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What to wear for an interview with a CEO of a small start-up tech company

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Greeting everyone!

 

This is my first post and I was wondering if anyone can help me out.  I got a 2nd interview tomorrow with the CEO of a small but new company (around 20 people). They are a tech company that also deals with medical aspects.

 

For my 1st interview, I wore a suit (full on business formal) since I didn't know what to expect.  I found that the company culture is very relaxed and people were actually dressed casual to downright comfortable.  I had two interviewers that day.  The first interviewer, the product manager, wore a casual outfit.  The 2nd interview, CFO, she wore a stylish business casual outfit.

 

I read that you need to match your outfit with the company culture but this is the CEO that's interviewing me tomorrow.  I was thinking of suit but skipping the tie.  What do you guys think?

 

Thanks for the help!

post #2 of 21

Wear a suit.  A professional looking suit, with a tie.  I'm a software engineer as well and I have been working at small startups for the past eight years.  I always wear a suit.  There's no downside to it, only a potential downside to not wearing it.  Even at a casual place, they'll expect you to be in a suit (I would if I were interviewing you).

 

Look at it this way; if they don't hire you because you wore a suit to the interview, does that sound like a place you'd want to work anyway?

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the quick reply.  It is better to be over dressed than under.  And I guess if they thought I was too uptight for wearing a suit in the first interview, they wouldn't have called me back for a 2nd.  

post #4 of 21
That's right, for interviews it would be best to wear something smart and a suit and tie always work.
post #5 of 21
What is different about this interview than any other? Suit and tie and do not insult the CEO by even thinking otherwise. Should he invite you to a third informal meeting, in the invitation for which he uses the word 'informal' then you could consider something else.
post #6 of 21

It doesn't matter what the company culture is because you don't work there. You should avoid the source that gave you the info about "matching your outfit to the company culture." Wear a solid grey (or blue) suit with a white shirt and a tie with a blue, red or yellow base.

post #7 of 21
Whatever you do, don't wear a suit sans tie to "dress down" your suit. Wearing a suit is fine, and it sounds like wearing business casual is fine (despite what others have said), but attempting to blend the two is just silly.

Above all, relax and wear something that makes YOU feel comfortable and confident. Based on what you have said about the company, I guarantee that as long as you look vaguely presentable your clothes will neither help nor hurt your chances.
post #8 of 21

Navy suit, best to avoid blue or red ties right now with political tension so high.

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollotrader View Post

Navy suit, best to avoid blue or red ties right now with political tension so high.

Surely you're joking about the tie thing...
post #10 of 21
It's hard to imagine that wearing a suit and tie to an interview would be seen as anything but respectful.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonny58 View Post

It's hard to imagine that wearing a suit and tie to an interview would be seen as anything but respectful.

+1. Unless you've been asked to not wear a suit or to come in something more casual, wear the suit. Suits should also always be worn with ties.
post #12 of 21

What I've found at a lot of young startups these days is that the CEOs can be downright stylish.  There's a hipster subculture of techies emerging, especially if the company is average aged in the mid-30s to 40s.

 

You've been there twice.  If you notice a somewhat quirkier atmosphere and if it's also part of your personal style, you could dress your suit up with some character - colorful socks or a less conservative tie.  This works to be your benefit in a couple of ways - you show that you're not a suit, you have some personality, and you become memorable.  It's your judgment if this company's culture might be open to this.  

 

Google the CEO and see how he dresses in public.  

post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by archibaldleach View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollotrader View Post

Navy suit, best to avoid blue or red ties right now with political tension so high.

Surely you're joking about the tie thing...


Well since I happen to know CEO's that when faced with a layoff are picking the employees who have Obama stickers on their cars for termination, then, no I am not kidding.

post #14 of 21
When I was a CTO I wore a sport coat and slacks (unless I was meeting with a client), and the CEO wore sandals most of the time with shorts or chinos. Whenever we interviewed an applicant for an IT position (we were a software development firm in the Medicaid space) we were pleasantly surprised when they showed up in a suit and tie. It showed us that the person was serious about getting the job.

You are not a participant in the corporate culture as an applicant, and pretending to do so comes off as presumptuous if not pretentious. You are not part of the club, so don't dress like you are. Dress like an applicant that is serious about getting the job.

That being said; We almost always hired based on skill set and personality, not attire. Wear a suit and tie, but most of all be personable and know your stuff.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by raggedsweater View Post

What I've found at a lot of young startups these days is that the CEOs can be downright stylish.  There's a hipster subculture of techies emerging, especially if the company is average aged in the mid-30s to 40s.

You've been there twice.  If you notice a somewhat quirkier atmosphere and if it's also part of your personal style, you could dress your suit up with some character - colorful socks or a less conservative tie.  This works to be your benefit in a couple of ways - you show that you're not a suit, you have some personality, and you become memorable.  It's your judgment if this company's culture might be open to this.  

Google the CEO and see how he dresses in public.  

You do not want to be described as "crazy sock guy" by people deciding who to hire after an interview. This can potentially be very dangerous. Unlike notch vs. peak lapels or some of the other little things we debate here, loud socks will get noticed and not necessarily in a good way. If you need loud socks to show that you have a personality, you have bigger problems. What you are suggesting is a high risk strategy with slim reward (the person has to both like what you did and consider it a positive in your favor).

As for the tie, depends what you mean by less conservative. If this gets too noticeable, it can also be a problem.
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