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9/2/2014
08:06 AM
David Wagner
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IT Job Interviews 101: What Not To Wear

Want respect? Make a good first impression by matching your IT interview attire with the corporate culture.
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So you've got a job interview. Congratulations. Here comes the hard part. You've got to figure out what to wear to the interview. In IT it's harder than anywhere else. Show up in a suit to a company that's all tees and jeans and they might decide you are stuffy. Show up in jeans and another company might decide you aren't taking it seriously.

The stakes are high. First impressions are created in seven seconds, and they rely mostly on nonverbal cues like body language, and yes, clothes. People can make snap judgments about people based on clothes in as little as three seconds. Wear the wrong clothes, and you could be judged as less competent or intelligent before you even open your mouth.

Make a bad impression with what you're wearing and you could spend the rest of the interview simply trying to make up for it instead of sharing all the incredible talents that make you the one for the job.

Look, you know the basics. Don't wear roller skates or forget to wear pants. Your mama stopped dressing you when you went to college (or at least your senior year) and you've been around the block. But there are still some details that even the best of us might not be getting right.

Plus, the interview is probably one of the few places where you aren't tipped off to your own errors. Go to the club in the wrong pair of skinny jeans and your friends are going to let you have it, but wear the wrong suit to an interview and all you'll hear is "thanks for coming, but we're going in another direction." No manager can tell you that the real reason they didn't hire you was that your fish tie turned them off. They may not even know it themselves since many of these impressions are subconscious.

So we put together a slide show of some of the biggest fashion faux pas in the business, some subtle, some not so subtle, that will help you land the job. Or at least, it will help you get through the first seven seconds. What you do after that will be up to you.

Check out the list. Then tell us your go-to interview garb. And let us know if you've committed any crimes against fashion. Most importantly, managers, please sound off on all your interview horror stories, and tell us if someone lost a job because of what he or she was wearing.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
9/26/2014 | 6:13:13 PM
That's what wrong, so what's right?
Woah, those really are the basics of interview dressing don'ts. In all reality it seems that the standard for innerview attire has changed. It used to be no matter what field, you wore a suit to an interview, but now the lines are all blurry, especially in fast moving younger IT companies. There are many types of companies and many not so public preferred dress codes for interviews. For all those people with compaines hiring, what do you look for (or really hate to see) as far as dress code?
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
9/3/2014 | 10:31:16 PM
Re: Tie or Not to Tie ?
Thanks David !   Hopefully it won't be too many, but it is kinda fun for now.  And I see what you are saying about the red tie and the suit - good point. Maybe the goal is to be different but not too different.

I'll remember that when I update my tie collection - too late for the suit though - I went Blue on that and bought it a couple of years ago for a friends wedding - but at least it is Hugo Boss !

Not that I am a fashion snob mind you - I just like the name Hugo. : )
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/3/2014 | 10:09:11 PM
Re: Tie or Not to Tie ?
@technocrati- Good luck with the additional rounds. Glad to hear you never considered the centaur costume. I suspect with tie color you can't go too wrong as long as it doesn't look foolish. Red might signal power but if everyone comes in wearing a red tie it cancels out. So maybe the green tie suddenly looks great. Personally, I have always refused to wear blue or black suits to an interview. That's my concession to individuality. I have a nice dark green suit (I swear it doesn't look like a Master's jacket) that I think makes a nice statement. Who knows, but I got the last job I interviewed for in it so it can't be too bad.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
9/3/2014 | 7:27:14 PM
Tie or Not to Tie ?
I really enjoyed this piece David and your article certainly came in handy as I had recently interviewed for a position. Being an engineer during the day and superhero at night : )  My issue is wearing ties. I really don't like ties all that much or maybe it is because my shirt is usually too tight around the neck that the addition of a tie just makes me nausiated.   In addition, I live on the West Coast so putting on a tie without adequate compensation is just plain stupid.

I wrestled with whether I would wear one or not. Taking your advice and from experience - I was gauging the chances of me actually needing one.  And what would it say about me if I did and were not wearing one ?

And then there was the question of color ?  Well I understand red represents power but what about blue ? Does that represent middle - management ?  Definitely not interested in that.

Don't make them too colorful was your next point, but I once had a girlfriend who had good taste - and that was the last time I bought a tie. Pluse it had red in it - I figured I would be sending mix messages with this but it was better than my other option of a circa. 1972 paisely red tie that I bought years ago from a thrift shop while I was in college.

Well considering I will probably have to do more than one of these ( interviews ) I am going to go shopping looking for ties ( red ones of course).

Thanks David.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 11:10:18 AM
Re: what to wear
@David a zoot suit, now that would be great for someone applying for a job in the music industry!
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 11:10:18 AM
Re: what to wear
@David a zoot suit, now that would be great for someone applying for a job in the music industry!
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/2/2014 | 11:08:49 AM
Re: what to wear
@Ariella- I'm sure it does. The sad thing might be that we are still making snap judgments about people based on what they wear when we know that 90% of people just put on what they know they are supposed to even though it doesn't reflect their personality. Maybe we should hire the 10% who say, "this is who I am, short skirt (or pant suit or zoot suit) and all."
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 9:06:33 AM
what to wear
I worked in a recruiting office for a while. The head of the franchise was a bit of a control freak when it came to directing people what to wear, getting detailed about color and style. It gets a bit controversial, I would think, when telling women how long their skirts should be and if they should be wearing a suit with pants or skirts.
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