Is Formal Attire Still Necessary for an Interview?

Is Formal Business Attire Still Necessary for an Interview?

A lot of offices in New York have done away with the buttoned-up suit and tie dress code that has always been so common.  What does this mean for people who are interviewing with these companies?  Should you still be dressed in business attire for an


The answer, as with most things is a resounding, “it depends.”  It depends on several things like where you are interviewing, who you are interviewing with, and even your personal choices.  Some people feel more comfortable in a business setting wearing nicer clothes.

Some businesses still require business attire, and some people still prefer it

One candidate we spoke with talked about wearing a suit to an interview at a company that was known to be laid back.  He called his suit his "armor."  In good looking, well-fitting clothes, he would say, you feel like you can do no wrong. Your confidence level rises, and you feel ready to meet with anyone up through the CEO.

While most offices have adopted a more casual dress code, this is not the case for every business in New York.  There are still plenty of organizations where the dress code calls for business attire complete with jacket and men are expected to wear a tie.  If you are interviewing and you are comfortable with a more formal corporate culture, you should be dressed your best when you appear for the interview.

What about companies with a more casual corporate culture?

Some companies have a more relaxed attitude.  However, new employees are still expected to put their best foot forward.  In a lot of cases, when you are dealing with a larger organization, you are being interviewed and even judged by several people all looking for different things.
When in doubt, wear business attire.  It never hurts to look your best when you are there specifically to impress people.

Sometimes there is such a thing as being overdressed

There is the other side of the coin when the buttoned-up look is too much.  For a lot of startups and new companies with owners who tend to be younger, the formal business attire is most likely not necessary.  If you are unsure, you can always ask.  Ask your recruiter or ask the representative you are scheduling the interview with if business casual is acceptable and they will let you know.
Even in situations where you can dress down, don't think that means you can go to your interview in jeans and a t-shirt.  The most casual you should go is still business casual with khakis, a polo shirt or a button-down.  The general rule is that you should dress better than the everyday dress code.

 "Dress to Impress" might mean different things to different companies.

Some offices have no real dress code, and people do wear shorts and t-shirts to the office.  It is best not to guess what you should wear.  Ask for guidance.  Even in offices where the atmosphere is completely casual, you still want to impress the interviewers.  However, you also don't want to be seen as too formal or stiff.  If they feel that you do not fit into their culture, they may pass on you even though your other qualifications are all there.

Better to be safe with business attire, but you can have a Plan B

It used to be that regardless of the company, you wore your best suit to an interview.  Suits never go out of style, and in most cases, it is better to overdress than to underdress.  However, If you get to an interview and you see that you are overdressed, you can always take off the tie or the jacket.   If you are underdressed and you get to the office and know that you are out of place, then you may have a problem.  

Dress code and interview dress are not as cut and dry as it used to be.  Also, remember that an interview is your chance to interview the company as well.  If the company culture requires suit and tie, and you are not a suit and tie type of person, then the company might not be for you.  If you know you will never be comfortable in more formal business attire, then you have your answer.