When NOT To Wear A Suit To An Interview


You’ve prepared a compelling resume.

Written a strong cover letter…

…and out of 1,000 applicants, you were selected.

Now it’s time to prepare…which brings up a question.

How should you dress for the interview?

man in suit and tie

An interview is an occasion for the sharpest outfit a man can wear.

A suit is a required and appropriate  for most interviews  and business-related occasions.

But getting a job as a bulldozer driver in a construction company may not call for Hugo Boss.

Workplaces have changed a lot in the past couple of decades.

The startup and tech culture of Silicon Valley introduced a casual approach to dressing.

As a result, the suit is no longer the blanket interview uniform.

Some thought and preparation needs to be put into your dressing before meeting with a prospective employer.

What are the instances where you should consider leaving the suit in your wardrobe while attending a job interview?

Should You Wear A Suit To An Interview?

#1 If The Suit Doesn’t Fit You

If you are planning on wearing a suit to a job interview, it has to be of top quality.

Men holding the highest ranks in executive and sales positions still wear suits. But you can’t just grab any suit and interview for these positions. If you’re going to bother wearing a suit, it needs to fit you perfectly. 

Suit Jacket Style Details Men Should Know

A bad-fitting suit will leave a much worse impression than under-dressing by wearing a smart business casual outfit.

A custom-fitted suit will make you look and feel better. A sloppy fit on a suit is going to make you look like a rag doll begging for employment.

If your suit doesn’t fit you right, do yourself a favor and don’t wear it to an interview. It is better in this case to wear a fitted dress shirt, a tie and dress pants with formal shoes.

#2 The Interview Is With An Unorthodox Company

Normcore man outfit

Some start-ups have unorthodox approaches to interviewing. You might find yourself invited to a game of paintball with the team to test your ability to cooperate with others under pressure.

A Silicon valley uniform of jeans, t-shirt and messenger bag is acceptable for an entrepreneur in those circles. Show up in a suit for a meeting with likely partners and you may alienate your chances of connecting with them.

First impressions count. But they also count towards whether people want to associate with you. An entrepreneur who is surrounded by people in smart casuals should imitate the intention of their style.

The difference is how you put your clothes together. It is possible to dress smart casual and still look like the best-dressed man in the room.

Check the fit of your jeans. Wear a smart shirt, with rolled up sleeves. Pick a pair of smart boots and smart sneakers. Carry a leather satchel.

Blend in but own your style to the point where you win the respect of your peers.

#3 The CEO Would Never Wear A Suit

It can feel awkward when you show up to an interview and you are dressed much smarter than the interviewer.

Or you are applying for a job that doesn’t require a suit. It’s a construction company where even the CEO wears outdoors clothing. Again, your first priority is to connect. Make a good impression. Don’t appear too stuffy and formal when the occasion doesn’t require it.

Steve Jobs wore turtlenecks, jeans, and sneakers. Mark Zuckerberg has a standard uniform of gray t-shirt and dark jeans. Satya Nadella often gives public presentations in a t-shirt. If the company CEO wears jeans, why would you go for a suit?

Do all CEOs wear a suit?

It shows that you haven’t done your research about the corporate culture and you may come across as stuffy and risk adverse.

How do you dress well enough to make an impression? Do your research about the workplace culture before your interview.

Find out what is appropriate to wear to the interview prior to your appointment. When in doubt, wear smart casual pants and a button down shirt with a sports jacket. You can throw on the jacket to formalize your attire and leave it off to be more casual

#4 The Company Culture Is Casual

Every organization has a culture. Think of it as the personality of the company.

What is the culture of the workplace you are interested in? Are you interviewing with a company where the employees wear suits every day or do they wear t-shirts and jeans?

If you show up wearing a suit and tie and all the employees are wearing shorts and flip-flops, you will look out of place, feel uncomfortable and may give off the wrong energy. The same is true of the opposite. If you show up wearing shorts and flip-flops to a company that wears professional attire, it could give the impression that you are not a good fit for the company.

The industry you are interviewing for should also be taken into consideration, as the dress code for an accounting firm is likely to be different to that of a construction company, for example.


Ask the recruiter or company contact person if you are expected to dress in formal clothes for the interview. Check if they would recommend a suitable dress code for your appointment. Remember that being the best-dressed version of you does not involve always wearing a suit and tie combination.

If you are interviewing at a construction site, a mine, or a landfill, you would not be required to adhere to a business dress code. A suit would be out of the question unless you want to be the butt of white-collar jokes.

What about online interviews? Is it right to wear a suit on a skype call with a potential employer? The answer requires research into the company’s culture and expectations for the role you are applying for.

#5 When It’s Too Hot

Man in pink short sleeve shirt

When the weather doesn’t permit wearing a suit – switch to alternatives.

A smart and well-fitted trouser/shirt combination is a much cooler way to deal with the heat. How about  a waistcoat with a knitted tie? You could opt for a seersucker or linen blazer if you still need to look sharp.

The last thing you want is to be sweating bullets by the time you arrive at the interview location. Maintain a cool facade by dressing in light, breathable fabrics.

Wearing what you’re going to feel comfortable in and ensure that your clothes are neat and clean. It may feel strange wearing a button down shirt and shorts with loafers to an interview, but it wouldn’t be out of place if you were meeting your company contact person at a beach restaurant to discuss your future employment.

While it is hard to say that a job application would be turned down just because a man showed up in a suit, chances are, you will lose a crucial moment of connection with the interviewer if you do not reflect the culture of the workplace where you are intending to work.

In most formal job interviews, you will always have a better chance if you’re wearing a suit over wearing casual clothes. However, with the changes in corporate and workplace culture in modern society, wearing suits for interviews is no longer necessary. Consider this before dressing in your best suit for your next job interview.

Your appearance is the first thing people notice about you and it affects hiring decisions. The hiring manager needs to visualize you in the position they are trying to fill.

Remember, dress for the role you are trying to fill.


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