't abide paying lots of money for "designer" suits, from A(rmani Collezioni) to Z(egna Soft), and Zegna's standard line strikes me as overpriced (~US$2000 for a Super 100s with a blocky silhouette when a Zegna Napoli in 15milmil15 is less than twice that? I don't think so.) so that pretty much limits me to the above. Once I prove myself at my job, I figure I can always start wearing my clothes again. And if the office is business casual, all the better because I prefer wearing wool trousers and a sportcoat to a suit anyway. And I have many more sportcoats than I do suits. I'm not too worried about being passed over for promotion. I just want to get a taste of the corporate capitalist world before moving on to law school and a JD or LLM, with the idea that a political science background coupled to business experience and legal expertise will give me all of the tools I need to play a role in the betterment of the common African. To finish off a too-long post, I'll be following the nature of the dress advice you get perhaps even more closely than you are. Peace. JG
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Having older relatives who have had to interview in the past, I can tell you of several instances where they'd come home and tell stories about "some young prick" they interviewed who "talked and dressed like he already had the job" (exact words).
Why would anyone go to an interview and not talk as if s/he "already had the job"? Or, to put it another way, why bother sitting through even one round of interviews for a job one doesn't expect to have? Is confidence really a bad thing in America today? Peace, JG
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Why would anyone go to an interview and not talk as if s/he "already had the job"? Or, to put it another way, why bother sitting through even one round of interviews for a job one doesn't expect to have? Is confidence really a bad thing in America today?
I think the distinction to make here is between confidence and arrogance. Confidence is being certain you're amply qualified for the job, and that the company would never have cause to regret hiring you. Arrogance is being sure you have the job in your ticket pocket. Only the former is an attractive (and thus helpful) quality. It's a rare instance when you are the only person being considered for a position. At any other time, it behooves you to remember that at least some of the other applicants are likely to be as exceptional as you are"”perhaps even moreso. When it comes down to choosing between similarly exceptional candidates, the interviewer will almost certainly weigh the odds in favor of whomever s/he likes most, personally. And, in personality contests, humility beats hubris virtually every time. People interview for jobs they don't expect to have because they need and/or want the job, regardless of whether they're absolutely certain there are no better candidates. If they only applied for positions they knew they would get, then they'd only be applying for positions for which they were so over-qualified that no real competition would bother. Which is to say, they wouldn't really be applying themselves at all. Simply being relaxed and positive during an interview conveys confidence in a way interviewers the world over"”even in America"”can appreciate. Exhibiting a sense of manifest destiny, however, is likely to lead to a rudely surprising outcome.
post #9 of 26
Trying to be absolutely exquisitely attired and polished is not in anyones interest during an interview IMO. You shouldn't dress to impress in something obviously luxurious or highly sophisticated. You need that effortless, dependable, down-to-earth look. Don't look as if you're trying very hard to be perfect and co-ordinated. You don't want the interviewer to think you're a snob or obsessed with your appearance. One more thing: Try not to wear anything brand new, especially shoes. It looks much better to have an old pair of well polished shoes than new ones in this situation. Turning up all shiny and new may suggest you're trying too hard or have just bought a look. Once again, you'll want to look stable and dependable.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
matt aluminium eyeglasses by Bulgari; bespoke navy 3-button roll-lapel, side-vent, ticket-pocketed suit by Knize; bespoke white Swiss cotton cutaway-spread collar shirt with double cuffs by Zum Jockey Club of Vienna; seven-fold burgundy with navy and sky blue striped tie by Kiton; stainless steel watch with dark blue square face by Emporio Armani, bespoke matt aluminium cufflinks that match the glasses; white pocket square with hand-rolled edges in Swiss cotton; and black calfskin captoe oxfords by Ferragamo.)
That is one HELLACIOUS outfit. Wow.
post #11 of 26
I am, as usual, impressed by the maturity, incisiveness and evenhandedness of pstoller's reply. Arrogance and self-confidence are different animals. If you are ever in Pasadena, you'll have to let me buy you a drink.
post #12 of 26
Joe G., I really liked your original outfit, although it was clearly unsuitable for a job interview. In fact, it's probably acceptable for work only at senior levels, where your obviously fine clothing would be more an eccentricity than the focus of office resentment. Love the glasses though. BTW, I looked at the ic-berlin. site, and rather liked it. If that is your taste, you might want to check out LaFont, or YSBS (my most recent discovery, and an L.A. company) when you come to the States. I'd also like to point out that Hickey-Freeman, Canali or Corneliani suits, retailing at about $1000-$1200 apiece, are considered "cheap" suits only in Bizarro world. I'm sure that you are aware that the per capita income in Nigeria is ~ $300 (or at least, was in 2000), and the purchasing power adjusted GNP is $740 (also 2000), and that over 70% of all Nigerians live under the poverty level. The numbers for Africa as a whole are less bleak only by comparison. I would like to see you explain to the "common African" how Canali suits are cheap. I know that you are interested in weal of the common African. On the ground level, NGO workers toil on miniscule budgets and in extremely adverse conditions, risking (literally) life and limb for (sometimes literally) nothing. A large fraction of African countries are ruled by what used to called "Robber Barons" in the west, who live extravagant lifestyles while their countries struggle under corrupt government, incompetent resource management and crippling foreign debt (if I remember my facts correctly, Nigeria owes the Paris group nearly $30 billion). So I would emphatically NOT look to those "senior politicians" as role models. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that you should feel guilty for being born into the fortunate situation you were; and I believe that you are genuinely concerned for "the common African". But neither should you make careless statements about how "cheap" suits are that are beyond the reach of most Europeans and Americans, not to mention Africans and Asians. Really poor people make do without the luxury of worrying about niceties like hand stitched lapels and floating canvas fronts. Go incognito into the field with the engineers and doctors and nurses who really get things done, and then see how you can really make a difference at the administrative levels of NGOs.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
If you are ever in Pasadena, you'll have to let me buy you a drink.
Heck, I'm there all the time; I work out at Equinox in Paseo Colorado. (Although, lately, I've been reallocating gym time to wedding vendors.) Anyway, we'll definitely have to hang some time, although it'll probably have to wait until after I'm hitched. Thanks.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Curious, how much did that Knize bespoke suit cost you?
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Trying to be absolutely exquisitely attired and polished is not in anyones interest during an interview IMO. You shouldn't dress to impress in something obviously luxurious or highly sophisticated. You need that effortless, dependable, down-to-earth look. Don't look as if you're trying very hard to be perfect and co-ordinated. You don't want the interviewer to think you're a snob or obsessed with your appearance.
This is precisely the point I was getting at in my original comments to GQgeek, although you've articulated it much better than I did. I agree 100%.
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