Does Wearing a Suit for a Geek Job Interview Kill Your Chances?
Test and Monitor | Posted December 31, 2011

The recruiters all say that you should err on the side of formality. Clearly the recruiters don't know the tech staff.

The company aims to hire a Linux admin. The word went around the office: The guy who's in for the interview is wearing a suit!" At least one of the programmers was heard to mumble, "No way we're hiring him!"

I never realized how big of a deal this is. There are some advantages to being a geek chick, I suppose. While we can (or at least I do) obsess about what to wear at a job interview, women have a lot more freedom in clothing categories. I've a few outfits that are undeniably professional without looking uncomfortably formal. (Also, I think more women are apt to ask about the company dress code.)

There are some companies — say, banks and financial organizations — where wearing a suit for the interview process seems appropriate even if everybody is aware you'll never wear a suit again. Even if the HR person tells you that the department is "business casual," you're often warned that it's a good idea to dress one step up from the people you interview with.

But still — a suit?

Maybe that does impress the people at the top of the food chain, even in a midsized business (one that's too small for a dedicated HR person but large enough for discernible departments). But if you're a techie and you interview someone wearing a suit... Does it make you think less of the person? (Surely, if he'd willingly wear a suit, he isn't a real techie.) Better? (He's serious about this job. He wants it.) Is it a no-op? (Who cares what he wears? It's just part of the job-hunting politics, especially if a recruiter sent him. Let me just ask about his Apache knowledge!)

Where do you stand? (And what are you wearing while you're standing there?)


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