Is it necessary to wear a suit to a Private Girls School job interview?
October 22, 2008 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Is it *completely necessary* to wear a suit to a Private Girls School job interview?

I've just emigrated to Australia sans suit and have a job interview at a private school coming up. Normal practice would of course see me in a suit for this interview, but normal practice would have shot my excess baggage limit!

How much of a faux pas is it to go without a suit jacket to this one?

I intend to wear a rather nice shirt and tie, with shined shoes and a spiffy new hair-cut...
posted by man down under to Work & Money (20 answers total)
When I worked for a university assisting students with their practicums, there was a minimum standard of dress shirt, tie, good pants, shoes etc for prac students. As an interviewee, you can do it without the suit (they won't refuse you entry), but it will cost you. I wouldn't risk it. You are more likely to get away with it the further north you travel, that is, north of Brisbane. In the southern states, nah.
posted by b33j at 4:05 PM on October 22, 2008

I teach at a private girls school in NYC. I think if I'd arrived at the multiple interviews in anything other than a suit, I wouldn't have been offered the job. If you want the position, its worth picking up an affordable new suit. Maybe Australia is a bit more relaxed about this sort of thing though.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:07 PM on October 22, 2008

posted by zpousman at 4:10 PM on October 22, 2008

Best answer: Yes, it is completely necessary to wear a suit to your interview.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:16 PM on October 22, 2008

Can you at least get a blazer, if not an actual suit?

My company is very casual, but I've still heard prospective candidates get dinged if they show up to an interview without a suit. It comes across as a lack of effort to some people, I think: "jeez, guy couldn't even be bothered to dress up a little..." I think this is a fairly common reaction anyplace where wearing one would be the norm, unless you planned on explaining yourself.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:21 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think that job interviews are the one time that the phrase "Dress to Impress" isn't just a throwaway cliche. It's ultimately up to you to determine what clothing will make the best impression.

Maybe you don't need a suit. Maybe just a nice blazer.
posted by mintymike at 4:24 PM on October 22, 2008

I have attended and worked at Private Girls Schools in Melbourne and Brisbane (Not a Teacher), and I would make every effort to have a suit. Unless they deliberately emphasise the lack of formality at the school (or sometimes if it's 40degrees), your interviewers will almost certainly be in suits. Not matching their dress standard may impact your own confidence, and make them wonder if you realise what working at This Private Girls School means (being private schools, some of them are pretty precious). The level of this slightly depends on how rich/well-known your school is, though.

I think it is still possible for you to get the job without a suit, however, and I would start the interview by apologising for the lack of suit jacket due to airlines/travel/etc if you don't wear one and everyone else is formally dressed. It partly depends where you are - if it's cold enough that you need a jacket, it would look funy to not make it a suit jacket. If you don't need a jacket at all, you'd be ok. (Which aligns with b33j's continuum of more north = more ok).
posted by jacalata at 4:30 PM on October 22, 2008

I used to work at the world's most casual private girls' school imaginable -- in California, of course. Uniforms were logo t-shirts on top, any color; bottoms were free choice and ranged from tutus to pjs; teachers generally showed up in t-shirts and jeans. Board meetings featured pizza and most of the board wore jeans too.

Anomalously, a candidate for Head did show up in a suit once. The kids (who were conducting many of the interviews) repeatedly reassured her "It's all right, this is <name of school>. You don't have to dress up here!" She insisted that it was all right, she liked suits. The kids were incredulous, but they liked her. So did almost everyone else. We hired her.

Moral of the story: it can't hurt. (I didn't wear a suit to my interview, but I did dig up a jacket.)
posted by tangerine at 4:36 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

How much of a faux pas is it to go without a suit jacket to this one?

"Faux pas" isn't the point. Do you want the job, or don't you?
posted by Class Goat at 4:39 PM on October 22, 2008

As a man who's not dressed up even a little for his last four job interviews, and gotten offers at each of them, I'd still wear a suit for this. It's a bloody private school, after all.
posted by Netzapper at 4:51 PM on October 22, 2008

As an ex private school girl... yeah. Unless that school is so far north you're in the Torres Strait, wear a suit.

Even if you don't suit up once you've landed the job, it won't hurt to err on the side of dressing a bit more formally/professionally.

Can you maybe go to a mens hire shop? I think even a blazer would be see you through.

However! If you don the great Aussie male school teacher uniform of knee-socks, sandals and neatly pressed shorts set off with a tidy short sleeved shirt... I will hire you myself. Your colourways are blue or brown. Super bonus spiffy points if you pull off a combover. Sir!
posted by t0astie at 5:44 PM on October 22, 2008

I personally abhor this weird social expectation that men ought to wear suits with ties, but...I guess you can never really go wrong with a suit, and Rule 1 of interviews is that it is better to be overdressed.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:49 PM on October 22, 2008

I work at a private school, and went to one as a kid. You need to at the very very minimum wear a jacket. Suit is best. You might as well get one as you will wear it if you get the job.
posted by ms.v. at 6:06 PM on October 22, 2008

Remember that, in America at least, any Tuxedo rental place will also rent you a suit. It may be worthwhile to rent a suit rather then buy one just for a single interview.
posted by oddman at 7:54 PM on October 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Went to a private school, live in Australia's capital of "private schooliness' and I have to tell you that if you don't wear a suit, you're wasting your time even going. Sorry.

Can you borrow a suit from someone? If you're about 5foot 10 and super slim, and in Sydney, MrTaff would happily lend you his navy blue suit. He bought it for a job interview when he first arrived in Australia and now only wears it to weddings.

Email me if that would assist you in any way.
posted by taff at 9:23 PM on October 22, 2008

nth suit.
posted by pompomtom at 10:27 PM on October 22, 2008

Suit or you don't get the job. I favour the 2nd hand clothes shops in the bohemian parts of town for this (i.e. Newtown in sydney, not sure where in the other capital cities)
posted by singingfish at 12:04 AM on October 23, 2008

Suit up or don't even bother going to the interview. Even if you are north of the tropic of capricorn, wear a suit. Maybe, just maybe, if the school is on TI itself, you might get away with a shirt and tie.

If you can't buy one, hire one from a formal shop for the day.
posted by dg at 3:17 AM on October 23, 2008

This is one of those (often unfair) situations where if you and some other candidate are equally matched with qualifications and charm, they are consciously or subconsciously going to choose the guy who dressed up and wore the suit. I've seen it happen.
posted by meerkatty at 4:27 AM on October 23, 2008

Response by poster: Well that settles it...managed to pick up a great suit and it looks much more professional.
posted by man down under at 5:50 AM on October 23, 2008

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