Yes! You cracked that coding interview round and you rocked the phone screening and now you received an onsite interview call. Nothing more thrilling than receiving that onsite interview invite. One of the the most important thing (and also one of the most neglected thing) for the onsite interview is the dress code. Once you get the interview invite, most of us (nerdy engineers) dig ourselves in to books and preparation that we do not think about what to wear until the last second. Specially the new grad students tend to grab the only piece of “formal” clothing and rush to the interview. Where as what you wear actually reflects your personality. I totally agree what and how much you know is what ultimately matters while receiving a job offer. But what you wear plays a vital role as well. If you are dressed smart your confidences boosts to the next level and that affects positively towards your interview. I am also coming from the same place and have gone through the same dilemma of – ‘whether is it ok to wear a jeans to the interview or no?’ ‘Does it really matter what I wear?’ ‘I am good as long as I answer everything, right?’. And have ended up dressing up too much or dressing too odd. Which ultimately resulted into wearing a n awkward expression on the face instead of the confidence. So, here are things that I have learnt by listening to advice from seniors, coming from my own experience and little bit of research.
1. Research the company
I can not stress enough on this guys. Just go to the company’s website, social pages, glass door and stalk away. See, observe and understand company’s culture and what people are wearing. And then decide your attire accordingly. The interviewers look for candidates who fit to their culture. So, take time to learn everything possible about the company.
2. Dress for the role
Its very important to dress according to the profile you are interviewing for. Is it technical, developer, sales, marketing, customer facing, HR, teaching, or anything else. Different roles demand different attitudes from people. Make sure your attire depicts what your role is. Most of tech companies follow very laid back casual dress code.
If you are not sure, don’t be afraid to ask! It is ok to ask about dress code to the HR you are in contact with. If you know someone from the same company, ask them about company’s culture and what is expected outfit from an interview candidate.
4. Wear one step higher
As I said, most of the tech companies follow casual dress code. Mostly they are not concerned much about what the candidate is wearing. And HR instructs explicitly that they follow casual outfits. Still, I would suggest not to show up in jeans, t-shirt and converse. It is always suggested to wear one step higher than the post you are getting interviewed for. This shows that you are really serious about the role.
5. Do not experiment on the day
Thinking of saving the new pair of shoes for the interview day? Don’t! New shoes tend to bite. Even though they don’t bite, the new shoes are always uncomfortable on the first day. So, get used to them, wear them few times before. If you wear glasses, then don’t switch to lenses on the interview day- or vise versa. Same goes with everything else. Do what you do everyday – from your grooming to makeup to outfit. Avoid “trying” something for the first time on your interview day.
Always always see your comfort. If you can’t carry high heels then don’t wear them, if you can’t function in blazer -then dump those. The last thing you want during an interview is your outfit taking your attention.
7. Your bag is part of your outfit
I know your everyday backpack is so functional that you don’t even think of switching to anything else. But I think a good handbag adds to the overall professional look. Of course it is not mandatory but try a sleek leather bag (with only the minimal needed things) over a bulky school backpack. It will not get unnoticed.
- Jeans and T-shirts (even though the company follows casual wear)
- Casual footwear (No converse or flip-flops)
- (For tech interviews) Blazer and tie
- High heels/ studs
- Long nails
- Non-trimmed beard
- Hair falling on your face
- Loud bright colors
- More than three jewelry pieces
- Heavy makeup
- Strong perfumes, colognes
- Loose fitting & sloppy outfits
- Strong traditional outfits (Simple plain kurta/kurtis, or very simple well put sarees are okay)
Wear a smile and confidence.
I remember my first college career expo. I was overdressed in a business skirt, blouse and a blazer. And not to mention how uncomfortable I was to walk in those brand new biting shoes that I had bought from India just for interview events. Within 30 mins I was sweating under the blazer, desperate to go home. And it showed on my face! No one would like such candidate right?
Soon enough I learnt that for technical roles on west coast strict business attire is not at all expected. Can you believed if I say I am interviewed by a software engineer wearing shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops. And that was the most intense tough interview I had appeared for and the same company HR was in pink hair! I regret not being able to crack it though.
While I was getting used to this culture, then came one of my interviews on the east coast. In the morning I arrived in my business casuals and was totally shocked to see every other candidates in blazers and ties. I was so awkward the whole time. I managed to get the job offer and no one said anything. But what I am trying to say is – my first point above – “Research the company”. You can really save the added mental stress.
My cousin used to work in New Jersey and I was visiting her. She called me from office and asked me if I can join her for lunch in a restaurant near her office. I was again taken by surprise that I was the only one in jeans and t-shirt around (even though she and her friends were developers), not only in that restaurant but on streets as well. In general everyone I encountered during my journey to that restaurant and back, was in strict professional attire. I must admit, I was intimidated by the overall business environment. So, not only your role matters but also company’s function, company’s culture and company’s location matter while deciding your outfit.
Shop your best interview outfit
I strongly suggest for everyone, girls as well as boys – do own couple of best branded outfits. Your outfit is an extension of your personality. So why not invest in good key pieces which speak your personality the best. Quality fashion pieces not only boost your confidence but also shows that you have mature interests. Here are few outfit ideas.
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All the best for your next interview folks. I am sure you will crack it.
-Enjoy life to the fullest