Do I dress nice for second interview?
March 25, 2010 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Second Interview: Dress as nice as before?

I have a second interview to work in the IT Dept. I showed up in full business attire with a tie. My interviewers were dressed in jeans, hats, and tshirts (Well one had a button down shirt). He wants me back for a second interview. It would kind of be inconvenient to dress back in business clothes as I will be leaving my current job for the second interview. If I wore 'business casual' attire would that be ok? Or should I keep up appearences and hope my professional look gets me the foot in the door.

Note: This is just an option. Currently have a job, but would like a bump in salary. Not sure if I will leave or not..
posted by NotSoSimple to Work & Money (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
As someone who went through a similar dilemma last year, I dressed slightly down for my second interview last year, and I got the job. Was still dressed one notch up from most of the people working there, but what I wore was more business casual than formal. This depends on the overall dress code of the workplace, of course, but given what your interviewers were wearing, I'd say a nice business casual outfit would be fine.
posted by wondermouse at 4:04 PM on March 25, 2010

I would say business casual would be fine if they are still going to be more casual than you. But one question: was your first interview on a Friday? If so, then you might stick with the suit, but if not, then business casual should suffice.
posted by ishotjr at 4:07 PM on March 25, 2010

Seconding the "dress like you work there, but one notch up" advice. You want to look nice enough to make an impression, but you also want to look like you'll fit in with the team.
posted by substars at 4:08 PM on March 25, 2010

I would definitely go with a shirt and tie. But if the rest of the people were dressed in jeans and a T-Shirt, I would say that you could skip out on the full suit.

It also depends: what is this an IT department for? Is it a place like a bank or a law firm, where clients frequently come to the premises? Or is it not a place where this would occur?
posted by HabeasCorpus at 4:11 PM on March 25, 2010

Best answer: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I'd wear the suit.

You can always choose to dress less formally once you have the job, and you probably should. But at this point they are still getting to know you and you want to present as polished an image as possible.
posted by dfriedman at 4:12 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It is for a Public Defenders office. Completely laxed it seemed. I will just change @ work and hope I can sneak in and out. Thanks.
posted by NotSoSimple at 4:14 PM on March 25, 2010

You've seen the place and the environment...if you go there entirely overdressed, you might be demonstrating that you didn't pick up on or 'get' the culture there. You have more information than the last time you were there. I'd match them, but picked up one notch. Show them you learned something about their culture and you are applying it, while still maintaining that you mean business and are dressing to impress.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:17 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

This interview is at my office. No, seriously. The second interview, for me, was with the directors, though it may be different for IT folks. I recommend the suit, you can't go wrong; though this is a casual office people will be impressed by your professionalism.
And I won't pass on the fact that you may not accept the job if offered...
posted by janerica at 4:19 PM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

nthing the suite. But, that said, apparently the only person you should be listening to is janerica.
posted by Spurious at 4:23 PM on March 25, 2010

It is for a Public Defenders office.

Wear a suit and tie. It doesn't matter what they're wearing.

I never wear a suit and tie to work. But if a candidate for an associate position here came in to interview without a suit and tie (or female clothing equivalent), it would go in my evaluation as a negative.
posted by The World Famous at 4:24 PM on March 25, 2010

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I'd wear the suit.

Terrible advice. If these IT guys have any say at all, they will pick the guy they gel with who has the knowledge. I work in an IT department and we wear business casual. If someone came in for the first and 2nd interview wearing the most formal clothes possible, we would laugh at them as soon as they left.
posted by lakerk at 4:25 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: janerica: If that is the case, small world... Maybe it is time to be anonymous here ;)
posted by NotSoSimple at 4:25 PM on March 25, 2010

No one will think twice if you come to an interview in a suit. Especially at an office full of lawyers. Even if it's a relaxed environment, you can't go wrong with a suit. A PDs office is not like some silicon valley start up where you need to be sufficiently laid back to fit in to the culture of the company.
posted by whoaali at 4:28 PM on March 25, 2010

I am a programmer, and I interviewed someone wearing a suit and tie yesterday. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt I just spilled coffee on. Clothes did not concern me a bit; the answers to the questions were what I was focused on.

Basically, you never know what to expect for an interview, and dressing up isn't going to hurt you. I couldn't care less what you wear to the interview, as long as you are clean.

"Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" is bullshit. What does that even mean in the context of working with computers? Computers do not care what you look like. I treat work like home; I sit there for many hours a day; thinking, typing, chatting; and I dress for that. Comfortable. (I also wear clean socks so that nobody cares if I walk around the office barefoot.) Thinking, not appearing, is what's important. So dress for that.

But I agree, a suit and tie isn't going to count against you. Jeans and t-shirt or business casual also isn't going to count against you. Wear clothes. That's all that matters.

(And oh yeah, this is no silicon valley startup. It's an investment bank with 250,000+ employees. So you might even be able to call this "the real world".)
posted by jrockway at 4:47 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing the suit. You don't know if someone else is going to be interviewing you or whether some higher up is going to pop in to put a face to the name. You're going to want to make the best possible first impression if the need comes up.

It would kind of be inconvenient to dress back in business clothes as I will be leaving my current job for the second interview.

The issue is whether or not a particular set of clothes makes a better impression. Would you ever tell an interviewer you didn't wear a suit because you didn't want to be inconvenienced? Hell no. Don't include this as a factor in making your decision.
posted by cali59 at 4:52 PM on March 25, 2010

Just remove your tie
posted by KokuRyu at 5:38 PM on March 25, 2010

jacket, button-down shirt, and tie. but pair it with (preferably black/dark) jeans and cool tennis shoes. messenger bag over briefcase. result: you look cool when coming in/saying hi/shaking hands, professional when sitting down to answer questions.
posted by sexyrobot at 5:42 PM on March 25, 2010

Go to work wearing nice pants and a button-down. Then put on a jacket and/or tie. You could probably get away with just a sport jacket, no tie. That would be a nice halfway point that wouldn't look too formal at your current office and would look comfortably professional with your interview. (In my experience, a PD's office is on the lower end of the lawyerly-formality spectrum.)

Otherwise, you risk being told by your current colleagues that a) you must be going to visit your parole officer, b) your girlfriend must have picked it out, and c) they didn't know they made Garanimals that big.
posted by Madamina at 5:47 PM on March 25, 2010

also...Ooops! Busted! Now you have to take the job if they offer it...there's another mefite there ;)

(one of of us...)
posted by sexyrobot at 5:49 PM on March 25, 2010

I'm going to n'th dressing one notch up from what you and everyone else wears on the job. If it's jeans and a t-shirt, wear khakis with a shirt and tie. I've actually been told "you know, you can take that tie off if you want" during an interview.

I've been on the other side of the table, and when people come in wearing a full suit, I don't know, just seems like they're trying too hard, and are typically nervous rather than casual and confident.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:18 PM on March 25, 2010

Response by poster: Not full suit (No jacket) here. Never owned one :) However I wear boots, jeans, and a collar (Either button down/up) everyday for my job. So if I show up in black slacks and a nice shirt it will look funny. I will just change and call it good.
posted by NotSoSimple at 7:27 PM on March 25, 2010

I interview lots and lots and lots of people.

Unless you're interviewing for a job in a gas station, wear a suit and tie. It makes a massive difference, and shows that you're interested in the job. It also shows that you have some self-awareness, which is a rare thing.
posted by ged at 7:57 PM on March 25, 2010

I had a friend interview once and his luggage got lost by the airline so he could not show up in a suit and showed up in business casual (this was for IT btw).

He started off apologizing for not being able to show up in a suite due to the travel issue and they told him if you had shown up in a suit, we probably would have *not* preferred that because you would be seen as uptight. (this is an accurate recollection of events but their wording may have differed while implying the same meaning).

I suppose if they were not excessively casual about things and did not give you an indication, continue to dress up like dfriedman said.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 8:20 PM on March 25, 2010

Going to an IT interview in a suit and tie, where the employees aren't even at business casual, would be a negative at most places (though I can't speak for law offices). You'd come off as overly formal and clueless.
posted by zippy at 4:11 AM on March 26, 2010

I'd go with my nicest (not most fancy) business casual outfit, if I hadn't just seen someone who works there recommend the suit.

It's not just that IT folks don't value the suit -- they (we) sometimes look down on people for wearing it. I have a very negative visceral reaction, for example, to opinions like:

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I'd wear the suit.

People in the job he wants don't wear suits.

But, having seen what someone who works there recommends, I'd go with that recommendation.
posted by callmejay at 6:02 AM on March 26, 2010

It may also depend on who is interviewing you. Lawyers tend to like suits.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:01 AM on March 26, 2010

If you want to wear a suit and can't leave work in a suit. Just keep your suit in the car. Leave work, stop at a fast food joint with a decent restroom/bathroom, change there and head to the interview. Change again on the way back to work at another fast food place preferably. If you feel guilty about using the place to change, buy a drink. No biggie.
posted by VickyR at 8:55 AM on March 26, 2010

I'm in software, and in San Francisco, so I never wear a suit to work, and neither does anyone else. If someone showed up to an interview in a suit, I'd (uncharitably) wonder what he was trying to hide. If I had an interview I'd dress like I would for a first date.

But I also recognise that lawyers have a different dress code, and out there in the east I hear everyone wears a suit.
posted by phliar at 1:22 PM on March 26, 2010

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